First: Click here and skim Why Is ‘Sleepy Hollow’ A Hit? – Forbes, though I basically summarize it below.
Here are some reasons the Forbes gives for the success of my favorite new show of the season, Sleepy Hollow and some counterarguments.
1. “Choosing a young person, Emily Murray, as ‘Social Media Producer.'”
2. “Using Facebook and Twitter” (duh? What else would you use?), or I guess the point is knowing where your fans are hanging out (which is an excellent point–Castle, Doctor Who, and Supernatural fans rule Tumblr, Scandal and Sleepy Hollow are Twitter hits, no one is really using Facebook for this kind of thing).
3. “Collaborating internally.” I guess this means having the social media team and creatives and marketing people all work together to have gifs and images ready for the twitter experience; all of that requires multiple departments to work with the social media guys.
4. Focusing on the product, not the company.” or I guess, creating a community around the show not the network, but this is what every show does. Every show has a twitter account and makes it about the show. This isn’t a special thing Sleepy Hollow is doing.
5. Getting the actors to tweet. Yes, this is a huge helping, which they learned from shows like Scandal. Get everyone on board and people will retweet behind the scenes info or Orlando Jones being a hilarious doofball mentioning fanfiction and gifs in his tweets.
6. The twitter account having a back and forth “fight” with the twitter account from rival network show Elementary. Yes, this was funny to see and contributed to word of mouth.
But the article, which is definitely tech/social media focused, didn’t at all think about the show or the fans it draws. Other shows do these very same things. They have show specific twitter accounts. They try to get their actors to live tweet. They have the marketing department draw up designs and posters that work with their live tweeting efforts. These aren’t the only factors.
The audience is a major factor, and who is in Sleepy Hollow‘s audience? The same kinds of people who are in Scandal’s audience. Young black (females mostly, but some males who reluctantly admit they watch either or both shows) people (what these young people call Black Twitter). The media hasn’t yet caught on that young African-Americans LOVE Twitter. And if you give us a show with a black lead, we will watch that show (because we don’t have many options with that factor, so we watch the ones that do until there are more options). And we will tweet about it to our other African-American friends on Twitter. And shows like Sleepy Hollow and Scandal, both with a black female lead, will skyrocket to the top of the tv ratings and social media discussion charts. Oh, but we don’t talk about this being a factor, do we? Nor do we discuss the fact that the person doing the most tweeting and connecting with the fans is Orlando Jones, a person of color. These things are certainly important.
Other shows have tried to mimic the formula of Scandal. They’ve done the same social media things that Sleepy Hollow is doing. And yet they’re not ratings phenomena. All because the networks and media coverage are hesitant to acknowledge the real reason these shows are blowing up: because people want to see diversity on their TV screens. They are more likely to tune in. They are more likely to tell their black/asian/hispanic/white/etc friends about it. And then the show get super popular and gets renewed for the next season 4 episodes in, like Sleepy Hollow did.
Don’t let social media take all the credit for this show’s success. I know that’s what the article was about, but in a discussion about social media, you should discuss the people who use social media, and their various idiosyncrasies. That’s the real way of understanding how to use it and what platforms are best.
I think that the reason it is not mentioned because acknowledging it would mean that Blacks and people of color have the “power” to generate success in popular media. This notion of course should have been already well established by the revolution of popular entertainment by Chuck Berry, Motown, Oprah, Whitney, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Nat King Cole, Bojangles, Louis Armstrong, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Josephine Baker and the Global phenomenon that is, was and will always be Micheal Jackson. We as people of color have been the corner stone of all that is cutting edge pop culture in the United States and abroad but the narritive has always been that its Elvis not Little Richard, its the Beatles not Otis Redding, its Britney Spears not Beyonce. So now “they” tell us that Justine Tiberlake does not need Jayz its Jay z who needs Justin. Or that the produces and dancers that surrond and sometimes defend Miley Cyrus are the beneficiaries of her generosity and beats and not the other way around. People of color are the stars and the power behind the sudden success but can never be acknowledge and that is why “Black Twitter” was ignored and will remain ignored until we say something about it and then they will report on our commentary and then will summarily dissmiss it.