Two weeks ago I gave my presentation on Social TV, specifically how it has impacted AMC. There was just so much information on this topic, so I wanted to further explain some of the insights I garnered from my research. My takeaways were:

1. Use Social Media to Find an Audience.

Finding an audience is about attracting new audience members as well as encouraging existing audience members to watch live. Every show has an online presence, whether it has mainstream success or is relegated to cult status. Just because a show doesn’t bring in huge viewing numbers doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a loyal fanbase that can be accessed through social media. It’s only a matter of finding where the existing audience is, and engaging them to watch episodes as they air. It’s also important to use social media to find new audience members. It’s a mistake to believe that if a show is good enough, the viewers will find it. It took viewers five years to find Breaking Bad, and viewers didn’t find Arrested Development until after it was cancelled.


2. Continue the Conversation.

One thing that has become obvious to me throughout the course of the class is that people seek engagement. Social media should be used as a forum for viewer engagement by continuing the conversation beyond the time a show is airing as well as during the show. The Walking Dead is particularly good at this through their social media campaigns and the Talking Dead, which airs directly after the episodes. Cast members live-tweet episodes and answer questions directly from fans with #TWDChat. AMC also uses #StorySync during episodes of The Walking Dead, where viewers can weigh-in on events as they are happening.




Story Sync

3. Continually Provide Content.twdinst

The day a new episode airs is no longer the only day viewers are watching. People are always catching up with shows, whether it’s through Netflix, DVR, or piracy. We now have so many viewing options that allow us to watch television when it’s most convenient for us. Networks need to provide content throughout the week, as well as during the off-seasons to engage the viewers who are catching up at different times. You never know when all of the conversations are happening, so networks need to post on social media constantly. AMC tweets throughout the week to encourage viewers to catch up with the latest episodes, and posts on instagram to increase anticipation for the next episode.

4. Tailor Social Strategy for Different Shows.

One of the biggest mistakes networks make with their social media strategies is not using the correct channels to engage their viewers. Despite appearances, social media doesn’t end at Twitter and Facebook. Shows that capitalize on shock value tend to do well on Twitter because those viewers love the immediacy of it. However, shows that move at a slower pace and are more cerebral (i.e. MadMen on AMC or Rectify on Sundance) do not have as much engagement on Twitter. Fan responses are analytical rather than reactionary, and fans are more engaged in blog-type formats than stream-of-thought formats.  

Downsides AKA Spoilers

Networks don’t tend to post spoilers from their official channels, but will use the threat of spoilers to encourage viewers to catch up with the latest episode. Spoilers are posted by fans, who aren’t regulated by the networks, and it’s not likely that this dynamic will change. Spoilers are the incentive to watch live, and telling fans not to post spoilers would be limiting their engagement by not allowing them to talk about what they just saw. At this point, the only surefire way to avoid spoilers is to watch live…sorry. Any effort to reduce spoilers would be like telling viewers that it doesn’t matter when they watch the show, which is not in the best interest of these networks.


The concern with spoilers is whether it will scare off potential audience members. However, I have my doubts that spoilers will really stop viewers from starting a new show. If you haven’t started a show yet and you encounter a spoiler, you won’t remember it by the time you start the show because the information is meaningless until you understand it in the  context of the show. I can talk about Game of Thrones in front of friends who haven’t seen the show because they don’t know the names of characters, so it doesn’t mean anything to them if they hear that one of the characters died.

Side Note: Let’s be real, with some exceptions, it’s probably our own fault if shows get spoiled for us. If I start a show, decide to google it halfway through watching it, and read that my favorite character is killed off in the next episode, then that’s my own fault. However, I do understand that sometimes we just can’t help it. So if one day your “friend” spoils a show for you, then you should probably just stop being friends with them.


