“Pretty Little Liars” created the social media playbook to rule them all
In just seven seasons, Pretty Little Liars has crafted the ultimate social-media handbook
For many young fans, the end of “Pretty Little Liars” is the end of a television era. Depending on their age, the twists and turns of the #PLL series was their introduction into the popular teen-drama scene, and fans have been growing up alongside their favorite cast and characters for the last seven years.
In 2016 “ABC Family” became “Freeform,” the rebranding effort was a monumental task for ABC, and one of the most successful in social-media history. Dozens of television series had to be updated on social-media, and this meant that thousands of pictures, headers, logos, Twitter handles, Instagram pages, Facebook accounts, social-media links and profiles, all had to be changed to reflect the new network. Not only that, but thousands of other accounts connected to the actors and cast had to be updated as well, meaning that new social-media accounts had to be created and promoted to reflected the new name. All of this hard-work was backing a huge gamble for the network; that viewers would respond well to the new branding and their ratings and social-media engagements would hold steady, or improve.
ABC Family was already the ruler of social-media in their demographic before the switch, making the change to Freeform all the more tumultuous if things went south after the rebrand. “Social Media” was the crown that ABC Family crafted for itself going into 2015, and the crown-jewel was the hit show “Pretty Little Liars.” Even at the top of its game, ABC Family decided, let’s go ahead and change everything.
Over the last few years we have talked about Freeform’s social-media accounts quite a bit, and every time we mentioned the network’s terrific social-media team, we have talked about the dominating presence of “Pretty Little Liars.” The show was once again this season’s top-rated Social Scripted TV Series, serving up over 270M total engagements overall. The company’s latest figures confirm just how well the network has perfected their social-media game.
The finalized figures from social media measurement company ListenFirst, show that Freeform crafted over 415M Total Engagements across key social media platforms during the 2015/16 TV season. That’s just ONE season, and that’s more than 11x the population of Canada, and more people than we have here in the United States.
The network ranked as the number-one, most-social entertainment cable TV network in Engagements per Show (15.4 million) and across Twitter (57.4 million). To give you an idea of just how amazing that is, MTV came in second-place with only 9.2M Engagements per show (down 6.2M from Freeform), and 48.8M across Twitter (down 10M from Freeform).
At the core of all of these engagements were two major shows, but nothing came close to how well “Pretty Little Liars” did on social-media. The series ranked as the season’s number-one most-social scripted TV series with over 270m Total Engagements across Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. To put that in perspective, that’s about 100M more than “The Walking Dead,” which came in at number-two with 167.6M, and 200M more than MTV’s “Teen Wolf” (82.7 million) in third-place.
Just think about that for a moment, 100M more engagements is about 5x the population of New York STATE, and 200M is almost 10x the population of New York state. Not just NYC, the entire state.
Now we are going into “Pretty Little Liars” final season, which will be bittersweet for the network. The finale is sure to bring the social-media darling into record-breaking heights on social-media, but the network will be losing one of its most successful brands.
“Pretty Little Liars” remains the holder of the Top 5 most-tweeted scripted TV series telecasts of all time and 6 of the Top 7 overall. Having 85% of the top Tweets of all time for a show is an impressive data-point to have on your resume. What Freeform has created on social-media with “Pretty Little Liars” is nothing short of sensational, and nothing comes close to it. So who will carry the torch once the ruler of social-media stops creating new episodes? Well Freeform hasn’t been sitting on its thumbs waiting to find out.
While “Pretty Little Liars” has been counting down to the series finale, Freeform has been winding up it’s second-most popular series “Shadowhunters”.
The new series launched just as the Freefrom rebrand took off, and “Shadowhunters” was the number-one new TV series of the 2015/16 broadcast season in Total Engagements (62.3 million). That’s an amazing number for a show that is still in its first-season. The show ranked an impressive number-five overall among all broadcast and cable TV series, and season two hasn’t even started yet.
“Shadowhunters” was also the number-one TV series on Tumblr (6.3 million) and placed among the Top 5 scripted TV series on Instagram (No. 4 – 32.5 million) and Twitter (No. 5 – 15.3 million).
The new series had a lot of buzz going into its first season, which helped it reach these record heights. Shadowhunters is based on the popular novels written by Cassandra Clare, and the franchise was also part of a film released back in 2013 starring Lily Collins. While the film didn’t exactly connect with readers, the TV-series had the “Pretty Little Liars” social-media playbook on-deck to kickoff season one, and it became an instant success. The sudden rise to social-media fame can also be attributed to the fact that the series has a few of the most transcendently good-looking young actors on the planet, including stars Katherine McNamara, Dominic Sherwood, Emeraude Toubia, Matthew Daddario and Isaiah Mustafa, and was produced by Constantin Film and executive-produced by Ed Decter and McG.
As viewers, we tend to get fixated on new series. Streaming sites like Netflix, HULU and Amazon Video are always launching new shows, and there are a dozen other popular networks vying for our attention on social-media every time we login to Twitter to Facebook. With all of this new content being promoted and shared across social-media, it’s easy to misjudge which series are actually connecting with fans. Seven years in and #PLL is still dominating the charts, connecting with its fan-base, not only more often, but WITH the largest audience on social-media. That’s an impressive statistics for any show to have, but Freeform is going for two.
It’s still a little early to see just how far “Shadowhunters” will rise once Pretty Little Liars wraps next year, but it has the best social-media team in the business working on taking the top-spot for the next six years.