Social media ranked third as a source of show discovery, behind promos and word of mouth, according to an online survey by Viacom. The results of the survey show the relationship between TV and social media usage. The findings uncovered 3 key types of motivations leading fans to engage in TV-related social media activities: Functional, Communal, and Playful.

Respondents engage in an average of 10 TV-related activities on social media platforms on a weekly basis, including: interacting with friends and fans, following/liking a TV show, searching for info and show schedules, and gaming or signing up for freebies. Out of 24 social media activities tracked, 3 distinct types of motivations for TV-related social media use emerged: functional, such as searching for show schedules, news, and exclusives; communal, as in personal branding, and connecting with others; and playful, such as gaming or entering contests.

Kelton surveyed 1,134 U.S. respondents 13 years old and up, on behalf of Viacom. The survey was fielded in November 2012. The survey results were not weighted. Based on a Researchscape assessment of the questionnaire and methodology, this survey is only slightly likely to be representative of U.S. consumers in general: the results should be considered qualitative or directional in nature.

Functional motivating factors are the strongest factors for use when it comes to TV-related social media use: 46% of respondents use it to stay up to date with a TV show/channel, 43% of respondents use social media to look for show schedules, and 33% of respondents use it to access exclusive video content. Respondents 13-17 are most likely to use social media to search for show schedules and exclusive videos, while those between the ages of 18 and 24 are most likely to search for the latest show news and to access spoilers.

Communal factors are the second most common reason for engaging in TV-related social media use:
  • 36% of respondents use social media to recommend TV shows to others
  • 35% of respondents use social media to interact with friends about TV shows/channels
  • 24% of respondents use it to connect with like-minded fans.
The third factor for using social media in a TV related way is by playful activities:
  • 24% of respondents use social media to enter contests about TV shows
  • 23% of respondents use it to play games related to the TV show
  • 22% of respondents use it to take quizzes about the TV show.

Which of the following are the reasons you use social media for TV show related activities? Do you use them to…?
 Source: Viacom, n = 1, 

47% of respondents ‘follow’ or ‘like’ a TV show. After taking this action, respondents were 75% more likely to watch that show: 43% of respondents were more likely to watch the show live, and 40% of respondents were more likely to watch reruns of the show. A separate survey on live TV viewing by Nielsen found that most TV is still watched live. ‘Liking’ or ‘following’ also satisfies functional motivations by providing show schedules and updates.

When you start ‘liking’ or ‘following’ a TV show, channel, character, actor, producer, etc. on social media, how does that typically affect how often you do each of the following related to watching the TV show?
 Source: Viacom, n = 1, 

For more information on this study, refer to Viacom Social Media Survey.

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

Gravatar Image
Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.