FX’s spooky social TV strategy for ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’

By Natan Edelsburg Comment

On Halloween last year we provided an inside look at the social media world of the spookiest show on TV. American Horror Story (AHS) went on to become one of the most successful new shows of the season, making the horror genre more appealing than ever. Unlike most shows on TV, AHS decided to reboot and refresh most of it’s cast for a brand new spooky storyline – this time about an “Asylum“. We interviewed FX SVP of Marketing Sally Daws about their social TV strategy for the new season (premiere on October 17th at 10pm ET).

A new cast and a new storyline definitely creates a challenge when trying to re-engage social TV fans. The good news for FX was that their fans are as addicted to the new type of horror show as they are the story line. Daws explains how they executed a “similar strategy” but one that “doubled down on the amount of content” they created. A big part of that content strategy had to do with releasing clips of the new season very early on.

They partnered with EW and used their Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter presence to release exclusive clips. Daws explains how “AHS was GetGlue’s Most Social TV show of 2011 behind the ‘The Big Bang Theory’.” For the new season they’ve launched a unique check-in partnership with GetGlue.”When users check-in they’ll unlock a sticker and If we reach our goal of 25K check-ins it’ll unlock an exclusive behind the scenes video available to GetGlue users first then shared to the rest of their social channels,” according to the platform. Currently, 19,470 have unlocked it.

Lost Remote: With a new cast and story line, how did you think about launching the show using social media, differently from last year?
Sally Daws: We pursued a similar strategy to S1, but this year we were able to leverage a highly engaged fan base. In addition, we doubled down on the amount of content produced and rolled out 24 different teasers promoting the new season. We released exclusively to our Facebook fans and then pushed out to a syndicate of bloggers and entertainment sites. The first :30 teaser was released in conjunction with Entertainment Weekly, who did a cover story on the new season. All of the pieces are tagged with Facebook and Twitter icons to prompt the social discussion and viral activity.  The newness of the cast and storyline enables us to have both a fresh perspective and assets to seed the core fan base, and an opportunity to have them curate for new followers. We’ve also seen great results from a view and fan acquisition standpoint on Facebook and YouTube. We are also leveraging our content on Pinterest and Instagram.

We see that fans are almost rabid for new content, and that the content is consumed and shared rapidly within the network. In addition to raw numbers, we gain valuable consumer insight via instant response from our viewers. For example, one fan commented on our first teaser “Special Delivery” – “Where’s the Holy Shit button”.

LR: Has it been difficult to reignite your fans from last season? Are they upset about the new storyline/cast?
Daws: The new storyline and cast provide both a challenge and an opportunity. I’m sure there are a few fans of last season’s cast who were upset to hear this season will feature a whole new story, but the new storyline gives us a unique marketing angle; a hit show that has received 17 Emmy nominations is coming back, and you don’t have to have seen the first season to understand or follow. Many times consumers may opt out of a buzzy show because they find the 13 hours to catch up intimidating. Not necessary with this type of show format. The commentary we have seen thus far from the content release strategy is overwhelmingly positive. I think the fans love the show, and can’t contain their excitement for a new chapter.

LR: What are some of the highlights of your social TV strategy? How have you been leaking clips on Facebook, elsewhere, what are the results?
Daws: We’ve received a ton of social media engagement and editorial coverage for the rollout so far. We’ve had hundreds of thousands of views of the videos and increased the fans on our AHS significantly. AHS was GetGlue’s Most Social TV show of 2011 behind the “The Big Bang Theory”.

LR: How does the competition to win a night in an asylum work?

  • August 31st– Sept 9- Fans can log on to AHSAsylum.com to take a psychological exam inspired by the upcoming season, complete with Rorschach inkblots and viral AHS content. Fans will receive a diagnosis they can share, and can register for the opportunity to visit the AHS asylum.
  • 4 Winners will experience a night of evaluation, experiments and frights at the AHS asylum on September 29, housed in an old northeastern facility notorious for paranormal activity.
  • Content from the experience will be featured on the promotional site to support the premiere, and fans can continue to take the psychological exam and share their results.

LR: Have you been working with the cast at all?
Daws: We have an “embedded producer” on set shooting interviews and b-roll. The cast has been great, and we’ve been getting really good content. It’s critical to have this type of access so we can support our social content strategy. I think talent is becoming much more savvy and really understands how important it is to both reach out to our fans and give them a peek behind the curtain.

FX’s robust and multi-platform campaign, focused on content is the perfect way to launch a new season of one of TV’s best dramas.