Viacom’s audiences have been multi-screening for years with SMS and IM; so what we’re seeing now is more like ‘hyper multi-screening’; fans are using connected devices such as smartphones, tablets and PCs to access social networking sites, in order to communicate and share links whilst watching linear TV and interact directly with cast members and celebrities.

This provides huge opportunity for media owners & broadcasters. Engaging with fans on social media not only helps grow and retain audiences; importantly it can also create a buzz around a new show before shows have even premiered. Nowadays, 83% of people do not know what they want to watch when they turn on their TV. As such, search and recommendation is key, meaning there is huge potential to capture and grow an audience, but only if they are aware of the show.

Geordie Shore is a great example of how social media helped to create and grow an audience. This British spin-off Jersey Shore is now MTV UK’s most successful show ever, with the season premiere generating MTV UK’s largest adult audience in three years. We attribute this success to the multiplatform strategy that surrounded the launch, particularly the social media buzz generated ahead of airing. Here are a few indicators of its success:

  • Ahead of the season premiere, levels of engagement were extremely high. Today, the official show page on Facebook continues to grow with 3,294,556 post views to date. Content on the Facebook page includes a regular ‘Geordie of the Week’ feature, a Geordie phrasebook and videos from Geordies who believed they should have been in the show.
  • Another platform that contributed to generating an online fan base pre-show launch was Twitter. ‘Geordie Shore’ trended on Twitter worldwide when the cast was revealed in April 2011, helping to raise awareness of the show and trigger interest. Each member of the eight-strong cast has their own Twitter account and are actively interacting with fans – all reaching between 2,500 – 3,500 followers ahead of the launch.
  • The #geordieshore hashtag was featured in 25% of all tweets sent in the UK on the launch night, again helping to generate a buzz and drive fans to our linear channel. This kind of buzz can also help to drive digital sales through downloads.
  • The cast tweeted live during each show and continued to interact with fans afterwards, with Charlotte becoming the first cast member to reach 100,000 followers in August. Four months after the launch of the show, the number of followers for MTV’s official Twitter profile (@MTVGeordieShore) is currently 30,384 and the official Facebook page has 265,439 fans.


Another key learning for us was that it’s imperative that activity and interaction with a show’s audience continues via social media networks inbetween one series finishing, specials being aired, and a new series beginning. This ensures that fans remain engaged with the brand, helping to increase audience retention and also provides the opportunity to attract new fans.

With the amount of digital content becoming more readily available to viewers across more platforms than ever before, it is essential that media owners & broadcasters harness the power and influence of social media to raise awareness of a show or series to ensure success and help create an audience. The more excitement and interest that can be created around a show before it is aired the better.

It is critical that broadcasters have a multiplatform strategy around all content to ensure they are where their audience and potential new fans are discovering content. Creating social media assets ahead of a show being broadcast helps to build excitement and interest around the launch and also creates a level of loyalty and engagement essential for building an audience.

Philip O’Ferrall is Senior Vice President, Digital at Viacom International Media Networks. He speaks on MIPCOM’s Content Discovery: Find your path to Business panel October 4, 10.45.  He also discussed 2Screen TV viewing on MIPBlog here

About Author

As Head of Social Media for Reed MIDEM, James Martin oversees social strategy and deployment for B2B events MIPTV and MIPCOM, Midem (music industry) and MIPIM & MAPIC (real estate & retail). He is based in Reed MIDEM's Paris office.

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