Published: August 24, 2010 10.12 Europe/London

Social Media’s impact on traditional media varies dramatically by age, according to a new report from the business advisory firm Deloitte.

The YouGov study, released to coincide with the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival that begins on Friday, found that despite regular encouragement from broadcasters it is still the exception rather than the rule to comment on a programme currently being watched in the web. However among 18-24 year olds the practice is more widespread and it is now becoming standard for programmes targeted at this age group to incorporate a social media and social network element.

A similar niche was found for membership of online fan groups. While 40% of the UK is now signed up to Facebook, only 7% of those polled have become fans of their favourite programmes. However, among 18-24 year olds penetration is an impressive 46%

“The phenomenal pace at which social media and social networks have become entrenched within our everyday lives raises the question of their possible long-term impacts on television,” commented Howard Davies media partner at Deloitte. “While social networks and media do support each other, the synergy varies by genre and age. Programmes aimed at younger age groups tend to experience the greatest symbiosis: a few programmes and commercials become greater successes or are plucked from obscurity thanks to online peer recommendation”.

Davies says that this can lead to a snowball effect as old and new media pick up on the story. In turn this raises the value of the content and attracts a greater appeal from advertisers.