Have a show with a multigenerational appeal.
Take Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants. The show has been around 13 years, and though for kids, one-third of its audience is over 18. It’s got a massive following on Facebook with nearly 37 million fans, and more than 560,000 followers who see SpongeBob’s wisecracking daily tweets (“I’d love to be a rock star, but I just don’t have the pants for it”). All that fan love makes SpongeBob the most social TV show, per Trendrr, which tracks all Twitter and Facebook activity.
Don’t underestimate your viewers.
USA’s WWE Raw and VH1’s 106 and Park, two of the most social TV shows, per Trendrr, are good examples of pushing for more. Constant calls to action make Twitter a lead player in the programs, and WWE cast members bombard viewers with calls to action. While 106 and Park regularly changes and uses multiple hashtags, its audience doesn’t seem to have a problem keeping up.
Associate with brands that “get” social platforms.
Brands not only want product placement but also want to use the social currency of a show to raise product awareness—especially if viewers take an active role by voting. That’s great for the show and brands alike because the two feed off each other. See Fox’s American Idol/Coke and Fox’s X-Factor/Pepsi.
Hit the right demo.
The Twitterverse skews young, urban and multicultural (25 percent of black consumers online are on Twitter versus 9 percent of whites). And it’s slightly more male than female. VH1’s Love and Hip Hop Atlanta hits that demo head on, as does Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club. Case
in point: Love and Hip Hop’s reunion episode racked up 15,000 tweets per minute, per SocialGuide.
Hire Charlie Sheen.
Social media breakout hit WWE Raw hired the star of FX’s Anger Management to tweet to his 7.5 million Twitter followers using the hashtag #sheengetsraw— just one of the many tricks WWE Raw has employed. Being one of the most socially active shows has led some to wonder whether it’s crossed the line into intrusiveness.
Have ads that people actually want to talk (or tweet) about.
If you have an event like the Super Bowl or the Olympics where people actually tune in to see the ads—advertisers have to do something to justify the expense—you’ve got a social media win on your hands.
Have a good scandal.
Idol has been as much a source of gossip—and Twitter traffic—as a breeding ground for new talent. Not a surprise, considering its contestants’ wacky behavior, on- and off-stage. When Abercrombie & Fitch asked The Situation from MTV’s Jersey Shore not to wear its clothes, the stunt backfired: cast mate Vinny Guadagnino created hashtag #lasttimeiworeabercrombie, which quickly became a trending topic. Even a scripted scandal (we’re looking at you, WWE) can be good for business.
Have a singing or dancing contest.
It’s obvious perhaps, but viewers can’t seem to get enough of them, and they’re made for real-time social interaction. Three of the biggest social hits (Idol, X Factor, ABC’s Dancing With the Stars) are of the genre. Shows regularly set records for social interaction.
Be on all the time.
Shows like SpongeBob, Fox’s Family Guy and CBS’ Big Bang Theory all air multiple times throughout the week on different nets and via different platforms, turning big numbers that create that much more opportunity for social conversations.
Have a tent-pole event.
If all else fails, have a sporting event like the Super Bowl or Olympics (sports account for half of Twitter activity) or an awards show like the MTV Video Music Awards.