Twitter Smarts: What Brands Can Learn From the TV Show Scandal

Posted on February 25th 2013

Twitter Smarts: What Brands Can Learn From the TV Show Scandal

ABC Scandal twitter strategyLike many others around the country, I’m absolutely addicted to the television show Scandal. The ABC program featuring Kerry Washington as doe-eyed political fixer Olivia Pope has more twists and turns than any daytime soap opera (they still have those, don’t they?). That alone would make it compulsively watchable, but the team behind the show has used Twitter to drive buzz for the show in a way that is really extraordinary. The hashtags #Scandal and #AskScandal top the list of Twitter trending stories every Thursday night. Last week ABC promoted the show as the “most tweeted-about show on Thursday nights” after the February 7th show generated over 350,000 tweets.

How did Scandal get so popular and what can lessons can brands learn from this show?

Get your rock stars involved: The Scandal cast is active on Twitter, especially on Thursday nights
but also throughout the week. They tweet behind the scenes photos, tease potential plot twists, and
generally seem as engaged in the show as the viewers are. Their enthusiasm is contagious. Other shows have gotten some lift by having the characters themselves interact as Twitter characters but Scandal has taken the approach of having the actors be actors playing characters they love. The show’s actors weren’t all on Twitter before the show but they are now and the interplay between them on Twitter is part of the fun and adds to the experience of the show.

Some of your best rock stars might be behind the scenes: Sure we love to Tweet at stars and have
them Tweet back but no television show (and no company) is just about the faces out in front. For
fans of the makeup looks on Kerry Washington during the show, there is @scandalmakeup, an account dedicated to the show’s makeup featuring advice from its beauty team. That Twitter account has over 4,000 followers; it’s not a movie star number but still impressive. So while you want your main account, your CEOs and public faces out there and tweeting, don’t forget the other resources you have. They can add real authenticity and roundness to your social presence, especially when there is solid interaction between your stars and your behind-the-scenes folks.

Have fun with hashtags: While the main flagship hashtags of #Scandal and #AskScandal are always
in play, the show has also promoted hashtags that play on the characters’ names and what may be
happening in the show at the time. Tags such as #holyfitz, #freehuck, #whoshotfitz have all been widely adopted by the fan base because they allow the fans to easily share shock at a plot twist or support for the characters.

Don’t leave part of your audience out: Part of the risk of live-Tweeting a television show is spoiling it
for viewers. While spoilers abound on the #Scandal feed, the stars still reach out to West Coast viewers, reviving the conversation a full three hours later. And the main Twitter account keeps the conversation going all week long. It’s a good strategy for live events and also a reminder that bursts and live tweet chats are fun but content on a regular basis is also important.

Love your fans: This is a no-brainer and you see this on every social media list but it can’t be said
enough. Respect their engagement in your product, play with them and interact with them. And overall,
keep serving them more of what they love because social media is only ever as good as the product it supports.

Deidre Woollard

Deidre Woollard

Deidre Woollard has written for AOL.com, HuffingtonPost.com, Realtor.com, JustLuxe.com, Pursuitist.com and more. She teaches in the University of California Irvine Extension Digital Journalism Program.

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