Is This The Future Of Recommissioning?
Will people rather than the shows execs have the power to decide if a show is recommissioned in the future?
From writing letters into Points of View, to sending in boxes of doughnuts to save Twin Peaks, fans have often tried to persuade executives to save a show from cancellation. But with social media, I would argue that the balance of power is shifting ever more towards the fans. And the latest campaign to save the sci-fi show Fringe is worthy of discussion because it is indicative of what the future will look like.
Fringe has been struggling in the ratings stakes in the US recently. Now in series 4, Fox executives need to make a decision about whether to renew or cancel the show. They are currently undecided. So, the loyal fans of the show have launched a smart social media campaign in their battle to save it.
What’s clever about their campaign is the strategic way they are using hashtags.
They haven’t just asked fans to tweet a bland #fringe hashtag but are getting a new one each week to trend. And in a 5 week period it has racked up 100,000 tweets. Here’s a piece from the Wall Blog where they have encouraged fans to tweet about the show:“Choosing the right tag is a tricky business. Tweets containing more than one hashtag will not count toward trending but retweets of a single hashtag will. Because of the way the trending algorithm works, it needs to be a word or phrase that isn’t routinely discussed on Twitter. We can’t use #Fringe for example because it’s used all the time which severely hampers its chance at making the charts. Trends are identified through a combination of novelty and number and location of participants."
Fans have created hashtags for each episode. In episode 1 the hashtag #EnemyofMyEnemy was tweeted 21,421 times by 2,259 fans and it reached 633,967 people on twitter. Episode 5 did better with the tag #BeABetterMan getting 44,930 tweets from 19,890 contributors reaching over 8 million people!
This use of hashtags points to how shows should be using social media. Rather than use Twitter to organize and collect tweets around a #, this approach shows how Twitter can be used to acquire new fans. This is a great demonstration of people power and shows how audiences will start determining more directly which programmes get another season.
Can we expect to see more of this from fans in the future? What are the long-term implications for content producers? Let me know what you think - @clare_phillips
Clare Phillips, Head of Strategic Planning