Earlier this year, I gave a quick talk at the TV Connect conference about how you can use social media to get right to the heart of your viewer base, even in the age of peak TV.
Below is a shortened version of my speaker notes.
So first a bit of background. What is peak tv? Put simply; it’s just that there are too many shows.
According to Research, 455 original scripted programs aired on American television in 2016, that’s up from 210 shows in 2009. A massive increase. Now I realise we’re in the UK, but with global release dates becoming more common, access to Netflix and on-demand programming, alongside satellite and cable, we’re in a very similar situation. There’s ‘too much’ great stuff out there.
I don’t know how much you guys know about fandom, so I’ll explain a little.Fandom has been around for a long time. It’s not new. Fun fact, loads of the fandom vernacular (shipping for example) actually originates from the first Star Trek series.
Fandom essentially means anything that fans create around the thing they love, and the fans themselves. E.g Comicon is all about fandom.
Tumblr, a slightly lesser know social/blogging network is the home to all things fandom.
The takeaway here for social TV is that the fandom itself LOVES the show we’re trying to market. They’re overwhelmingly positive about it.
So, how do you find out about what your fandom are into? (click for gif)
Always start with Tumblr.
Fandometrics is a weekly updated part of Tumblr that ranks all the different fandoms on Tumblr by subject. It is an invaluable research tool for Social TV with any kind of millennial/Z fanbase.
My strategies always start with talking to the fandom. Identifying these guys is like finding the biggest built in advocates for your show. So I start with them and then the social influencer and bloggers start to pay attention, and from there you can reach the mainstream.
Back to Doctor who again. While I was writing the strategy for the Mission Dalek campaign, I felt it was really important to understand the implications of the different types of audience who were fans of shows on different platforms. For example, when looking at the best way to connect with Dr Who fans on Instagram I identified a huge community of girls who cosplay as the various female assistants. I decided to leverage this as a way to get the often overlooked younger female Whovians involved in our competition, by allowing them to enter with cosplay images.
The US broadcaster CW knows this better than anyone else. Social TV champions from the get-go, they figured out which shows had the biggest audiences on which platforms and prioritised content there way back in 2014. Reign was all about Pinterest due to the costumes; Supernatural has always ruled Tumblr and the then new ‘The Flash’ was fast becoming a YouTube sensation.
Understanding which of your fans are on which platforms and the content that resonates on that platform will help you more than anything else when it comes to engagement planning.
And so to my final, and most important point.
When social first started, way back a decade ago, building communities was the whole point of Twitter. Then marketing came and suddenly it was a place just to advertise. Community was out of the proverbial window.
Well, the one sure-fire secret to really engaging with your fans in the age of peak TV, is to hire a great community manager.
A community manager is like a social media manager ‘plus’ They are tasked not just with publishing updates and responding to enquiries, but actively being involved in, and growing the community that they’re looking after.
I was writing the social strategy for E4 a couple of years back, and to test my hypothesis I took on community management duties for one week.
During that time e4 were airing Supernatural but weren’t really aware of the huge fandom around it. I created a strategy to truly engage with the fans by doing things like:
- Creating content that would resonate with them
- Speaking in their language ‘shipping terms etc.’
- Live tweeting key moments of the shows
This resulted in not just an outpouring of love for e4 from fans during the week, but also with metrics.
The week leading up to my community management, there had been a paid campaign running, I won’t disclose how much, but it was a not insignificant amount of money. This achieved 572k impressions.
The week I took over, organically, we achieved almost 750 thousand impressions.
Which just goes to show what a combination of a good social strategy and a good community manager who knows your content can do.