How FOX Broadcasting Harnessed Fan Generated Social Media Power for Fringe

By Aimee C. Long, Co-founder, Fringenuity

FOX Broadcasting has received much ill will due to a long chain of canceled science fiction shows, including Dollhouse and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Fans of FOX science fiction drama, Fringe, have worried about the renewal of the series almost every season.

A Call to Action Harnesses Fan Power

Fringe barely achieved a fourth season, but the fans’ passion was credited as the reason for the decision. In January of 2012, Fox Entertainment President, Kevin Reilly, made comments that the show was losing money for the network. This immediately set fans into Internet discussions about what to do.  As a brand advocate, I worked with a group of other fans in order to devise a social media plan to promote the show; we called our organization, Fringenuity.

The Rise of Social Television

Social television was really coming into vogue about this time. and we were there at the right time to capitalize on it. We researched Twitter trending mechanics and developed a plan to Twitter trend the hashtag #CrossTheLine for Fringe’s midseason premier episode. We put the call out for fan art contributions, and they came in the form of Twitter icons to be used by event participants, and in promotional videos for YouTube and Vimeo. A second part of the social media campaign asked fans to check-in to the show at GetGlue and to tweet the sponsors and advertisers. This first outing was a success, with sustained worldwide trending and trending in many individual countries. Fans continued the social media blitz for each week that a new Fringe episode aired. As we had hoped, we were being watched.

An Unprecedented Partnership

In late March, a contact from FOX informed us that the network wanted to air our event hashtags on the screen during the broadcast of Fringe on March 22, and this was reported by TV Guide. For that week, social media analytic provider Blue Fin Labs reported that the plot-based hashtag #WhereYouBelong was the number one scripted television show hashtag for that week. As reported by Variety, Fox decided to use Fringenuity’s hashtags for the remainder of season four. They also continued to do so for the fifth and final season of the series. The fact that FOX Broadcasting offered a partnership with the fans really showed that they understand the power of earned media, and it gave a sense of purpose and legitimacy to the fanbase. We felt empowered and that the network and show sponsors were listening to our concerns.

A Reciprocal Relationship Benefiting Networks and Fans

These Twitter and social media events are successful because they’re truly a fan-organized efforts, open to the entire Fringe fan community across several social media platforms. Through its fan partnership and support, and its renewal of Fringe for a concluding season, has gained back innumerable amounts of good will from an organically-engaged and brand-advocating fanbase.