Social Media can drive television viewership. How you accomplish your goal depends on the environment of the television program.
Major Networks, Cable channels, Syndication Studios, and Local Broadcast Stations all use Social Media to Drive Television Viewership.
First lets look at the major broadcast networks, and their efforts to promote existing and new programs. To date, Social Media has been very effective in driving viewers to the small screen. In addition to posting ads on major social platforms, they enlist the efforts of their program stars to Tweet, post to Facebook, and post to Instagram. Many times engaging viewers before, during, and after the program has aired. Overall, Social Media is now a major component to broadcast network success. Programs like Empire on FOX, Scandal and Black-ish on ABC have been very successful using Social Media to drive television viewership. The networks utilize Social Media to a lesser extent for programs that have already been on the air, and have a loyal audience. National Cable channels operate similar to the national broadcast networks, but on a smaller scale. That is with the exception of the ESPN Networks. They are the highest producing channels within the cable universe. ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC Sports and all other cable sports channels use Social Media to drive television viewership.
Now, lets look at syndication studios and their efforts to utilize Social Media. The very nature of syndication, makes their jobs more difficult. There are over 211 individual markets that can be potentially licensed for each syndicated program. A show like Ellen may air at 9a in one market on the east coast, a different time on various stations in the central time zone, and any number of variations in time period and stations on the west coast. Therefore tweets, and postings should be made in relation to the entire day. Syndicated programs also run contests for viewers, far more often than their network counterparts. Social Media is a great platform to promote those efforts. The real tricky part, is personalizing the tweets, posts, etc for a particular market or station. Several syndicated shows do a great job on Social Media. Talk shows Ellen, Kelly and Michael, and Wendy Williams have been very successful with Social Media. Older shows like Wheel of Fortune are rarely promoted on Social Media. Second only to the major broadcast networks, syndication studios use Social Media to drive television viewership.
Finally, lets look at the local broadcast affiliate. For example, WFAA in Dallas is an ABC affiliate station, but is owned by Gannett. They are a large and extremely successful television station group with the resources for a excellent social media team. Instead of network or syndicated programs that run on their station. Their Social Media team focuses on local news, which is their greatest source of revenue. On air talent, must also tweet, post, and update their Social Media. To maximize ratings, local affiliates use Social Media to drive television viewership.