A new study co-authored by a Kelley School of Business professor suggests making social media updates about lives TV shows does more than annoy friends who aren’t interested.
When viewers post live updates about shows like "The Bachelor" or the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, they are more likely to be committed to watching, according to a new study titled “Social TV, Advertising, and Sales: Are Social Shows Good for Advertisers?”
The study, published online in March, was co-authored by business school professor Beth Fossen and Emory University professor David Schweidel.
“There’s an existing belief that if you’re on your phone, it’s distracting you from whatever else is going on,” Fossen said. “It turns out that isn’t always the case.”
Tweeting along to “social shows,” or shows people post about, also leads viewers to tune in more closely to advertisements. The study found live-tweeters pay better attention to advertisements and are more likely to shop online for products they see during the show than people who don't live-tweet.
This information is important to the TV industry because it helps TV networks gauge how much to price ads, Fossen said. She said it also helps advertisers decide when to air their ads in order to get the biggest response.
Though the research in the study is focused on Twitter habits, Fossen said she anticipates the trends will continue on other platforms as Twitter loses its popularity.
“People use multiple devices at once, and that’s not changing anytime soon,” she said. “This study is here to say using multiple devices doesn’t always mean people are paying less attention.”
Some IU students, however, still opt to put their phone down and zone-in on TV.
“I know when 'Game of Thrones' comes out this weekend, Twitter is going to be crazy,” junior Luke Bilotta said. “I’d rather put down my phone until afterwards and then get caught-up.”
Graduate student Shijing Zhang said she puts away her phone when she’s invested in shows as well. She said when she finds herself using Twitter and Snapchat, it usually means she is bored or distracted.
But Trevor Kirtman, a University Information Technology Services employee and IU graduate, said he frequently watches his Twitter for live updates during sports. He sometimes messages friends too.
“I feel like looking at updates from other people isn’t necessarily distracting,” Kirtman said. “Sometimes, it enhances the experience.”