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Introducing Telemetrics: The Weighted Tweet Index (AoIR 2014)

Association of Internet Researchers conference (AoIR 2014)

Introducing Telemetrics: The Weighted Tweet Index

Darryl Woodford, Katie Prowd, Axel Bruns, Ben Goldsmith, Stephen Harrington, and Jean Burgess

This paper introduces a new methodology for analyzing and measuring engagement with television content by users of Twitter. Drawing on factors such as the network, viewing audience, and date of broadcast to establish a baseline expectation for volume of tweets around a television show, and applying techniques from the field of sabermetrics to create neutral volume figures (‘weighted tweets’) which exclude these variables, our metrics provide new insights into television’s social media presence. The methodology provides a variety of new measures for analysing the social media strategies of individual television programs, channels and networks, for comparing users’ engagement with programs, channels or networks, and for predicting future volumes of tweets.

Mapping Social TV Audiences: The Footprints of Leading Shows in the Australian Twittersphere (AoIR 2014)

Association of Internet Researchers conference (AoIR 2014)

Mapping Social TV Audiences: The Footprints of Leading Shows in the Australian Twittersphere

Axel Bruns, Darryl Woodford, Tim Highfield, and Katie Prowd

Drawing on the results of a long-term research project into the network structure of the Australian Twittersphere, combined with an investigation of audience participation through social media in selected reality TV and political debate shows, this paper maps the location of the Twitter communities participating in the social TV components of the selected shows onto the underlying follower/followee network structure of the Australian national Twittersphere. In doing so, it addresses questions about the homology or distinctions between the social TV audiences for the different shows; the correlation between existing follower/followee relationships and participation in specific social TV activities; and the effects of Twitter activity related to specific shows in making these shows visible to the entire national Twitter network. The development of such network-based approaches to the quantification and visualisation of social TV engagement makes another important to the development of reliable and generally applicable metrics for social television.

Black Twitter's Engagement with #Scandal

The final presentation for AoIR 2015 is by Dayna Chatman and Kevin Driscoll, whose focus is on the communities and modes of social TV engagement with specific television texts. Their focus here is especially also on "black Twitter", a particular subset of the US Twitter population that has emerged in recent years: black American users on Twitter have been identified as a distinct group.

But black Twitter is actually a discursive phenomenon that is driven predominantly but not exclusively by black users in the US. The existence of this black Twitter community was detected especially through Twitter's trending topics, whose underlying algorithms were by accident especially well suited to detect the themes emerging from black Twitter, while "white Twitter" topics were not as prominently features.

Television Co-Creation with Social Media Users: #7DaysLater

The next speaker in our AoIR 2015 panel is Jonathon Hutchinson, who zooms in to a specific transmedia programme screened by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, #7DaysLater. The premise of the show is to create comedy programming within seven days, and to incorporate social media engagement practices into the show.

Such viewing is more than just subsequent watercooler discussions – it's about viewer co-creation practices. The challenge is to break through the noise barrier on social media, and to find the techniques for encouraging audience participation, especially in the context of a public service broadcaster.

Developing More Advanced Television Engagement Metrics for Twitter

The final AoIR 2015 session is our panel on social television, and starts with a co-authored paper presented by Darryl Woodford (slides to follow soon below).

Darryl begins by noting that raw social media engagement numbers for television are useful only to an extent: they are usually not normalised to account for specific factors, and simply offer raw quantities.

Nielsen SocialGuide's Twitter engagement statistics for social media follow that pattern, for example, and obviously shows on major TV channels do better than those on niche cable channels. Beamly's social media rankings are skewed by the Twitter terms they track: any tweet containing the letters 'yr' is counted as engagement with The Young and the Restless, for example, which is obviously wrong.

Social Media Engagement with Italian TV

The next AoIR 2015 speaker is Fabio Giglietto, whose interest is in social television practices in Italy, around political talkshow Servizio Pubblico and reality TV contest X-Factor. What moments of these broadcasts trigger audience engagement? What similarities or differences are there in communication styles?

Fabio's project gathered relevant tweets from the shows' hashtags, and generated a number of key volumetric statistics on user activity; X-Factor audiences were considerably more active. They then algorithmically identified the major peaks in each of the shows' episodes, and explored the key dynamics for each peak.

Coming Up Shortly

The annual end-of-year conference season is upon us again, and I’ll be heading off tomorrow to the annual Association of Internet Researchers conference – the most important conference in my field. In spite of the considerable troubles AoIR has faced this year – its first conference location, Bangkok, was no longer feasible following the military coup in Thailand, and there still seem to be some teething problems with the replacement location in Daegu, Korea – it will be great to catch up with leading colleagues in the field again.

This year, we’re presenting the first outcomes of our latest big data studies of the Australian and global Twitterspheres. One major paper will present what we’ve been able to glean so far of the overall patterns within the global Twitter userbase – we now have data on some 870 million Twitter profiles, which provides us with a unique perspective on how Twitter has grown and diversified as a platform. Further, we’ve also got a brand-new map of follower/followee  networks in the Australian Twittersphere, based on our dataset of some 2.8 million Australian users, and we’re using this to explore the footprint of recent television programming to shed new light on second-screen viewing practices, as part of our Telemetrics project (more on this at Darryl Woodford’s site). I’ll be live-blogging the conference again if I can get online, so expect to see much more over the next few days. As a preview, my slides for the two presentations are below.

Social Media and Public Service Media

The final keynote at ASMC14 is by the fabulous Hallvard Moe, whose focus is on the intersections between social media and public service broadcasting. How can media researchers contribute to rethinking public service broadcasting? Defining PSB is difficult, but there is often a belief that policy makers know it when they see it; PSB is an inherently contested concept, coined a very long time ago in a very different context – even in Europe alone, how PSBs are positioned and organised is very different across different countries.

What such institutions have in common, though, is the general aim that PSBs should provide vital information and contribute to the public good; they are a policy tool to provide journalism and bring citizens together as a public. PSB institutions around the world do not necessarily always achieve such an ideal – they now exist in almost constant turmoil, due to a range of contextual factors. They can only survive by externalising their internal challenges; these challenges are always present, and in recent years especially associated with the rise of digital media and the media practices such media enable and promote.

Social Media Use by BBC World Service and Russia Today during the Sochi Games

The final speaker in this ASMC14 session is Marie Gillespie, whose interest is in the tweeting of global events – she focusses here especially on the controversial Sochi Olympics in early 2014, which were also affected by the unfolding political crisis in Ukraine.

One player in the media environment around the Olympics is the Russian state broadcaster Russia Today, whose mission is to present a Russian perspective on world news. It receives $300m per annum, at the same time that comparable public diplomacy broadcasters like BBC World Service or the Australia Network are being downsized or discontinued.

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