Lifetime announces social TV strategy for 'Project Runway'

By Natan Edelsburg 

The Social TV Summit in LA is underway, you can watch the live stream here on Lost Remote. A+E Networks’ SVP of Digital Media Evan Silverman is about to take the stage on the panel moderated by Arktan where he will present the network’s new social TV play for the upcoming season of Project Runway that premieres on Thursday. After the network added Twitter-voting and a robust social strategy last year, what are their big plans for the new season?

Silverman will be announcing that Lifetime will be launching the first consumer-facing use of SocialGuide‘s API for Twitter that will unite designers, judges and fans for live conversations during the show’s weekly airing. Social Guide will power two initiatives, “Real-Time Runway” with Lexus as a sponsor and “Favorite Fan” with L’Oreal Paris as a sponsor. Here are the details from the network.

Real-Time Runway features show-specific trending topics through two Twitter streams: one curating the conversation of all fans and the other displaying the accounts of Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, the judges, guest judges and other notable accounts. Because the “runway” is live during each airing, it automatically detects if fans are visiting from the east or west coast and displays their specific feed to avoid spoilers.

Favorite Fan uses a customized data feed from SocialGuide to display the show’s most re-tweeted comments from the audience in real-time, creating a Twitter leader board that will be live during each broadcast from 9pm EST Thursday until 1:30am EST Friday. One winner will be chosen per episode and will receive a $500 prize along with the title of Favorite Fan.

Since SocialGuide’s launched their “On” real-time product, we’ve been curious to see what types of partnerships would entail. It seems that they, too, are getting into the social TV white-labeling business that will also show off their analytics and data. Lifetime is taking a big step in going beyond just strategy, but really making social a big part of the linear experience, while also rewarding fans and tying in brands.

We talked with Dan Suratt, EVP Digital Media and Business Development for A+E Networks, about the social TV approach for the new season:

1. Why did you decide to partner with Social Guide on this consumer facing product and how does it work?

We’re running three campaigns for Project Runway season 10: “Fan Favorite” presented by L’Oreal Paris, “Favorite Fan” presented by L’Oreal Paris and “Real-Time Runway” presented by Lexus.

For Fan Favorite, we’re working with Mass Relevance to help curate the stream of tweets and to count the designer hashtags used by fans. For the other two initiatives, we’re working with SocialGuide. Our social media team has been using the SocialGuide “On Now” tool to assist in live tweeting and we saw that the level of curation and data it offers could be used in unique ways to benefit fans of the show.

2. How did your strategy/use of social tv grow for this season?

Project Runway season 9 ranked as the most social show on cable TV during the time it was on air from July-October — averaging 4.9 comments per unique user — so we definitely wanted to run Fan Favorite again for season 10. To build on that promotion, we saw an opportunity to leverage the development of real-time APIs to reward fans for their social activity around Project Runway during the broadcast. Favorite Fan is essentially a popularity contest for our fans, and Fan Favorite is a popularity contest for the designers. With Real-Time Runway we are looking to augment the basics you’d expect with a show social media hub with features found nowhere else.

3. How does each part work, Fan Favorite, Favorite Fan and Real-Time Runway?

Fan Favorite encourages people to use designer-specific hashtags — integrated in on-air graphics and posted on our digital platforms — to vote and then we tally the tweets using those hashtags for each designer throughout the season. The designer with the most tweets at season’s end is crowned the Fan Favorite and awarded $10,000.

Favorite Fan recognizes our most dedicated audience on Twitter by highlighting the most re-tweeted Project Runway tweets each episode. We’re using a customized data feed from SocialGuide to create a real-time leader board each episode and then we’ll reward the top fan with $500 each week and a spot on the winner’s list on the leader board page on

Real-Time Runway runs during all linear airings — premiere and repeat — and offers our fans an array of exclusive filtering and curation to help them follow and participate in the Project Runway social media conversation any time the show is on TV. We’re the first TV network to use SocialGuide’s Twitter TV API Suite and as a result can offer functionality found nowhere else such as Project Runway specific trending hashtags and simultaneous time zone-specific feeds so that fans on the West Coast can avoid spoilers.

4. Anything else?

All three of these campaigns are designed to meet the usual goals of increasing fan engagement and promoting tune-in, and they’re also specifically designed to give fans a way to help a designer (Fan Favorite), to reward the fans themselves (Favorite Fan), and to provide one-of-a-kind features to assist people participating in the conversation (Real-Time Runway). Most important, however, is that they are tied to the live, linear broadcast and really focused on rallying the show’s fan base when Project Runway is on air.