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Engrossing TV Shows Influenced by Social Media

Updated on December 11, 2019
Kenna McHugh profile image

I've written, contributed to books on film, and worked in the film industry. I like to share insights into the movie-making business.

Social Media or Popular Series

Some TV shows promote themselves well on social media. They rank so well because the shows are worthy or because their social media campaigns are brilliant. It's the chicken versus the egg theory.

What came first, a well-produced show to comment about on social media or a popular book promoted on social media as an upcoming TV show. I speculate in the following article that the show needs to be high-ranking to draw major trends on social media. Though, there is one show called Outlander that was super popular before its premiere. It is another way for fans to enjoy their favorite show.


Outlander airs on Starz and is an example of social media supporting both sides of the spectrum with the many apps of social media. Both leads, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, are on Twitter and Instagram almost daily, plugging Outlander or their other products and movie. Facebook has several dedicated pages to the Scottish themed show. Heughan's Heughligans and the author, Gabaldon, sponsors a Facebook page.

Starz sponsored several Twitter and Facebook campaigns. Heughan and Balfe answered Twitter questions via video that played on Facebook. The campaign was such a success that Starz continued using the Q & A theme with other cast members, including Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton.

My Peak Challenge

Sam Heughan talks in this video about receiving his honorary doctorate from the University of Stirling in Scotland. He mentions his online charity with over12,000 members, raising over $4 million - A solid example of using social media to promote his charity.

Ellen DeGeneres Hosts the Academy Awards

The Rolling Stone Magazine reported the early ratings of the 2014 Academy Awards, which Ellen Degeneres hosted, the viewership was at an all-time 10-year high. The magazine gave credit to DeGeneres’s activity on social media sharing her funny acts.

Like when she took several selfies with celebrities, the star-studded one, which is posted below, earned over 2.8 million retweets and is probably still popular.

The show garnered 43 million viewers. The last time such a feat cracked occurred in 2004 with Billy Crystal as the host.

DeGeneres draws the viewers on her own, no doubt, but her antics with the social media topped the charts.


"Stranger Things"

In a Variety interview with Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown, both actresses talked about tweeting their show, Stranger Things. Only Brown understood the technology of promoting a TV show on social media. Ryder's fascination manifested awe about Brown's knowledge.

Ryder needs not to worry because Netflix developed their own social media campaign for the hit show. The purpose of the campaign to sure fans knew when the series went live on Netflix.

They hit all the popular social networks, including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The campaign included plot tease and clips from the show.

What do you think?

Which Social Media Do You Use the Most?

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"Games of Thrones"

HBO's Games of Thrones' social media hype was a late bloomer. The finale season marked the best use of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Working with 360i, HBO continued the awareness for the season finale and even banked on the audience feedback to promote the hypertheoretical spin-offs.

The week prior and week after the final episode, we saw #GOT for an upcoming season of GOT. It worked so well that even those who didn't watch the series posted how they have nor ever well watch #GOT.

Spin-off rumors continue to pop up on Facebook and Twitter. We can only imagine what it would be like to have a GOT spin-off.

"Orange is the New Black"

Netflix's Orange Is the New Black used social media to show behind the scenes antics. Some say the marketing department does it like no other show. The award-winning show large casts offer many options for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The popular hashtag is #OITNB, and their Facebook Page posts about the final season kept fans raving about the popular show.

"The Walking Dead" and "Fear The Walking Dead"

The Walking Dead (#TWD) is the show posted the most on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. A fanbase of over 40 million speaks for itself.

Fear Stories

The spin-off Fear The Walking Dead (#FTWD) released with a brilliant social media campaign called with called "Fear Stories."

"Pretty Little Liars"

Pretty Little Liars trended well with Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The award-winning series followed four friends band against an anonymous enemy, and the mystery person threatens to expose their darkest secrets.
The social media campaign worked overtime to keep the fans coming back for more.

The show's final season in 2017 ranked higher than season six, and the social media surged with #littleliars. The success reinforced Freeform, a Disney based cable channel, spin-off, called The Perfectionist bringing back some of the main characters -- #PLLThePerfectionist.


Empire launched Taraji P. Henson's career, and the show is trending even today with the final, sixth season. The show is about a hip-hop company three sons are fighting over while the ex-wife connives to reclaim what she feels is hers.

Fox marketing went all out and invested in Twitter. The social media campaign paid off. The show ranked on Nielsen’s 2016 list of Twitter MVPs -- averaging 387,000 Tweets per episode. The social media campaigns consisted of inviting viewers to Tweet their questions to @EmpireFOX, and star Taraji P. Henson will answer the questions via video.

Another campaign had fans tweeting #FOXWednesdays, adding a cookie emoji (Henson’s character's first name is Cookie Lyon). Once they twitted, they became eligible to win some treats. The cookie theme continued using different kinds of cookie themes.

Social Media and TV Shows

Episodic TV shows will continue to use social media as a send all to promoting the next and latest occurrence of each episode. How the marketing departments spin each campaign, whether unique or not, is what fans look forward to seeing. It is a whole new way to enjoy episodic television while waiting for the next episode and speculating.

© 2011 Kenna McHugh


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