Fringe fans, we’re doing something new. Something big.

With the organization still in its infancy, Fringenuity’s twin Twitter/GetGlue campaigns have garnered overwhelming support from fans across the globe, as well as official recognition from the studios involved. Since the Jan. 13th premier, our check-ins and hashtags have not only trended every week, but have grown exponentially in numbers of participants and social impressions created. We’re breaking new ground: to my knowledge, no fandom has ever done anything quite so cohesive before - they never had the tools. Fringe has been the beneficiary of some very unique circumstances; the show needed support at a time when social media was really coming into its own, and for the first time ever, fans without Nielsen boxes had quantifiable ways to show that we’re watching too. Faced with ratings that would have been a show’s death knell a few years ago, Fox chose to use Fringe as a testing ground for a boatload of new data: namely DVR and other alternative viewing habits, and the growing influence of social buzz. Fringe’s fan base has always been boisterous and enthusiastic - falling ratings and growing concern goaded fans into action a long time ago. We got to know each other, working loosely together for Fringe over the span of years, learning as we went how to use the social networks for our own promotional activities. The eventual coalescence of Fringenuity has turned us into a force to be reckoned with, converging on social platforms in a concentrated effort to prove that there’s more to this story than Nielsen samples.

We’re making history here.

For fans to have accomplished so much in just six short weeks is a stunning look at the potential of some largely unexplored territory. Fringenuity was born out of the enthusiasm of hundreds of fans looking to do anything they could to support their show. Since its inception, we’ve done a lot of research (and we’re still learning as we go), and we wanted to share some of what we’ve learned with you. This article is an attempt to explain how our hashtags are chosen, how trending works, and how a united and vocal fandom can continue to keep Fringe alive. Here are some definitions, and the relevant numbers on the campaigns since we started tracking them:

Reach is the total number of unique Twitter users that received tweets about the search term.

Exposure is the total number of times tweets about the search term were received by users. We call each receipt of a tweet an impression. - Tweetreach.com

Past campaigns:

#CrossTheLine 01-13-12
Not tracked, we had no idea
the reception would be so positive. ;)

#EnemyofMyEnemy 01-20-12
Tweets: 21,421
Contributors: 2,259
Reach: 633,967
Exposure: 4,793,479

#ObserveItLive 01-27-12
Tweets: 16,606
Contributors: 1,479
Reach: 498,506
Exposure: 4,074,704

#TakeTheLead 02-03-12
Tweets: 20,740
Contributors: 2,066
Reach: 846,255
Exposure: 4,974,553

#BreakingOut  02-10-12
Tweets: 18,454
Contributors: 1,846
Reach: 765,141
Exposure: 4,405,489

#BeABetterMan 02-17-12
Tweets: 44,930
Contributors: 19,890
Reach: 8,225,509
Exposure: 23,427,945

It’s all about content

Choosing the right tag is a tricky business. Tweets containing more than one hashtag will not count towards trending, but retweets of a single hashtag will. Tweets from locked accounts are “invisible” and also don’t count. Because of the way the trending algorithm works, it needs to be a word or phrase that isn’t routinely discussed on Twitter. We can’t use #Fringe for example, because it’s used all the time, which severely hampers its chances at making the charts. Trends are identified through a combination of novelty, and number and location of participants: 1000 people in Texas sending 100 tweets an hour containing a tag that’s used all the time are less likely to trend than 1000 people all over the world sending 10 tweets an hour on a topic that’s never been seen before.* As Twitter puts it:  "Twitter Trends are automatically generated by an algorithm that attempts to identify topics that are being talked about more right now than they were previously. The Trends list is designed to help people discover the ‘most breaking’ breaking news from across the world, in real-time.”

*Numbers are only examples.

Taking all this information into account, our hashtags are designed with a dual purpose in mind. First, it needs to be something that will appeal to Fringies as having a distinctive tie-in to the show; and secondly, it needs to be something that has the potential to catch the interest of outsiders, in order to amplify our collective voice and our chances of garnering new viewers. Looking at the tags used above, you may notice that the tags with the lowest numbers to date have been #ObserveItLive and #BreakingOut - both a little more Fringe-centric - while those that have had the best success were the ones that had the broadest appeal to outsiders, with #BeABetterMan blowing the rest of them out of the water. And while it may not seem directly helpful to hope our tag goes mainstream, it’s hard to argue with twenty-three million impressions. Sure, many of those had nothing to do with Fringe, but that’s twenty-three million opportunities for someone to click on the tag and see a stream of Fringe related tweets. This is the logic behind inserting the word (without the hash!) “Fringe” in as many of our tweets as possible.

How long is long enough?

Lets talk a little bit about trending times. With over 100 million active users sending out 300 million tweets per day, trending even momentarily is a huge feat - especially for a grassroots fan campaign with no ties to traditional media outlets. (Thirty-one percent of the tweets that contribute to trends are retweets, and seventy-two percent of those are retweets of a major news outlet’s stream.) In such a vast sea of babble, the lifespan of most trending topics is somewhere between 20-40 minutes. Amazingly, Fringe fans have matched those trend times each week this year, and in some localities have kept their tag trending for far longer. Friday’s #BeABetterMan tag trended for well over an hour, and more than a day in certain areas (go Vancouver!! :D)

Undiscovered Country

We’re still working on a learning curve, but the success of these campaigns is staggering in its implications, for fans and for networks. Advertisers spend thousands of dollars on promoted trends, hoping to catch the eyes of the masses through social buzz. We’re doing it for free on a weekly basis. It’s an elegant illustration of the possibilities inherent in harnessing the passion of a fanbase for advertisement through social networking. We know the networks are paying attention - they’d be foolish not to. We’ve been very fortunate to catch the perfect storm of technology, timing, and enthusiasm to see just how far these new avenues can take us, and we sincerely hope we’re given the chance to explore them to their full potential. Come on Fox; we’re right here. Give us season five and let’s explore together to see how far we can go.

Stick together Fringies, and don’t give up. We’re doing it.

Resources and Further reading:

HP research shows mainstream media drive Twitter ‘trends’ to a surprising degree
Where Twitter Trending Topics Really Come From
Data Reveals That “Occupying” Twitter Trending Topics is Harder Than it Looks!
Twitter On Track For 500 Million Total Users By March, 250 Million Active Users By End Of 2012

 

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