Our spring intern Molly Ross shares her thoughts on what made True Detective a hit in the world of social media.
True Detective, a new HBO original series, has taken the country by storm, attracting more than 10.9 million weekly viewers in the first season. This phenomenon isn’t just a result of the show’s well-written, intense, intriguing plot. The clutter-breaking social media efforts behind the show are highly responsible for building buzz and driving viewership. Unlike many other shows, True Detective has a dedicated Twitter account with more than 12,000 followers; an Instagram feed boasting more than 21,000 followers; and 777,000 likes on Facebook. With this kind of interaction, we wanted to take a closer look at what makes True Detective’s social media campaign so successful.
Prior to the debut of the series, the advertising efforts around True Detective began in a traditional way. To kick off the season, HBO utilized prominent digital advertisements including a homepage banner ad on NYTimes.com. However, what truly kept viewers engaged was happening behind the scenes on social media. HBO’s strategically developed episode-specific hashtags left ambiguity out of the equation. According to an article on Clickz.com, this technique made it easy for viewers to “find posts related to each new episode, as they could follow conversations linked to tags like #TheSecretFateOfAllLife and #WhoGoesThere, and know exactly where episode-specific discussions were taking place.” These strategic hashtags drove conversations around sharing ideas and theories fans may have about each episode as well as predictions for the following week’s show.
It was a given that fans would hashtag True Detective on their own, but the creativity and strategy employed in this unique social media campaign is what kept fans talking. The True Detective hashtags streamed across all major social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram opening the possibility for conversation via social media on specific episodes. In this era of online viewing, viewers do not have to watch a TV episode on the original air-date. With on-demand services such as HBO GO, fans can catch up on their favorite TV shows on their own time, making avoiding spoiler alerts key. HBO’s episode-specific hashtag tactic made it easy for fans to steer of spoilers or get a sneak peak prior to viewing. This tactic was especially handy when HBO GO crashed due to the overwhelmingly popular demand to watch the season finale of True Detective because fans could still use social media to discuss the show while avoiding the live finale hashtag.
With the statistics to prove it, HBO’s True Detective social media strategy got it right. The season finale, airing March 9, was the third most-tweeted show of the week, following The Walking Dead and Pretty Little Liars, according to Nielsen’s SocialGuide.
Takeaway: To break away from the pack, it is important to create social media hashtags that are specific to whatever it is that you are trying to promote in order to best encourage a high level of interactivity. This allows your audience the opportunity to pick and choose the content they want to consume. In return, consumers will use your brand name on their own social media channels, keeping your company’s name active in conversation.
If you are looking for creative ways to promote your social media efforts, give us a call!