TV Land Bolsters 'Younger' Engagement Through Social Media

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How a marketing campaign kept the television show in the conversation

Sutton Foster (Image courtesy The Huntington)
Sutton Foster (Image courtesy The Huntington)

In an age with over 1,500 television stations and hundreds of streaming websites, media companies are finding it harder and harder to garner a reliable audience. What is the best way to grab their attention? And once you have their attention, how do you keep them interested?

As TV Land found out, the most effective way to learn about your audience is to engage with them directly.

TV Land Gets Younger

On March 31, 2015, TV Land premiered Younger, an American single-camera comedy-drama television series based on the Pamela Redmond Satran novel of the same name, created and produced by Darren Star.

The series was widely praised by critics, receiving an impressive 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. While the show was not a breakout in the traditional ratings sense, debuting with 504,000 viewers, TV Land renewed Younger for a second season only four episodes into its freshman run.

“Our goal from season one to season two was to build on the audience through holistic campaigns,” said Kristin Mirek, senior vice president of social and digital at TV Land. “When launching these campaigns, we like to go out with a big media plan – television ads, print ads, video clips, social media.”

The campaigns for season two, which premiered on Jan. 13, 2016, focused on the video clips and stars of the show: Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff, Debi Mazar, Miriam Shor, Nico Tortorella, Peter Hermann and Molly Bernard.  

“Some actors on the show were recognizable to the public, like Hilary Duff from her time on Disney, and we built campaigns and ads around her character to give the people the message that she was back on television,” Mirek said. “We also disseminated small video clips of season one to share on social media networks.”

The response to the campaigns were a resounding success. Compared to the season one average, Younger finished season two up 64 percent in adults 18-49, and 70 percent in adults 25-54, according to Variety. The March 23 season finale, which featured a shocking death, and an unexpected kiss, averaged 1.30 million viewers, including 676,000 adults 18-49, according to Nielsen’s live+3 estimates.

Considering the viewership, Younger was renewed for a third season in June, providing validation to TV Land’s marketing efforts, while presenting the biggest challenge of the show’s history – how to keep and grow an audience for a following season during the autumn broadcast premiers and the 2016 Presidential election debates.

In an effort to tackle the obstacles, TV Land partnered with Adaptly, an advertising technology and services company that enables brands to advertise on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Snapchat.

Adaptly Navigating Social Media

The third season for Younger was scheduled to air September 28, and TV Land and Adaptly wanted to ensure the American public were aware.

“We began to reach out to people on social media whose interests correlated with aspects of the show, like Broadway or Hilary Duff, and also those in the show’s popular demographic of women 18-49,” said Heather Haney, client strategy manager at Adaptly. “The ads would include teaser clips for the future season or past clips of past seasons.”

However, the most elaborate marketing campaign for the show was formatted after the 2016 Presidential election. In conjunction with the first Presidential debate, Adaptly mounted a campaign for TV Land that was the first use of Twitter’s new Instant Unlock Cards, which drives users to retweet relevant hashtags in order to gain access to exclusive content.

“Content is key with users, and the best way to market it to a younger audience is through emerging technologies and capabilities,” Haney said. “We wanted to show Younger can not only be the voice of TV Land, but people can be the voice for the show.”

Twitter users were encouraged to choose which male character from the show they were rooting for to win the love of the show’s female lead. The tweet drove a 4 percent engagement rate, over double the rate from the previous season, at a cost-per engagement 15 percent lower than past tweets.

Younger Matures

The finale for season three is scheduled to run December 14, in a two-part episode entitled, “A Book Fair to Remember” and “Get Real.”

While the shows’s ratings have not been released for season three, Mirek said the results have met and exceeded expectations, prompting TV Land to renew the show for a fourth season.

While there are no concrete marketing plans for season four, both TV Land and Adaptly are committed to keeping Younger in the conversation.

“We’ve learned that highly relevant creative content works well,” Mirek said, “and that being relevant is not only important on a person-to-person level but on a worldview level to remain in the conversation.”

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