Fall premieres: how Sleepy Hollow became FOX’s early social hit of the season

Thursday, 26 September 2013

It’s the most important month in television, when the new seasons of original and returning shows launch their premieres to the praise or pans of fans and critics hungry for the next addictive hit. Increasingly, people are turning to Twitter to share their opinions on the fall TV lineup, and shows are using Twitter to engage directly with those fans.

For @FoxTV, the season saw an early breakout hit with Sleepy Hollow (@SleepyHollowFox), a show based on a Washington Irving horror story. The program has had a strong start, collecting the most Tweets per minute of any of the shows in FOX’s fall lineup with its #SleepyHollow hashtag. It also did well in the ratings. FOX created hashtags for all of its new shows, including #NewGirl, #TheMindyProject, #Brooklyn99, #Dads, and #Bones.

The success of Sleepy Hollow was the result of a comprehensive Twitter strategy, which included tweeting a preview of the show, engaging with fans and giving them a glimpse behind the scenes with the cast. Here are the key elements:

Spark a conversation
Fans were asked to tweet their favorite moments:

The actors joined the conversation too:

And the fans responded by talking frequently about the stars of the show:

Engage with fans between episodes
@SleepyHollowFOX shared behind-the-scenes photos between episodes:

Host a Twitter Q&A
The show’s actors and crew participated in a Twitter Q&A at the end of the first week.

Staff writer Aaron Baiers (@abaiers) notes that there are more Twitter Q&As coming:

Promoting one hashtag helped keep the conversation going too. According to SocialGuide, 65% of all Tweets about the show used the #SleepyHollow hashtag.

The best of the rest
While Sleepy Hollow was the clear leader for FOX, every show in its fall lineup employed a consistent social media strategy:

  • each show’s official hashtag was prominently displayed in the bottom right corner of the screen each week
  • shows offered viewers a customized experience, often replying directly to their Tweets and sharing photos
  • Twitter was used to post previews, video clips of upcoming episodes and photos behind the scenes — and to converse directly with viewers

Live-tweet during the show
#Brooklyn99, a comedy about a New York detective, had lead actor @TerryCrews live-tweet the first episode:

Create custom content for fans
The show also created customized content to connect with individual fans:

The same strategy was also used by #NewGirl. Fans became part of the experience:

Engage with individual fans
@NewGirlonFox also engaged directly with fans, replying and goofing around

Actress @HannahSimone also tweeted pictures of fans watching the show:

Engaging directly with fans was also the strategy behind #Dads:

The Mindy Project, @MindyKaling’s comedy about a single doctor’s work and love life, sent tweets from Mindy as well as from @MindyProjectFox with previews of upcoming episodes.

When Kaling’s character told her fiance they should shoot a Vine video of the moment of their engagement, it was tweeted moments later.

 Do you know of any other innovative uses of Twitter? Contact us at [email protected].