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It's well-established that the second screen phenomenon is real, and there's plenty of reason to believe that social media and television are a perfect match.

But just how well do social media-oriented calls to action on television actually work? According to consulting firm Accenture, they work pretty well.

In a survey of US television viewers, Accenture found that nearly two-thirds (64%) recalled seeing a Facebook 'Like' image on television, and one-third actually interacted with a social media service online "after seeing a social media symbol on their TV screen."

The Facebook 'Like' was the most widely recognized symbol, with some 42% of survey participants understanding what it meant, but interestingly QR codes, long a subject of debate, were more widely recognized than Twitter hashtags. 28% of those surveyed indicating that they could spot a QR code while only 18% were familiar enough with a Twitter hashtag to recognize one.

So why do television viewers follow a social media call-to-action? Seeking out more information about a show or ad was cited by 43% of respondents, with coupons and promotional codes (32%) and contests (31%) being the next most popular reasons. Making a purchase was, perhaps not surprisingly, only cited by 16% of those who took action.

The good news for content providers and brands using social media symbols on television: 74% of the respondents who accessed content based on a social media symbol displayed on television said that their expectations were met, while 15% said that their expectations were exceeded. Unfortunately, getting consumers interested is the biggest challenge, with lack of interest being by far the biggest reason a consumer won't interact after seeing a social media symbol.

And there's another caveat: social media symbols work best on television viewers in the 18 to 24 age group, with well over half of these young adults (63%) saying they've taken cues from social media symbols. Once you get to the age groups 25 and above, however, that number falls to under half, hinting that television shows and brands eager to drive television viewers to take online action will still need to remember that social media isn't the end-all and be-all.

Patricio Robles

Published 17 April, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2379 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Andrew Seel, Managing Director at Qube Media

It would be interesting to know if the people in the survey are simply seeing a social media logo at the end of a TV advert with no related call to action or there is a specific call to action.

The reason I say this is that, in my experience working on campaigns with some major brands with TV and social media elements, if both the TV and SM concept are directly related and there is a clear call to action in the TV ad for users to do/win/buy something in social media then the results in social media are great.

However, if there is no, or little relationship between the TV ad and the social media activity and there is simply a Facebook logo at the end of the TV advert then the results in social media (in terms of traffic from TV) are poor.

My impression is that most adverts fall into the latter category, with no clear and related call to action to social media.

One reason why the Accenture survey suggests that users interact in social media after seeing a symbol on their screen may be because consumers are likely to expect major brands to be on social media anyway.

It would also be interesting to know what users’ expectations were after seeing a symbol on TV, if 74% say they were met. If there is no clear call to action – expectations may be quite low.

over 4 years ago

Andrew Nicholson

Andrew Nicholson, Founder at The Guku

QR code recognition, and QR code use, are two very different metrics. I would be fascinated to know if anyone is getting click through from QR codes featured on television (either in show or in ad)?

over 4 years ago

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Alan Charnock Internet Marketing Seo

The difference between QR codes and twitter hash tags will be longevity. We have already started to see QR codes disappearing and with the announcement of facebook planning a new search engine, I'm sure twitter will up its game by perhaps creating a diary section or something similar.

about 4 years ago

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