6 Ways for TV Shows to Build Buzz in Social Media

Opinion: Here are six ways to use social content to garner attention in a climate in which attention is at a premium

455 shows are vying for his attention
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As the fall TV season rolls out, there has never been more competition to market new shows.

In 2016, there were 455 scripted TV shows across broadcast, cable and streaming services, versus 211 in 2009.

What’s more, the explosion of new series comes as marketers of all types are facing increasing obstacles to reaching consumers, including multiple devices, shrinking attention spans and the growth of ad blockers.

Yet the show must go on. Now that this year’s fall season is on-air, networks, cable operators and online distributors will once again vie for attention and sustainability. How best to go about it?

Here are six ways to use social content to garner attention in a climate in which attention is at a premium:

  1. Broadcast 24/7 for new and old fans alike: Your show doesn’t just run at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, it’s on all the time, from fans getting their first foray to those on their third binge. Your social feed must be similarly always on, avoiding spoilers while building a deep connection with audiences at all points in the journey. Make use of episodic hashtags, auto-responders, custom content war rooms and applications to engage fans one-on-one, keeping them coming back week over week.
  2. Connect talent with the audience: There are two stories within a show—the fictional narrative viewers see on-screen and the nonfictional one about the actors, writers and producers who put the series together. Talent can help bridge that gap by satisfying fans’ needs to fill in the blanks behind the scenes. Whether it’s a livestream takeover on premiere night or interaction via the actors’ personal Snapchat handles, talent must learn best practices for staying on message, inspiring fan discussion and repurposing brand content to give it more life.
  3. Socialize in motion: To stand out in news feeds, marketers should make use of GIFs, cinemagraphs, and 360-degree videos, in addition to live and canned videos, which can range from 30-second teasers to 15-minute live question-and-answer sessions.
  4. Create ephemeral content: Especially on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, fans now expect snackable content that’s designed to be ephemeral. Get the show’s talent and production team involved in crafting communication that can be consumed in 10-second increments or syndicated week-over-week as a show is ramping up to premiere. Such content doesn’t need to be slick and, in fact, fans will expect some rough edges in these formats, which is part of the charm.
  5. Co-create content with fans: Many fans feel a great deal of ownership over a show’s folklore and the journey on which the characters take them. The story of the fans, their reaction to the characters and how they are inspired by them is another key to building your community. Embrace and reward fan art, fan fiction, speculation and broad forms of participation, occasionally surprising them with acknowledgment from the series and the actors themselves.
  6. Bridge social with all forms of marketing: Whether it’s an out-of-home billboard that comes to life digitally, a print ad that promotes exclusive social teasers or an on-air bumper that pays off with a unique online poll or reward, social marketing is key to counting the eyeballs that see and engage with your content. Fans will be happy to follow bread crumbs to second-screen experiences they can’t find anywhere else. Make social the measurable hub for fan feedback, cast chats and contests—and be sure that online and offline drivers all deliver fans there.

Whatever the series, social should lead the strategy. Although only a fraction of the audience may be on any one of the various social media platforms, social media activity amplifies your overall marketing and achieves your ultimate goal: higher ratings.

Joe Gizzi is group director of strategy at digital agency Meredith Xcelerated Marketing.