When Nielsen polled American consumers in July 2011, only 3 percent used a tablet device to access social media. By just a year later, that number had jumped to 16 percent [source: Nielsen].
Tablet users have a different relationship with their device than smartphone users, and this relationship affects the way they use social media. Tablets are larger and bulkier than smartphones, which makes them less inherently "mobile" than devices that easily fit in your pocket. Also, more than half of all iPads sold worldwide are WiFi only, which means most iPad users can only access social media when they are within range of an available WiFi network [source: Elmer-DeWitt]. These constraints mean that tablet users are more likely than smartphone users to access social media primarily at home.
The home-based use of tablets is reflected in the recent boom in what media analysts call "social TV." A consumer engages in social TV when he or she tweets or posts on Facebook about something happening on TV. Live sports are a popular subject, as are reality TV shows. According to Nielsen, 44 percent of U.S. tablet users engage in social TV watching every day compared to only 38 percent of smartphone users [source: Nielsen].
The large screen size of tablet devices make them well-suited to apps that manage and artfully display several social media feeds. Flipboard is an app that pulls together your favorite news sources, blogs and social media sites into a full-screen "flippable" magazine. Tablets are also ideal for viewing high-resolution images and watching HD movie clips, both of which make up an increasing volume of social media content.