Is social media a secret to Netflix’s success?

Social media marketing, which is to say using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to advertise a service or product, is a concept that every business that wants to grow is trying to understand. As Forbes recently noted, social media can be a great tool for getting one’s brand out there, but a lot of people do not see how it’s done.

CNBC reports that Netflix seems to have mastered social media marketing and that it is a secret to its immense success. In so doing the live streaming service has outperformed traditional cable networks such as HBO and Showtime and its live streaming rivals such as Hulu and Amazon. New Netflix original programming generated 30 percent more Twitter mentions as compared to program premieres on network and cable TV.

Twitter mentions can also help Netflix gauge the success or failure of its programming. The amount of mentions tends to surge when new shows go live on the live streaming network and go viral when they turn out to be successful. On the other hand, Netflix has noted a drop off of tweets for second seasons of shows that are not doing very well and are eventually canceled. This tool can be handy since the Network relies on subscriptions to make money rather than selling commercial time based on viewership.

Some evidence exists that viral Twitter messages that happen when popular new shows go live drive an uptick in new subscribers. Netflix, unlike its rivals, drops every episode of a season for a particular show at once. This practice leads to binge watching which in turn leads to mentions on Twitter and other social media. If the show is popular, the tweets tend to inspire more people to sign up for a Netflix subscription, improving the network’s bottom line.

Other networks, on the other hand, spread the episodes of their programs out week by week. That practice spreads Twitter mentions out over the course of the season, surging only when a new episode airs. The phenomenon means that traditional networks are less likely to have Twitter content about their programming go viral.

Twitter is also an excellent marketing tool as it gives programming executives a real-time tool to track the reaction to their content. They can use the data to inform show runners about what is working and what is not, helping to improve the shows going forward.