Social Media and Soaps
We use social media for everything. Every type of brand and every kind of media uses social media to talk to their fans. As a fan, I enjoy having that open channel to talk to others about my favorite products, television shows, and books. It has its ups and downs, but it isn’t going away anytime soon. Obviously.
Soaps use social media to get fans talking about what they like, what they don’t like and everything in-between. As an American, I know how the American soaps run their twitter accounts. It is a completely different experience than how British soaps run their social media. For instance, ITV and Emmerdale. After taking a long time looking at their main social media, I noticed while the network knows how to use certain social media channels it struggles with some others.
I look at how ITV’s Emmerdale uses social media and what works and what doesn’t.
Read on if you want to hear more!
How Emmerdale Uses Social Media
Emmerdale has a Twitter, Instagram and Facebook page. They use Twitter to talk to viewers, Instagram to show off behind the scenes or spoiler pictures and the Facebook is the original place for discussion of the episodes.
Twitter seems to be their newest venture. They seem to mostly use it during live episodes and on the weekends to ask questions about characters and where we stand on certain storylines (that either ends up being interesting to read through or a firestorm).
Instagram is used to show behind the scenes photos, future and past character profiles and different parts of the village to start conversations.
Facebook is their original social media page. They have focused episode recaps, polls, questions and spoilers for the week ahead.
If there is a big event coming (such as SSW), all the account start to work together to promote it.
Seeing as I must infer a lot about corporate strategy and how ITV structures their corporation, I must say that Twitter seems to be the shows weak spot for me.
I assume there is a small group of people (possibly floating interns named LEON) that runs the Emmerdale and Coronation Street accounts. I assume this because I haven’t seen a press release where ITV announcing they are using an agency to run the social media. For soaps, it seems to be in-house and through the marketing department. Like most organizations, ITV farmed out their social media work to an advertising agency, Something’ Else. I assume this because in the Social Media Compliance Manual (it will be linked below) all content and all consent for fourth wall breaking must go through the marketing department head before posting.
With that said and inferred, Twitter seems to be the hardest to keep up with for the small team. Which is understandable. Twitter is a rough social media channel to use. Not only do you have to keep the account updated, keep a consistent tone, one has to answer angry/happy/questioning fans, and start a dialogue about the different issues being addressed on the show. This can be rough with a soap this popular and this wide-reaching. The fans are dedicated and excitable which can lead to unwanted conversations and angry responses. I’m assuming different people are running the account day to day, the conversations can go different ways. That ends up confusing people and causing unneeded anger.
This is because of tone issues and lack of consistency.
I think if they kept up one tone on twitter people could connect better to the account. I find it uneven especially when it’s time for the episode to air. You can tell they set up the content cards in advance to match the episode. It becomes cold and emotionless. You can tell a program such as Hootsuite is being used. Sometimes after the episode is over someone comes on to talk to the fans. Sometimes it can be fun or can be a disaster. Something to note, I can sometimes pick out when it is different people. This might be in my head, but I see it. There is someone on the team that is full of puns, one likes to use slang words, and there is one that likes to use gifs as reactions. I can pin point each person’s voice. That’s not good unless it’s been established that there are multiple people on the account. They would usually notate who it is talking when that happens. This account doesn’t.
This leads me to the other problem with their twitter account.
Consistency. Social media needs consistency, especially in tone and content. This is where a social media calendar comes into play (which I think they don’t have set up for Twitter content). Fans enjoy a good surprise or two, or usually, they thrive on social media when there is consistency. One expects to see a new episode of their favorite television show at its scheduled time, right? Well, that applies to social media as well. People come to expect certain features or content to appear at its scheduled time. The Emmerdale Twitter account is muddled, and it throws anything up whenever they feel like it. The only time the account shows consistency is when the show is on, and that is scheduled. The content cards come up when they should be trying to start a conversation that the channel never replies too. That happens for the 30 or 60 minutes the show is on, but after that, the account goes back into chaos.
Same applies to the “Wish Wednesdays” and “Unlock Content” series. The joke online when “Wish Wednesdays” show up is it must be award season! The “Unlock Content” series can randomly appear and disappear depending on what is happening on the show. Either do it every day or pick one day and make it “Quick Spoilers” day. People would be more excited about it if they knew it was appearing. Also, “Wish Wednesdays” can only show up around awards season, that is fine, but the show needs to stop randomly bringing it up when fans are upset. It doesn’t seem to work.
Twitter is a rough social media channel to run. It takes a lot of trial and error and creative thinking to keep fans interested. That might be too much for the small group of floating social media managers to accomplish. That isn’t their fault. A lot of networks, like ITV, still don’t understand the power of social media and how fans today are savvy enough to know when something isn’t working.
I enjoy their Facebook and Instagram account (for the sake of this writing I’m leaving out the YouTube page because that is another entry altogether).
The Facebook page is run well. It is clean. I see consistency, and something fans can count on to talk about the show. Their Facebook page is easier to monitor or use their “Take Down Policy” (another policy that applies to all their social media but only put into full practice by the Facebook account). When I go there, I expect to see the episode round up and the comments from the general audience. It isn’t exciting, but it is clean and isn’t muddled in its messages.
The Instagram page gives fans a fun inside look into the show and the actors that bring our favorite characters to life. You can see the break between weeks easily because the show uses a piece of the village to signal a new week. Which is smart. I noticed it likes to use its “Unlock Content” series here, but it isn’t overused. I enjoy it for its simplicity, and the fans are generally quieter there. I believe people are there for the cute pictures rather than to argue about storylines or characters. It is easier to create content for that social media channel than the others.
Why did I actually look at Emmerdale’s social media? I am someone who uses social media to keep up with this wonderful, maddening, crazy show. As an American, I’m usually left behind on a lot of information, so I rely on social media to keep me informed. This includes all the official Emmerdale accounts. I have noticed their shortcomings when it gets harder to keep up. I am also a big fat nerd about social media and how a dated form of storytelling (soap operas) keeps up with the times. I can see Emmerdale is beloved and I think their social media should reflect that. They will get the Twitter account right. It will just take some time.
Recently, the storyliners did a Q&A on Instagram. Here is what they did wrong this time:
1) Wrong platform. What they should have done was ask for questions on Instagram and then filmed a video of the storyliners answering them. If they wanted it to be purely text, they should have done it on twitter or even set up a reddit for this type of Q&A. (The reddit choice might not be for them though)
2) They should have put stipulations on the questions. As someone who writes I would have loved to see more about story structure, how the process works and if they ever had to do any quick rewrites and how does that work? While that is in there, the Q&A is muddled with plot questions or angry, crazy Robron fans that make us all look so bad. *eek*
3) I wrote about their social media management and how it feels all wrong. I see it again, and I am dying to see how they plan this out and if there is a team. If its one person like I’ve been told, oh it shows. Social media for this type of medium needs a team. b
After all these months the social media is still messy. There seems to be no strategy involved. I think, looking in from the outside knowing very limited information, the person running the social media/digital is overwhelmed. This is why people need teams. At least three other people to figure out strategy, building the schedule and making sure execution is flawless. I know most companies refuse or don’t understand how social works or its importance in this type of industry. ITV is trying, but they are doing it all wrong.