The 11th season of ABC's The Bachelorette premiered this week to the kind of social media fanfare normally reserved for a royal birth or a political scandal, though it could be argued that reality TV is both America's royalty and a scandal. In any case, for two nights, Twitter was aflutter with opinions, hot takes, takedowns, and live-tweets. Even brands and legitimate celebrities tweet along.
It got me thinking: how did The Bachelor do it? How did they manage to build and captivate a rabid social community? And what can social marketers learn from it?
What The Bachelor/ette Knows That Social Marketers Should:
- Always Be Innovating
The reason this season's premiere garnered so much attention was because the franchise did something they've never done before: they started the season with not one but two bachelorettes, and let the cast of men choose who they wanted to be the bachelorette through voting. In essence, the show turned the concept on its head and introduced a pageant element to what is otherwise a somewhat-tedious meet-and-greet process.
While this angered many fans (who already have a somewhat complicated relationship to feminism), it was a particularly clever move on the part of The Bachelor franchise, which, after 11 Bachelorette seasons and 19 Bachelor seasons, runs the risk of going stale.
Social marketing takeaway: Look at core elements of your brand and ask yourself if it's possible to innovate them in a way that would surprise and delight your audience. Or at least get them talking.
- It's All About Community
While I don't know for sure, I would bet good money that early on, someone at The Bachelor did a little social listening (perhaps even with a social media tool!) and found that there were legions of fans talking about the show on Twitter while they sat at home, drinking wine and hosting watching parties. Just as many fans make fun of the show as seriously engage with its premise, but no matter the sentiment, one thing is clear with Bachelor fans on Twitter: everyone's passionate.
I can imagine a lesser businesswoman brushing off the Twitter community that made light of their show, but instead, someone at The Bachelor decided to embrace it, and #BachelorNation was born. Fans were encouraged on the show to tweet along with the hashtag, and tweets, whether they were harsh or sweet, would scroll along the bottom of the screen. The show even changed its content a bit in response to the negative tweets. The editing style has loosened up and the writing has become more humorous. The show is indulging in camp a little bit more, flashing a cheeky smile at those who poked at it on Twitter.
Social marketing takeaway: All types of fans, whether expressing positive or negative sentiment, are an opportunity to cultivate community, and nothing creates more brand love than being part of a community. There might even be a nugget of constructive criticism in the negative comments, or at least a chance to engage in conversation.
- Make Your Audience Feel Special
Once #BachelorNation (or #BacheloretteNation) was fully formed and underway, the franchise made sure to tend to them. In addition to featuring their tweets on screen during the show, the fans actually got some say in who was to be the next bachelor or bachelorette. Those selections, previously made entirely by a producer, are now made by a producer with input from the best focus group around: Twitter. These days, the contestant is billed as the fan favorite, and the online community rallies around the new star they feel like they anointed.
Social marketing takeaway: Are there areas of flexibility in your organization where you can use input from your social community to make changes? Transparency goes a long way: if you get an idea from social, thank the community. They'll eat it up.
- Turn Your Assets into Influencers
Fans watch a Bachelor or Bachelorette run the gamut of emotions over the course of 8 weeks, and feel closer to them than they probably rightly should. They're a rare breed of reality star. They aren't vying for a cash prize or a new car, but ostensibly for someone's heart. These celebrities are compelling because they are supposedly 100% emotionally authentic. Because of that, all of them are very active on social media before, during, and after the season, with clear guidance and coaching from professionals at ABC. With their new influencer status, what could have been 15-minuutes of fame flameouts now have brand endorsement deals, which is good for ABC's relationship with advertisers.
The only bachelor who wasn't active on social (presumably because he refused) was Juan Pablo Galvais, whose disastrous season it seems like the show would like to erase from everyone's memory.
Fun fact: more of them have been turning to Snapchat to engage with the younger audiences. The latest Bachelorette has been leaning on Snapchat to share her publicity tour exhaustion and makeup tips.
Social marketing takeaway: What personalities exist in your organization that might translate well on social? How can you leverage those people for mutually beneficial relationships?
Those are my takeaways from a show that clearly captivates a strong community on social. What else do they do well? What other shows have surprisingly robust online communities? And finally, will you accept this rose?