  1. Thanks for sharing. I am a huge fan of both the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. My experience with spoilers is quite different from most people in that learning of them actually makes me want to see the episode more. I like to see how the plot unfolds for a character’s death. Last night, I did notice on Talking Dead, that Chris Hardwick started the show by stating “Spoiler Alert” and said something of the effect that if you haven’t seen tonight’s episode you should watch something else or view it after Talking Dead. To this end, I don’t think Spoilers will scare off potential audience. If anything, they pique our curiosity to know more. Both the Walking Dead and Talking dead are keeping viewers engaged even when announcing spoilers. In my estimation the engagement is not only on social media but also on TV. In regard to engaging the Walking Dead fans on social media AMC is making use of Twitter, Facebook, and its website. You may recall that you can see the last episode of the Walking Dead followed by the new episode, then view Talking Dead, and (re) watch the new episode on TV. Clearly AMC knows its audience and is catering to them via multiple channels. Nice post.

  2. Great post! From my perspective, I think the biggest thing social media does for TV fans is provide a community for people to discuss shows. After a controversial ending or finale, there is nothing better than going on Twitter to see what fellow loyalist are saying. I think one takeaway you mentioned that is vitally important is to continually provide content. A company can capitalize on a popular product, whether it is a TV show or movie, even after the screening is finished. For example, even thought the Harry Potter movies have been finished for quite some time now, fans still yearn more information and memorabilia about the movies because they have some a deep connection with the characters and story. Companies can capitalize on these connections to constantly make money off a show, whether or not it is currently in season. Continuing the conversation which also get viewers to form deeper connections with the shows by providing them with more informative content. Social media is an important way for shows to connect with the viewers outside the one hour a week an episode airs.

  3. Loved your presentation and this follow up post. Your insights make me think of how television shows are full-fledged products now, each with its own associated marketing strategy and target market. Instead of just broadcasting the show, shows have a longer lifetime and more robust marketing efforts that go beyond traditional ads and interviews into deep fan engagement tactics.

    I found this report that spoke to the “social TV” concept, it has some great other findings about changing TV consumption :)

  4. Nice follow up to your presentation

  5. I think the biggest threat to networks who are active on social media is accidentally releasing spoilers before the episode’s air. I remember last year AMC accidentally released a Walking Dead spoiler before the show even aired on the west coast. They deleted it quickly, but it was still seen by some fans who were extremely angry that the network could accidentally do this.

    One of the most recent widespread spoilers occured in July when the Masterchef accidentally revealed the final three contestants before the episode aired. Read the full story here:

    Ultimately, although TV networks usually schedule their posts, they can still be subject to human error when scheduling these posts. TV networks must be extremely careful on social media because one wrong post can result in hundreds of angry fans. In the case of Masterchef, many protested and did not watch that night’s episode. I’m glad you posted a blog post about this in followup to your presentation: I think Social TV is a tough job.

  6. I also did a blog post on social TV! Check it out: It’s remarkable how much television and social media have grown together. Anytime an analyst is introduced on ESPN, their Twitter handle is sure to appear next to their name on screen. Most mainstream shows are guaranteed to have a hashtag in the corner of the screen. Some shows make social media one of the core elements of production like @midnight. Spoilers of course is the obvious blemish on an otherwise fantastic relationship. With regards to Walking Dead, I remember last season when AMC posted an image on Facebook of a character who had recently been killed off the day AFTER the episode aired. They apologized profusely to their audience but the damage had been done. It will be interesting to see how the relationship between television and social media continues to evolve.

  7. Great post! I’m in the other section, but I’m sure your presentation was just as thorough as this post! I think the two points you made that interact with each other in the most positive way are- keeping the content going and building engagement and interaction among audience members. I like to see a live-tweeting event from a cast member of the shows I watch, but what is even better is the constant stream of conversation that follows. Thanks for the post!

  8. Nice post. I like your insight on ‘spoilers’ and how it encourages viewers to watch and engage during the live stream.

  9. Nice post, Arielle! Love the Arrested Development s/o at the beginning — SM helped get us to season 4 (whether or not that’s good or bad seems to be very much up to viewer discretion). Really appreciate the embedded tweets/posts in your write-up, great excerpts.

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