How A&E used Instagram to promote Longmire

By Natan Edelsburg 

A&E’s new scripted show Longmire just hit a ratings high with it’s eight episode that aired on Sunday with 4.5 million viewers (comparatively Breaking Bad had 2.9). The show, which tells the story of of author Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire, is about a Wyoming Sheriff recovering from the loss of his wife and a cunning younger deputy who decides to run against him in the election. To launch the show, the network launched the “Longmire OUT WEST-AGRAM” photo contest on Facebook. We spoke with Guy Slattery, the EVP of A&E Marketing, about Instagram’s role in the social TV mix.

The Facebook-hosted contest (built with Glow Interactive), which is now closed, used Instagram to allow you to “upload a photo on Instagram that you feel represents the theme OUT WEST and tag it with #Longmire.” The winner of the competition gets a brand new DSLR camera. Recognizing that Instagram was the right social platform to build buzz around the show helped generate tons of original photos that captured the West through the eyes of potential fans of the show.

Did Instagram help drive good linear ratings for the show? There’s no direct proof, but it definitely didn’t hurt. Slattery told us about the network’s decision to use Instagram and their social TV strategy for their new hit that’s already been picked up for a second season.

Lost Remote: Why is A&E using Instagram for Longmire?

Guy Slattery: Longmire is an extremely visual show, it’s a contemporary crime thriller set in the big sky country of Wyoming. As the western location itself is so integral to the show, we wanted our fans to engage with it and submit their interpretations of being “Out West” in a visually creative and social way. Leveraging the #1 social photo-sharing platform felt like a no-brainer.

Lost Remote: How does the competition work?

Slattery: Our call to action was…You don’t have to be in Wyoming to capture the essence of being OUT WEST!

Here’s how it works. Fans upload a photo on Instagram that they feel best represents the theme OUT WEST and tag it with #Longmire. We encourage users to be creative and use their imagination. Once uploaded, fans encourage their followers to “like” and share their photo with their friends. Ultimately, photos that best portray being OUT WEST are entered for a chance to win. Keeping in with the photography theme, one grand prize winner will receive a new DSLR camera, $100 gift card for photography classes, one DSLRZoom Lens, and a digital picture frame. The Out West-agram photo galleries are then shared on Facebook, Tumblr and our brand site.

LR: How does Instagram help make TV more social?

Slattery: When creating any of our social campaigns, our goal is to engage our audience in unique and compelling ways, generate awareness and buzz around our programming and ultimately drive tune-in. Using Instagram allows us to tap into a huge social audience that uploads photos relevant to our brand, and then shares that content across all of their other social platforms… Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. I think there are a lot more ways that television networks will figure out how to leverage Instagram going forward.

LR: How else are you using social TV to launch the show?

Slattery: In addition to the Instagram competition, we launched an Out West Tumblr account and an online grassroots PR campaign reaching out to western enthusiasts. We supported all initiatives across our social media channels and on-air with custom promo spots and in-show hashtags and call outs. Some of the actors on the show are extremely active on Twitter and they have also really helped us spread buzz around the show.