Consumer Participation or Consumer Manipulation? The Art of Social Metrics


“The role of consumers in shaping the meaning and value of cultural products” has become significant. (Bilton at 33) Many argue subcultural consumer creativity is being turned into a “repackaged marketable product.” (Bilton at 32) This is evident in the amount of input that is asked/taken from consumers during creative production.  

An analytics firm — Fizziology — is using social media to monitor and shape pilot programs for several studios. The firm monitors both the pre and post-premier social buzz via social media in a process called social metrics. This allows networks the ability to measure things such a viewer passion, in the face of lowered ratings data. For example, last week, although NBC’s Go On drew more viewers than The New Normal, the latter enjoyed nearly 260 percent more social buzz (tweets, Facebook posts and comments) than the former. Although social metrics is an uncertain science for networks, the co-founder and COO of Fizziology notes that “[t]his isn’t a focus group of 12; it is the collected opinions of tens of thousands.”

The role consumer’s take on in shaping television pilots helps to shed light on the power consumers hold in shaping the value of cultural products. Focus groups and forecasting trends is nothing new for media; however, the manner and magnitude in which these are conducted has vastly changed.

Nikki Tuttle


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