FORTUNE -- Social-media enthusiasts, especially those on Twitter, tend to think their hobby is more popular than it really is. If you're on Twitter a lot, and the people you know best are on Twitter a lot, it's easy to delude yourself into thinking that the whole world is there with you. But it's not. Most people work or go to school all day, and when they get home, many of them just want to flop down on the couch in front of the TV (or maybe read a book, or do some knitting, or chat face-to-face or on the phone with friends and family). The last thing on their minds is logging into Twitter to yammer.
And that includes yammering about their favorite TV shows. The Wall Street Journal has compared the "Twitter ratings" compiled by Nielsen through its new SocialGuide service to TV ratings, and noted a big disconnect between some of TV's most popular shows and so-called second-screen viewing -- which in this case means people tweeting about the shows they're watching. The most-tweeted shows, it turns out, generally aren't among the most popular.
Networks, advertisers, and social-media services including Twitter and Facebook (FB) are trying to capitalize on the "second screen" phenomenon," but it appears that, even if they are successful, the rewards will be marginal at best.
The data, the Journal concludes, serve as "a reminder that the social-media service's user base has a very different makeup than the mass-market TV-viewing audience that marketers spend tens of billions of dollars each year to reach."
Twitter, after all, has only about 49 million users in the U.S., and only a fraction of them tweet regularly about TV.
Which is not to say it's pointless to try to understand and reach those users. But it's difficult to understand one marketer's conclusions about the value of second-screening: If people are tweeting about TV shows, that "means the ads are also being paid attention to," Steve Kalb, director of video investment at the ad firm Mullen, told the Journal. But doesn't it more likely mean that Twitter is being paid attention to?
Twitter, which is getting ready to go public, thinks it can be both -- if the ads are on Twitter itself. It has explicitly stated that it's seeking TV-related ads, including through its Amplify program, which presents video clips with ads for shows embedded in the tweet stream.
Twitter certainly has the power of buzz behind it: If your friends are tweeting about a show, you're more likely to check it out for yourself. After that, though, the show has to stand on its own.
As noted in a report last week, from eMarketer, sports and other live-viewing events like The Voice and American Idol, naturally lend themselves to second-screen viewing. That's where most of the opportunities probably lie. Furthermore, Twitter skews young and urban, so the perfect target for these efforts might be a 22-year-old baseball fan who watches a lot of reality TV.
Trying to reach the couch-floppers who prefer mass-market sitcoms and dramas, though, might be largely a wasted effort.
Sharing metrics have their share of flaws but offer unprecedented insights.
By Gregory Galant @gregory, contributor
FORTUNE -- In my last column I pointed out that social shares (the number of times an article is shared on social media services like Facebook and Twitter) is the universal and publicly accessible metric for judging an article, simply because it's the only universal and publicly accessible metric for judging an article.
Not exactly a controversial stance, but MOREJul 10, 2013 10:23 AM ET
A company called Placed is applying some of the methods used online to the real world.
FORTUNE -- Foot traffic at bookstores rose by 27% in the first quarter of this year, according to a report issued this week by Placed, a Seattle-based company that aims to bring Internet-like marketing analytics to the offline world.
That seems like a surprising number. It's hard to know for sure how accurate it is, or MOREDan Mitchell, contributor - May 24, 2013 12:07 PM ET
IBM's supercomputer is getting a job in customer service.
FORTUNE -- It's still a sluggish job market out there, but apparently not for supercomputers. IBM's question-answering machine Watson, best known for beating lowly humans on Jeopardy!, just got a new job. According to the tech giant, Watson will now be employed in customer service centers, used as a tool for both representatives and consumers to get fast, data-driven responses.
It's been two MOREMichal Lev-Ram, writer - May 21, 2013 7:02 AM ET
This year 48% want an iPad, up from 31% in 2010 and 44% in 2011
FORTUNE -- Nielsen released the results of its annual "iHoliday" survey of U.S. children's Christmas wish lists Tuesday, and once again Apple (AAPL) dominated four of the five top spots (see Nielsen graphic below).
What interested us was that despite increased competition in both the tablet and smartphone markets, the kids' attraction to the Apple brand has MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 21, 2012 9:14 AM ET
Among ethnic groups, Asian Americans are the most likely to pack a smartphone
FORTUNE -- The move from so-called feature phones to smartphones continues apace.
As of March 2012, 50.4% of U.S. mobile subscribers owned smartphones, up from 47.8% in December 2011, according to a Nielsen survey released Monday. Google's (GOOG) Android was the most popular smartphone operating system (48.5%), while Apple (AAPL) was the No. 1 manufacturer (32%).
No surprises there.
It's when the data are broken MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 7, 2012 11:00 AM ET
Between December and February, Android captured 48% and iOS 43% of the U.S. market
The thrust of the Nielsen report issued Thursday morning is that nearly half (49.7%) of U.S mobile phone owners now carry smartphones.
But what interests me, as usual, is how that market is being divvied up among Google (GOOG) Android phones, Apple's (AAPL) iPhones, Research in Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerries and the diminishing Others.
The chart at right tells the story. MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 29, 2012 10:00 AM ET
Americans 18-34 make up 23% of the population, but consume way more than their share
It's not clear whether the C stands for "consumer," "connected," "content" or all three, but that's the letter Nielsen and NM Incite's State of the Media have chosen to represent the generation born between the launch of the VCR and the commercialization of the Internet. They coin the term Generation C in a release issued Thursday:
According to the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 23, 2012 10:00 AM ET
But 55- to 64-year olds who make more than $100,000 a year are big buyers too
"Whether or not you have a smartphone is closely related to both how old you are and how much money you make," finds a Nielsen survey of 20,000 Americans with mobile phones conducted in January. I quote:
While overall smartphone penetration stood at 48 percent in January, those in the 24-34 age group showed the greatest MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 20, 2012 9:00 AM ET
Between October and Christmas, Apple's U.S. sales nearly caught up to Android's
Three findings stand out in Nielsen's December survey of the U.S. mobile phone market, released Wednesday:
Among recent smartphone buyers, 44.5% of those surveyed in December bought an Apple (AAPL) iPhone, up from 25.1% in October
57% of new iPhone buyers said they chose the iPhone 4S over the less expensive iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS
Android's lead among recent buyers nearly MORE
|America's economic mobility myth|
|Snowden docs had NYTimes exec fearing for his life|
|2 million Facebook, Gmail and Twitter passwords stolen in massive hack|
|Tech firms call on U.S. to reform spying activities|
|The shared genius of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs|