Brand owners and service suppliers: sit up and take notice. ITV has just charted new territory by putting on a master class in how to use social media to build engagement in its programming and in doing so they go a long way to trashing sceptics’ arguments, which are fixated on the ROI debate.
ITV is the United Kingdom’s oldest independent TV station (est. 1955); in addition to buying and broadcasting shows, it also commissions its own material. In recent years ITV has been applauded for producing the highly acclaimed Downton Abbey and Britain’s Got Talent.
Eight weeks ago we were introduced to Broadchurch, a modern ‘whodunit’ drama based in a Dorset coastal village. The drama traces the hunt for the killer of schoolboy Danny Latimer, led by two detectives. Monday night TV will not be the same again. ITV drew in 9.2m+ viewers last night (33.5% of all viewers) – figures not seen since the nation was left asking ‘Who shot JR?’ It has been suggested that just 29 people knew how it would end and that cast members, crew and production teams had been kept in the dark. Its appeal has generated an estimated £15m in additional advertising revenue and has guaranteed the show international success. The seaside resort where it was filmed has been inundated with visitors flocking to enjoy its charm.
Feedback professionals are fans of the show and we applaud the broadcasters flawless use of social media to build engagement. ITV used social media to involve viewers in the story. The content released was carefully crafted to help build the story, and the timing of announcements helped contribute to the tension.
- Super fan Becca Overton set up the unofficial fan page to run quizzes, competitions, chats and polls – which the programme’s makers Kudos Productions were very supportive of
- Final episode credits contained an invitation to see an exclusive additional scene on Facebook / YouTube clocking up an instant 255,000 views immediately afterwards
- #broadchurch spent the day trending on twitter with the cast making contributions and announcing the commissioning of a second series
There are many lessons in this case study. The biggest though has to be that ITV understood the fit between the ‘whodunit’ format and social media. People were able to expand on theories, share filming locations and even place bets. The proximity of viewers to the show and its stars was closer than anything we have ever experienced insuring everyone’s investment had a payback.
If you didn’t see it, you had best check it out on ITV on demand or wait for it to come to your screens wherever you are and have your tablets/smartphones to hand so you too can participate.