I’m working on the blog post for tonight’s episode of Scandal (and also trying to use the left over energy to twist my hair), but just to tide us over until I can get my thoughts together, here’s a look at my Gmail Social Media inbox on Scandal night… It gets pretty crazy. I never have this much social media interaction lol I love the discussion and humor that twitter brings to the Scandal party. It really makes watching fun (and sometimes hard), but gets people theorizing and sharing jokes. I love it.
I bet everyone’s mentions and social media interaction is going to skyrocket for the Winter Finale in 2 weeks. We’re not ready, I just know it.
If you recognize your twitter handle there, hi! I love tweeting with you on Shondaland Thursday!
Oh, looks like I just got another notification! lol
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.
“The thing that still is really completely out of whack is pilot season. I mean having gone through that and having six weeks from a green light to shooting the pilot, competing with 100 other shows for talent, it’s crazy. It just seems completely out of date in the current ecosphere of television.”
I definitely agree. And I think there needs to be more audience participation in pilot season. I get that some shows are dropped because of budget or actor reasons. But then come up with a bunch for each network that were greenlit, then get some more audience feedback. Put them on Hulu or Netflix or your network site. Give us more choices and start the buzz for each show even earlier. That way you’ll know before 2 episodes in in September that the show isn’t sitting with mass audiences. AND (reading the next but in the interview) you could advertise during all those pilots and people would watch them, sometimes more than once, to decide which ones they liked. Obviously that’s optimistic but they won’t know until they experiment with the model.
“They all watch it more than once. They watch it, and they live-tweet, and then the fans will watch it again and be like: I noticed this other thing.”
Yes, this is definitely true. People will watch your show more than once if they really enjoy it and that’s always good. Some writers dumb down their stories for the audience but if you raise the LCD and put smart stuff in your shows (great lines, little moments between characters, background events and easter eggs) and people rewatch a show, they’ll pick up more, they’ll pay closer next time and they’ll watch more than once. They might even watch it again on television on Hulu, where you can get some ad money from it.
“A show is much more like jazz than it is a symphony. It’s call and response, responding to what’s happening in front of you.”
“You can have a plan, but you have to be open and flexible to making that plan better if an idea evolves, or if you find yourself with an opportunity that if you don’t seize, you’re going to regret it.”
“Q: But, as he says, the writers will often put characters in a jam with no idea of how to get out of it. How close to his reality is yours?”
I love how Carlton Cuse (Co-exec on Lost) didn’t weigh in [in this excerpt] on this question. Because EVERYONE knows that that was how Lost operated. A lot of times to disastrous, unsatisfying results.
“We’ll have things planned, it’s just inevitably those plans get yanked away.”
That’s true and something we as audience members must keep in mind. It’s also important when thinking of specs, because you can’t write a guest in to a script because the idea is to act like it’s gonna be produced and you don’t know whether that actor will be available.
“The water cooler moment, what is that really? At its core, it’s people having a reason to have a conversation about a shared experience, but there’s a lot of ways to have a shared experience. That can be live-tweeting. That can be people that have binge-watched a season of something and told their friend, “You have to binge-watch it, so we can talk about it.” Then they have a conversation two weeks later that’s about an entire season. I just think the water cooler is expanding in concentric circles to allow for more experiences.”
Check out this NY Times article. I’ll be liveblogging/posting some quotes and my thoughts in the following posts.