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[CASE STUDY] How Scandal Became One Of Social Media’s Most Popular Shows

by Team Caffeine · 0 comments

Guest post by Spencer Blohm.

Scandal TVABC’s hit drama series Scandal has become is one of the most popular TV shows on the air. The season three finale on April 17th pulled in 10.6 million viewers, up 16% from the previous year. Impressive numbers, especially for a show that started off as a midseason replacement, and that was almost cancelled after its first year.

Scandal is the show that Twitter saved. Had it not been for heavy engagement online during its first season, the show may have been axed after its originally ordered thirteen episodes. However, series creator Shonda Rhimes was savvy enough to get her whole cast on Twitter engaging with viewers, and before you knew it, Boom! ABC ordered nine more episodes for season two.

Scandal Twitter

As you can see from this graph by Topsy, on Thursday nights, #Scandal explodes on Twitter, and the night of the season three finale, #ScandalFinale was a trending topic in the U.S.

Some the most popular Tweets that night were from the show’s stars:

 

 

So, how has Scandal managed to gain an online presence so large that fans’ only option is to watch live – or run the risk of seeing spoilers online the next day? There are a few simple steps the show took to become number one on Twitter.

1. Constantly Engaging Fans

Series creator Shonda Rhimes has been a longtime Twitter force with 600,000 loyal followers. She consistently tweets out responses to her fans, as well as teasers of her work, inspirational quotes, and personal anecdotes which make her followers feel more like friends. Many members of Scandal’s cast joined Twitter after the show started and join Rhimes in talking to their fans about the show, posting pictures from the set, and keeping followers up to date on Scandal-related events.

2. Live Tweeting During Shows

Every cast member can be found live tweeting during the shows. These live tweet sessions have encouraged many of the fans to tune in and tweet along, creating a great online community during airings.

3. Promoting #Hashtags

The show’s social media team is constantly coming up with new hashtags for the cast members to use during the show, often based on memorable moments from that week’s episode. One of the most popular campaigns was #ScandalRecruitment, which encouraged Twitter members to watch the show – and it paid off, since the season three premiere generated about 724,000+ tweets, compared to the season two premiere, which only around 87,000 people tweeted about.

4. Keeping the Discussion Going

When the series is off the air, the cast members are naturally less active. But when they’re filming, they’re tweeting out pictures, videos, and little anecdotes to the fans to build excitement for the next season. Also, the cast and fan tweeting doesn’t stop after the show is over on Thursday nights; #ScandalHangover is a popular hashtag come Friday morning.

With so many different voices online, particularly in social media, it’s easy to get swallowed up. However, Scandal has shown that if you want to really build something out of social media, you’ve simply got to engage your fans and be authentic. It’s an approach that’s working not just for other shows, but for businesses and companies as well.

Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment and pop culture writer at DirectTelevisionSpecials.org. You can follow Spencer on Twitter here.

Lori R Taylor is the founder and executive editor of Social Caffeine. In 2009 she started her own direct response focused social media agency, REV Media Marketing LLC, coining the phrase given by her young son, “You bring the rain, we’ll make it pour.” Follow Lori on Twitter.

David Masters is our lead writer, idea spinner and super blogger. He’s British, and lives in Wales, but we don’t hold that against him. Follow David on Twitter.

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