TikTok has become the social network generating the most engagement for streaming brands in 2021.
Streaming services may hold viewership numbers as a closely guarded secret, but when it comes to understanding performance on social media, ListenFirst has an objective view of which streaming brands are succeeding and why. From our internal study of Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Peacock, Amazon Prime Video, Showtime and Starz, here are the 6 insights you need to know about streaming brands and social media.
#1. Fan Growth in 2021 has slowed for streaming brands
|Streaming Brand||New Fans|
Jan – Aug 2018
|New Fans |
Jan – Aug 2019
Jan – Aug 2020
Jan – Aug 2021
|Amazon Prime Video||621,123||6,349,317||2,703,691||1,855,889|
Looking at the streaming brands between January – August 2021, the number of new fans they generated on social media decreased by -17% compared to January – August 2020, and decreased by -24% compared to January – August 2019.
What’s happening is while streaming brands are still growing their audience on social media, the rate of growth, which peaked in 2019, has slowed as the streaming video space becomes more crowded. For example, while Netflix got nearly 13 million new fans on social media between January – August 2021, with newer services like Peacock and HBO Max now in the space, that’s still 4.7 million less new fans than Netflix got in the same time period in 2019.
Additionally, emerging social platforms such as TikTok and Depop are likely eating away at the traditional social channels, especially among younger users, likely contributing to the significant decrease in growth this year. Streaming brands have to experiment with establishing a presence on these newer platforms, to keep pace with shifting audience preferences.
#2. TikTok Has Become The Most Important Platform For Content Responses
Streaming brands got 59% of their content responses on TikTok between January – August 2021, with 33% of their responses coming from content they posted on Instagram. Meanwhile during those 8 months, 3% of responses for streaming brands came from Facebook, 3% from YouTube, and 2% from Twitter. For streaming services looking to lift their social engagement, treating TikTok as a focal point is an absolute must.
Is the popularity of TikTok leading to streamers getting less engagement on other social media platforms? Possibly, but not in the way you’d necessarily expect. Comparing January – August in 2021 to 2020, the number of responses for streaming brands increased by 27% on YouTube. However, during the same time streaming brands got -7% responses on Twitter, -5% responses on Facebook, and -2% responses on Instagram.
Even as audience preferences around social networks evolve over time, video-first platforms like YouTube will continue to be strategically important for streaming brands.
#3. The Audience Was Most Interested In Binging During The Beginning Of The Pandemic
When people were stuck at home quarantining with nothing else to do, it appeared that binging TV shows was never more popular. But was that level of interest sustainable?
Based on Twitter audience data, the answer is no. During Q1 2020 there were 1,190,036 Binge related Tweets which was a 24% increase compared to the previous quarter. In Q2 2020 that number even rose to 1,356,841 Binge related Tweets. However in the 4 subsequent quarters, there were on average -20% less Binge related Tweets compared to that Q2 2020 peak.
The long term trend remains that the social audience is talking more and more about streaming TV shows in binge mode. However, now that the majority of adults are vaccinated and have more options with what to do with their time, in the short term, the audience interest in binging has actually decreased.
#4. Shifting to releasing episodic programs weekly can help on social
Netflix has long been synonymous with the binge release model, which they first popularized in 2013 when they released the entire first season of House of Cards at once. However, even Netflix is now experimenting with different release models, for instance releasing reality shows like The Circle and Too Hot to Handle in batches.
The reason for the return to weekly episodes for streamers is largely to extend the social media conversation around their shows. For example, The Boys switched from a binge release in Season 1 to episodic weekly releases in Season 2, which helped the longevity of its social engagement and interest. Season 2 didn’t see peaks in engagement until the finale, while interest popped at both premiere and finale.
Meanwhile, The Mandalorian changed it’s release schedule to alternating between Wednesdays and Fridays to every Friday, leading to a higher conversation volume in Season 2 per episode despite overall interest remaining lower than Season 1.
How do you know when a streaming show is better off coming out at once or weekly? Content that lends itself to being dissected, such as reality competitions, or regularly recapped on entertainment websites, should be released on a weekly cadence. After all, audiences would have more to reflect on in social media.
#5. Frequently posting about large IP’s consistently drives engagement
For streaming brands, leaning into intellectual property that’s already familiar and has a pre-existing fanbase is a proven strategy for lifting social media engagement. For example, 4 out of the 5 most shared HBO Max posts so far in 2021 were about either the Friends reunion or Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video’s two most shared posts between January – August 2021 were Facebook and TikTok videos promoting Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, based on the novel set in Clancy’s Ryanverse.
#6. Foreign Language Content Now Among Most Popular Content For Streamers
Streaming brands now produce original programming for local regions across the world and a lot of those shows are clearly connecting with the English language audience on social media as well. For instance, Netflix’s top post in April 2020 with 1,917,159 responses was an Instagram post featuring Úrsula Corberó using a filter that matches her with a character on Money Heist. Additional foreign content shows such as Dark and Elite are also among the most buzzed programs for Netflix on social media.
For streaming brands with popular foreign language originals, give the English speaking audience the benefit of the doubt that they’ll also embrace those shows on social media.
Looking for more insights about streaming brands on social media? Request a ListenFirst Demo today!