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Viacom has unveiled the results of "When Networks Network: TV Gets Social," its new multi-country study investigating the relationship between TV and social media usage. The findings uncovered three key types of motivations leading fans to engage in TV-related social media activities: Functional, Communal and Playful.
"Our objective with this research was not only to understand what drives our audiences to social media, but also to see how their social media activity impacts viewing behaviors," said Colleen Fahey Rush , Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer, Viacom Media Networks. "At Viacom, we're focused on creating social experiences that continue the conversation off-screen and deepen the relationships between our fans and their favorite shows and characters."
The multi-country study involved social media diaries in the U.S., as well as online communities in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. International online surveys were conducted in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Brazil and Russia with more than 5,000 Viacom viewers ages 13-49 who use two or more social media platforms on at least a weekly basis.
Viewers engage in an average of 10 TV-related activities on social media platforms on a weekly basis, including: interacting with friends and fans (72per cent ); following/liking a TV show (57per cent ); sharing or recommending (61per cent ); watching full clips and trailers (61per cent ); searching for info and show schedules (66per cent ); and gaming or signing up for freebies (49per cent ). Out of 24 social media activities tracked, three distinct types of motivations for TV-related social media use emerged: Functional (searching for show schedules, news, exclusives); Communal (personal branding, connecting with others); and Playful (gaming, entering contests).
Of the countries included in the study, Viacom found that viewers in Brazil embrace TV-related social media activities the most frequently, while those in Germany are the least likely to do so.
1. Functional: Information Above All
Function trumps all other motivating factors, including socializing, when it comes to TV-related social media use. This is true of all the countries in the study, with viewers in Germany leaning the most towards the functional motivations. Viewers are more interested in the experiences and content offered by networks and TV shows than communicating with others on social media. They use social media sites to:
Functional motives are stronger for teens and young adults. Viewers 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.
"We found it intriguing that TV-related social media behaviors and motivating factors were consistent across all five countries that we looked at in this study," said Christian Kurz , Vice President of Research, Insights and Reporting for VIMN. "Globally, social media is becoming today's version of a TV guide for viewers – it is really how they prefer to get their information about the shows they watch."
2. Communal: The Value of a Facebook 'Like' or a Twitter 'Follower'
Communal factors are the second most common reason for engaging in TV-related social media use. Viewers reported using social media to brand themselves and share taste (34per cent ); to connect with the show (28per cent ); and to connect with other fans (28per cent ).
One way viewers satisfy their Communal motivation is by "liking" a show on Facebook or "following" on Twitter. Viacom's research has uncovered the long-questioned value of such Facebook "likes" or Twitter "follows" when it comes to TV. After "liking" or "following" a show, viewers were a full 75 per cent more likely to watch that show. Viewers also watch more in an average of three different ways (live, stream, reruns), and engage more with TV shows and channels on digital platforms:
"Liking" or "following" also satisfies functional motivations by providing show schedules and updates.
3. Playful: Social TV Games Matter
Third, playful experiences drive TV-related social media activities, including playing for rewards (24 per cent to get freebies or enter contests) or playing games (25 per cent games; 24 per cent quizzes/polls).
Social media games help drive viewership, with around 30 per cent of respondents having gamed before ever watching a show. About half reported watching a show more due to the show's social media game. Game shows, comedy and reality shows come in as the top genres for gaming.
Social Media and Show Discovery
Social media ranked third (39per cent ) as a source of show discovery, behind promos (54per cent ) and word of mouth (50per cent ). The exception is Brazil, where social media ranked even higher as a source of show discovery, second only to TV promos.
The research revealed that social media-fueled show discovery uniquely and positively impacts live tune-in, with viewers significantly more likely to watch a show premiere on live TV when that show is discovered via social media.