Television pushes social media really hard in its advertising these days. You'll see ads and even TV shows with hashtags in the corner, and anyone who watches AMC shows knows about their whole "second screen experience" deal which keeps you tethered to your computer while you watch The Walking Dead or Mad Men. But Nielsen has found that most viewers aren't all that engaged with social media while they watch TV.
Only 16.1 percent of the survey respondents said they had used social media while watching TV during prime time. And less than half of the people using social media were actually discussing the show they were watching.
Facebook was by far the most popular social network for people chatting during shows, used by about 11.4 percent of TV watchers, compared with 3.3 percent for Twitter.
The research findings contradict the notion — peddled heavily by Twitter and Facebook in their pitches to producers — that conversations on Twitter and Facebook are a big factor driving people to tune into TV shows.
The study found that tradtional promotion - good old fashion advertising - was still a driver for 40% of people to watch a show. The big exception was live events, especially awards shows, because everyone wants to provide running commentary on celebrity outfits and their graceful loser faces.