Twitter NielsenWe’ve come a long ways since the days of watching Ozzie and Harriet and Dick Van Dyke. Rather than just receiving a broadcast show on black and white TV’s with rabbit ear antennae, we’re spontaneously exchanging thoughts about what we’re watching with people across town and across the country.

Nielsen, TV’s longstanding provider of metrics, wants in on that interaction. Or at least to measure that interaction and how it may be valuable to advertisers.

This week, Twitter, the conduit by which converse while watching TV, and Nielsen partnered to create the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating” for the US market. They are aiming to turn this into the standard metric for measuring the ‘chatter’ that a TV show stimulates on Twitter.

Nielsen’s president of global media products, Steve Hasker talking with Michael O’Connell (@mikeylikestv), Staff Editor at The Hollywood Reporter regarding the Twitter-Nielsen partnership,

The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is a significant step forward for the industry, particularly as programmers develop increasingly captivating live TV and new second-screen experiences, and advertisers create integrated ad campaigns that combine paid and earned media. As a media measurement leader we recognize that Twitter is the preeminent source of real-time television engagement data. (emphasis added)

The new ratings, expected in the fall of 2013 Nielsen, will measure the number of people talking about a show on Twitter, as well as those who are exposed to the talk, in order to present the accurate size of the audience and effect of social media.

Nielsen’s traditional methods of tracking viewership is becoming obsolete. With Online streaming and OnDemand viewing, we now watch ‘TV’ when ever we like. ‘Listening’ to Twitter, Nielsen will be able to see exchanges regarding shows no matter when the shows are watched.

Chloe Sladden (@ChloeS), Twitter VP of media, told O’ConnellL

Our users love the shared experience of watching television while engaging with other viewers and show talent. Twitter has become the world’s digital water cooler, where conversations about TV happen in real time. Nielsen is who the networks rely on to give better content to viewers and clearer results to marketers. This effort reflects Nielsen’s foresight into the evolving nature of the TV viewing experience, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with Twitter ecosystem partners on this metric to help broadcasters and advertisers create truly social TV experiences. (emphasis added)

Fox Networks Group Chairman and CEO, Peter Rice (@peterjohnrice) reinforced the impact Twitter is having.

Twitter is a powerful messenger and a lot of fun for fans of our shows, providing them with the opportunity to engage, connect and voice their opinions directly to each other and us. Combining the instant feedback of Twitter with Nielsen ratings will benefit us, program producers, and our advertising partners.

What’s this all have to do with lawyers and law firms?

The growing impact of Twitter to listen to and engage in real time conversations with your target audience cannot be ignored.

Follow the money for clues as to the future. Television is a huge business. The industry is seeing the impact of social media. Rather than watch their relationship with viewers erode with all the viewing options available today, the industry is acting.

You need not measure the metrics of Twitter discussion as Nielsen is going to do, but you ought to be recognizing, like Nielsen, the opportunity Twitter provides you.

Like never before, you have the ability to monitor what particular people and companies are saying via Twitter. You can monitor what is being said on particular subjects by people you don’t even know by following hashtags and searches.

The television and industry is no longer going to measure success in an increasingly irrelevant fashion — by eyeballs. They’re going to measure success by the level of engagement.

As a lawyer or law firm is engagement is the premier measure of success. After all it’s engagement that leads to relationships and a strong word of mouth reputation.

For you as a lawyer or law firm to measure success by viewers of your website or eyeballs of your email alerts is hanging on to the past.

Admittedly websites and email newsletters, as your principal means of using the Internet, aren’t as old as Ozzie and Harriet, but in Internet time they’re get there.