In another life, I’d be a couch potato. Seriously. I do enjoy television. These days, with no time to watch television shows when they are actually aired, the DVR is my best friend. I also like that I can look up a hashtag on Twitter or check a show’s Facebook page to see what I missed or to check out what’s coming up. Despite naysayers warnings, social media has only served to enhance my viewing experience, not replace it.
Here is a list of 4 TV shows using social media to engage with its audience:
1. Fringe on Fox Saved by Twitter Hashtags
On its last season, Fringe has consistently used Twitter hashtags to engage its audience. This sci-fi TV series created by by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci premiered on the Fox in 2008. It stars Anna Torv (Olivia Dunham),Joshua Jackson (Peter Bishop), and John Noble (Walter Bishop), as members of a Federal Bureau of Investigation “Fringe Division” team based in Boston, Massachusetts under the supervision of Homeland Security. It is called that because “fringe” science refers to unexplained occurrences much like The X-Files before it. Now they are in a battle to save mankind from “The Observers.” The action is gripping, but the human drama and philosophical aspects even more captivating.
Here’s how Fringe uses twitter to engage its fans. As with many shows on the Fox network, a hashtag accompanies each episode allowing fans to comment, tweet, discuss the show. Hashtags like #turningpoint and #followthetapes give clues to the Fringe shows without giving too much away. What’s cool is, for a fan like me, who misses an episode, I can simply search up the hashtag and find out what I missed. For non-fans, trending hashtags could entice them to watch a show they otherwise would never have heard of.
Follow @fringeonFox on Twitter, and if you are a sci-fi TV fan (or come on, an old Dawson’s Creek fan, admit it), you will not be disappointed. FRINGE will probably go down in history as the TV show saved by Twitter hashtags. Read Social TV Digest’s post about that here.
2. New Girl Rewards Fans on Social Media
New Girl starring the so-called adorkable Zooey Deschanel @zooeydeschanel is somewhat new but has instantly gained a TV following with its strategic use of social media to create not just a new sitcom but a phenomenon. If by phenomenon you mean, over 244,000 Twitter followers and 1.9 million Facebook fans, over a relatively short period of time. It helps that the show is truly hilarious and has such a gifted cast (My personal favorite? Max Greenfield as Schmidt, @iamgreenfield on Twitter)
New girl has used twitter hashtags like #trueamerican and #mcmouse to grow its audience. The hashtags, released before an episode airs, are related to events happening in the storyline. In addition, followers have access to exclusive content like behind-the-scenes photos and videos. But perhaps one of the best features of its fan engagement is awarding one new follower with “Fan of the Week” status which is includes a shout out during the live television broadcast!
Follow @newgirlonFox on Twitter.
3. Pretty Little Liars Engages Fans on Various Platforms
If there were an award for the show that was most engaged on social media, it would have to go to Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family. Pretty Little Liars (#PLL @abcfpll on Twitter) is based on Sara Shepard’s young adult-novel series about 4 friends, namely Spencer Hastings (played by Troian Bellisario), Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson), Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale), and Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell).
According to Bluefin Labs, Pretty Little Liars received the most comments on Twitter for a cable drama during its season 3 premiere. The ABC family series’ June 5 season premiere racked up a record 534,000 tweets during airtime. 100,000 of them were posted in the first five minutes, and it peaked at about 34,000 tweets per minute.
Like the other shows, specific hashtags air during the actual show. One of the things, that makes #PLL different is that the cast and creators actively engage online. Cast members, like Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson and Keegan Allen, are encouraged to reach out to fans via social media including Twitter and Instagram. It also helps that the show’s core audience is social savvy.
From @LucyHale89s Instagram Feed – a behind the scenes look at the Halloween episode with guest Adam Lambert
4. The Voice Connects with a Social Media Correspondent
Finally, there is The Voice. Or should we say #thevoice that uses hashtags and Twitter to get fans to communicate not just with the judges but with the contestants as well. While the banter on the show by the judges especially Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) and Adam Levine (@adamlevine) is fun, their Twitter conversations are even more entertaining!
Comments appear in a letterbox during the show, kind of like pop-up videos on VH-1. Which leads us to… yes, Christina Millian the live social media correspondent of the show. Like a VH-1 or MTV VJ from back in the day, Christina appears in between segments to call on fans to sound off via Twitter; she also fields questions for contestants from fans. She live-tweets the show as well via @cmillianofficial, her own account with 610,051 followers as of this writing.
Follow @NBCTheVoice on Twitter
Surely there are more television shows that are using social media channels to engage their audiences but these are the shows currently on my DVR. More than being able to connect with my favorite show and its cast, what I love about social media, is being part of the communal experience of watching TV – albeit late and on my own time. There is still that sense of community that exists when one is able to discuss a show’s episode and hypothesize about its meaning, with a fellow fan halfway around the world.