‘ABC Family’ uses Social Media to Create Buzz

With a killer social media campaign, ABC Family has been able to create a social media whirlwind around its cutting-edge young adult drama, Pretty Little Liars, according to the LA Times. ABC has used the approach of Twitter and Facebook to draw viewers to the show.

With Facebook Fan Pages and Twitter hash tags, ABC was able to bring in 4.2 million viewers to a midseason premiere of the show. For the young network, this is a huge win. The show, based on a novel series by Sara Shepard, is in its first season and has managed to become the a top trend on the Web.

Using tactics such as streaming online video of Shepard answering questions from the show’s fan page and inviting series creator Marlene King to engage in a Twitter Q and A with fans, the show has created a strong and passionate following.

Although the 4.2 million viewers are no Super Bowl audience, the major win for ABC Family has been the strength of its social media contact. Pretty Little Liars’ midseason premiere managed to scoop up three of the top 10 spots in US Twitter trends and also a volcanic rating in Google Analytics.

The social media success of Pretty Little Liars has compelled the network to roll out social media campaigns for its other shows aimed at young, tech-savvy audiences like Greek and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I’m interested to see how the success of other shows’ social media campaigns will play out.

It’s hard to determine so early in the show’s lifespan how its approach via social media will propel it long term. Do you think its a coincidence that Pretty Little Liars has had such great social media success? Would a show that engages beyond its episodes on TV get you to watch? Does an overnight social media success mean long term viewership loyalty, or will the Twittering trend die out … along with the show? Like the drama itself, we will just have to wait until the next episode to find out what happens next.

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13 Responses to ‘ABC Family’ uses Social Media to Create Buzz

  1. afleisha says:

    Social media has provided fans an opportunity to continue to connect with a favorite television show between new episodes. Although ABC Family has had major success with using Facebook and Twitter, other networks have had equal success. A few years ago, One Tree Hill produced a series of podcasts by a character who made podcasts on the show. It was a great way to continue the connection to the show. With young audiences as a target demographic, ABC Family’s biggest challenge will be to stay current and move to where tweens congregate next, on some new social media platform.

    • cbustam1 says:

      Absolutely, Amy. I remember OTH doing that. It’s a great way to build that relationships with your viewer and brand, only your brand is a television series. I think social media is a great way to drive diehard fans to watch and engage, creating longterm success for the show.

  2. cfetter1 says:

    This is awesome. I love how ABC Family is reaching out to their target audience through the tools that they are immersed in! It’s seems like common sense to communicate through this medium, but I found that many other shows that cater to younger people don’t utilize social media to its full potential. I can only imagine that other networks will be playing catch up in hopes of achieving ABC’s success.

    • cbustam1 says:

      So true. Just like many businesses are just now getting involved in the social media game, I think many televisions shows will now see that they can get their audiences more involved as well. 🙂

    • ahkline1 says:

      Definitely a great point with age in mind. I think it’s great that this show is doing this. I think more shows that target teenage groups will show a rise in social media implementation.

  3. dbaxley says:

    In regards to whether the Twittering trend will die, only time will tell. I think that just like all other innovations within the world of social networking and online media, something better will always come along as internet gurus continue to push the envelope. However, I think any passionate audience will always search for new ways to connect and engage beyond the actual show. I applaud any television/movie producer or actor who looks for new ways to engage their audience. Twitter offers a great medium to do this, and at least for ABC Family, it seems to be paying off. Interesting post!

    • cbustam1 says:

      You’re right, if you have a great show/product, the passionate fans will come and definitely stay for the engagement social media provides!

  4. amgraha2 says:

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Pretty Little Liars had such a great turn out as far as social media success goes. I’ve never seen the show before, but if its target audience it a younger crowd who breathe, eat and sleep social media sites like Twitter, I’m not too surprised this tactic worked. To me, a show that engages beyond its episodes on TV would not get me to watch the show. In fact, I think it would work in the opposite way: I would engage beyond the show only after the show itself has me hooked. I think the social media campaign doesn’t necessarily promise long-term viewership, and I think Twitter will have its ups and downs as far as the success of the show goes. Overall, I think using social media to interact with viewers is most likely a method that can only help the show’s viewership loyalty.

    • cbustam1 says:

      Good point. It’s not enough to just have a show with a social media strategy. The product must be well worth it for viewers to engage and interact.

  5. tgierba says:

    The ability to communicate with the “show” directly is the key to loyal followship. The fact that ABC Family is able to reach their audience through social media is a brilliant strategy because the target audience for their shows is very involved in social media. Being a huge fan of Greek, I think it is a great feature to be able to speak with cast members, have reminders over Twitter and have the cast ask questions such as “What do you think of the party the KT’s threw?” really draws people in, even if they don’t already watch the show. That is the best way to attract new followship.

  6. nkumarat says:

    I think that the reason the social media campaign was so successful was because the target audience of Pretty Little Liars are people who are active on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t think the social media campaign would have attracted an older audience, or people would sign up for a Facebook and/or Twitter account just to connect with other Pretty Little Liars’ followers. I don’t think that the Twitter social media campaign will last because I feel like it is just a fad and the teenagers who follow the show will find something else new to talk about.

  7. ahkline1 says:

    I think the implementation of social media to coincide with the show is awesome. I think that the social media hits will continue and will help not only the popularity of the show but the degree of popularity. Social media and television are a match made in heaven where viewers can interact with one another and share their views. I don’t think the show depends on social media to be a success, but it might create a stronger following.

  8. mgingeri says:

    I don’t personally believe that the social media trend has much to do with the show’s success; it only creates more online buzz. The social media success directly correlates to the show’s target audience—teens and tweens. I personally would not watch a show because it engages its audience online, I would engage with the show’s online presence if I truly liked the show. I watch the show myself and the success of its Twitter followings is because the show is good television. It has suspense, action and love all in one. The suspense is especially good for the social media; it enables them to ask questions and get responses from their online followers. Bravo to ABC Family. In my opinion, this has to be the most watched show they have produced yet.

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