In a time where the future of broadcast television is uncertain and the viral video is king, it is essential that TV shows use social media to retain viewers and turn fans into loyal watchers. Every program ultimately wants loyal watchers, or “super fans,” but few programs achieve it. The key to generating super fans is creating an emotional connection between fans and the show. This calls for programs to go beyond posting segments of the show and to also create original content that is specific to social media. The most natural way for TV shows to generate this connection is by posting behind-the-scenes content.
Saturday Night Live, challenged by the departure of veteran cast members like Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Jason Sudeikis, has taken to social media to bond fans of the show with its new cast. Through initiatives like #AskSNL on YouTube, #Freshman15 on Instagram (short videos that feature first-year members), social profile takeovers, and exclusive backstage photos, SNL has found creative ways to let the cast’s personalities shine through.
Behind-the-scenes content, however, doesn’t always have to be visual. Take Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for example. During the January airing of their “Best of Late Night” special, writers and cameramen alike took to social media to provide real-time commentary. Fans who followed #BestofFallon got to read exclusive tidbits of information from the masterminds behind the segments.
TV shows often forget that their writers are their greatest asset, both on the TV screen and the digital screen. The wit and sarcasm used to write Rob Ford jokes on a daily basis naturally makes for entertaining social content. Because of this, writers sometimes have followings that rival that of the show’s stars. In the case of The Tonight Show, Head Writer A.D. Miles has more than 67,000 followers on Twitter. If The Tonight Show were to add up the number of followers every writer and producer has on Twitter, they would find themselves with more than 366,000 followers. Employees should be encouraged to take advantage of their influence and display unique perspective behind-the-scenes, because this will ultimately make fans feel like they are a part of the show’s creation.
Mashable’s Max Knoblauch put it best when he said, “Social media, when done correctly, grants the audience more access, more transparency and a deeper connection to their favorite show.”