Research: Social Media Doesn't Play Starring Role In Network Marketing

Despite the hoopla about social media driving interest in new fall shows, network marketers probably shouldn’t abandon thick inserts in entertainment magazines or planes tugging banners over beaches. Not to mention cut back on their on-air promos. Which is a bummer considering using Facebook and Twitter is a lot cheaper than buying glossy pages or hiring pilots.

Even with half the world on Facebook and Twitter generating more traffic than the Jersey Turnpike on a holiday eve, new research suggests social media will continue with an ensemble not starring role in launching new shows.

Among social media users ages 13 to 54, a Knowledge Networks survey found only 5% said the platform is “very important” in getting them to check out a new show. That percentage was the same for members of Generations Y and X.

Yet, about 25% indicated social media is “somewhat important” in their decision to view a new show. For Generations Y and X, the percentages were 30% and 22%, respectively.



So, yes, there's indication networks should continue to tinker with their Facebook pages, even with the risk that comes with an open forum they offer. For example, one brazenly impolite visitor to the NBC page for “Whitney” this week wrote: “This show sucks!!! Save ‘Community’!!”

But, transparency can mean authenticity, which can set social media apart. And it can generate word-of-mouth quicker than romance rumors in a third-grade class.  

In the Knowledge Networks survey – conducted Sept. 27-Oct. 3 – about 30% of 13-to-54 year-olds said “positive comments” from online-only friends made them more interested in a new show.

Also, 25% said an interesting Facebook page makes them more interested and 15% said a show trending on Twitter builds that kind of appeal. (The online survey included 1,050 13-to-54 year-olds.)

One might think that social media interaction might lessen the role of traditional TV critics. But network publicists hoping that cynical, cranky lot will lose some influence should still probably ensure they get DVDs to review, packed with a bottle of Malbec.

Knowledge Networks reports 44% of social media users said “positive comments” from reviewers increase their interest in a new show.

Moving outside new fall launches, results show social media is growing as a resource for TV-viewing decisions, but not markedly among active searchers. From 2009 to 2011, the percentage of survey participants who use social media “sometimes” or “regularly” for information, reviews or recommendations rose from 32% to 45%. Yet, those saying they used it “regularly” went up only from 5% to 9%.

Much has been made of single-show, double-task behavior, where people watch a program and visit the show’s Web site at the same time. But only 4% of Gen Yers and 3% of Gen Xers say they do it regularly.

Yet, a slightly higher 10% and 7% say they use social media every evening they watch TV. And, across 13-to-54 year-olds who do so, 6% say they regularly use it read about a TV program or network; 8% to “friend,” “like” or “follow” them; and 4% post or comment about them.

The survey offers plenty for TV marketers to comment on as they brainstorm how to use social media to get the stubborn American public to turn on, tune in and not drop out. 

2 comments about "Research: Social Media Doesn't Play Starring Role In Network Marketing ".
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  1. Malcolm Rasala from Real Creatives Worldwide, December 1, 2011 at 3:24 a.m.

    "Even with half the world on Facebook". I thought there were 7 billion people in the world? Is this more FB hype that they have 3.5 billion users? No once again Mr Goetzl fabricates the truth. This American artform
    to hype reality fools no one out here in the
    other 98% of the world.

    Sorry Mr Goetz, sorry FB your hype is considered laughable to anyone with an intelligent mind. Eventually reality forces its
    way in: "Among social media users ages 13 to 54, a Knowledge Networks survey found only 5% said the platform is “very important” in getting them to check out a new show. That percentage was the same for members of Generations Y and X".

  2. Paul Dunay from NETWORKED INSIGHTS, December 5, 2011 at 10:03 a.m.

    “Social buzz” often gets a bad rap because many people are attempting to cash in on the sensationalism that is reporting the shows with the highest numbers instead of understanding the context (semantically and topically) in which generate these numbers and drives the conversations. The other issue is that people have a tendency to mash “pre-premiere buzz” and “post-premiere conversations” into the same bucket. Pre-premiere buzz is a valuable indicator whether or not people are actually interested in checking out the show, and using that data to help direct marketing campaigns results in larger premiere ratings. Post-premiere conversations on the other hand need to be viewed differently because people are now interacting with the actual content of the show. If they love the content than social conversations only continue to add value to the property and you will see the bump in ratings that Nielsen hinted at back in October. If it’s not compelling content, than social is the fastest and cheapest focus group you could mine on how to re-position or tweak the show.

    We here at Networked Insights have been successfully helping our clients make smarter, more data-driven and efficient TV deals. If you’d like to read more about our thoughts on SocialTV then just check us out at, or feel free to reach out to us.

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