If you’ve watched any episodes in the current series of X Factor you’ll be aware that the show’s producers are pulling out all the stops to get people talking about the show on social media.

During the auditions new hashtags flashed up after almost every performer, which may have seemed like overkill, but was in fact a shrewd tactic for encouraging more people to tune in.

This is because a new Red Bee Media survey of 2,000 smartphone owners found that one in three respondents said that they are more likely to watch a show live rather than on-demand if there is significant social buzz around that programme.

In fact social media appears to be the most effective way for broadcasters to engage with smartphone owners, as although 86% of respondents said they have used a second screen while watching TV just one in five have used a synchronous companion app such as Zeebox.

It should be noted however that in the population as a whole second screening is less popular than among smartphone owners.

A survey of 2,000 UK respondents by Deloitte found that 24% of people use second screens while watching TV, though almost half of all 16-24 year olds use communication tools such as messaging, email, Facebook or Twitter to discuss what they are watching on TV.

Data included in our recent report, The Multi-Screen Marketer, shows that different types of programmes drive different online behaviours.

Reality shows and sporting events create the most non-commerce related online activities, probably due to the fact that viewers go online to discuss what they are watching on social media.

In contrast, independent dramas apparently drive the most commerce related activities.

Second screen apps

Though the number of smartphone owners that have used a dedicated second screen app remains low, those that have used one rate them positively.

In the Red Bee Media survey 78% of respondents said that smart devices are a better way to engage with their favourite TV shows, with the most appealing functionality being the ability to respond to TV shows through polls or voting (55%) and the ability to participate or influence a show by playing along (52%).

There is also potential to increase brand engagement through second screens.

Almost half (44%) of dual screeners have used their second screen to find out more about brands or advertising, while 56% are open to receiving targeted ads through synchronous apps based on products featured on TV.

Additionally, 40% would be willing to receive offers or promotions on their smart devices based on products featured on TV.