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Social TV Activation: Driving Engagement & Viewership for a PBS Documentary Premier
 

Social TV Activation: Driving Engagement & Viewership for a PBS Documentary Premier

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Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope premiered on select local PBS stations on Thursday, January 31. The film’s director, Emmy Award-winning veteran journalist and documentary filmmaker Dan ...

Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope premiered on select local PBS stations on Thursday, January 31. The film’s director, Emmy Award-winning veteran journalist and documentary filmmaker Dan Cohen, hired Geben Communication to build and activate Mission of Hope’s online network through social media and online media/blogger outreach. This case study details the strategy, tactics and results.

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    Social TV Activation: Driving Engagement & Viewership for a PBS Documentary Premier Social TV Activation: Driving Engagement & Viewership for a PBS Documentary Premier Document Transcript

    • Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of HopeSpace Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope tells the remarkable story of Colonel Ilan Ramon, afighter pilot and son of Holocaust survivors who became Israel’s first and only astronaut – apayload specialist aboard space shuttle Columbia. The award-winning documentary focuses onCol. Ramon’s "mission within the mission," detailing the space shuttle’s connection to theHolocaust through a miniature Torah scroll, initially hidden in a concentration camp. Tosymbolize the possibility of rising from the depths of hell to the heights of space, Col. Ramonbrought the Torah with him on the shuttle – inspiring a nation in the process.Situation: Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope premiered on select local PBS stations onThursday, January 31. The film’s director, Emmy Award-winning veteran journalist anddocumentary filmmaker Dan Cohen, hired Geben to assist with building and activating Missionof Hope’s online network through social media and online media/blogger outreach.Approach: In just three weeks, Geben developed and executed a highly targeted socialactivation plan to drive viewership and discussion during Mission of Hope’s premiere.The plan focused first on educating our audience about the story behind the film, plus buildingrelationships with online influencers and bloggers who would ultimately help share our story.Once we had begun building the network, we shifted gears and began activating our audienceto watch the premiere of Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope on their local PBS station,plus share their thoughts, reactions and reflections to the film during a Virtual Viewing Partyhosted on Twitter.Challenges: • Starting from scratch: Mission of Hope had just joined Facebook and Twitter in mid-December 2012, so the network was very limited – 246 fans and 20 followers – when we began managing their community in mid-January. We were literally challenged to build Mission of Hope’s network from the ground up – and to do it in three weeks. • Limited demographic: PBS’ programming typically reaches a narrow demographic – namely, upper-class, educated and Caucasian. Since diversity was a central theme in the Columbia crew’s story, we wanted to extend our reach beyond that demographic. (Fun fact: The five-man, two-woman crew included an Israeli, an African-American and an American woman who was born in India, plus covered religious backgrounds from Christianity to Judaism, Catholicism, Hinduism and Unitarian Universalism), • Sensitive subject matter: Some of the central themes and subjects weaved throughout the documentary – like Middle East politics, the Holocaust and the Columbia disaster – are challenging to discuss via social media. As such, we needed to delicately balance our desire to foster conversation with a sensitivity to emotionally charged topics.Want to learn more about Geben? Let’s talk!www.GebenCommunication.com • heather [at] gebencommunication.com • @prTini
    • Strategy and Tactics:Community ManagementMission of Hope had just joined Facebook and Twitter in December 2012, so the cornerstone ofour community management strategy was to build their networks from the ground up. Then, asthe premiere drew closer, we shifted our focus toward activating our fans and followers toshare, watch and discuss the film.In the beginning …On Facebook, we posted 2-3 times per day, sharing relevant articles and facts about spaceexploration and the Columbia crew, plus facilitating conversation among potential viewers.Additionally, we leveraged a small amount of Facebook advertising that targeted people withrelevant likes/interests. Though the budget was small, this targeted outreach not only helpedgrow the fan base, but also ensured new likes came from potential viewers.Want to learn more about Geben? Let’s talk!www.GebenCommunication.com • heather [at] gebencommunication.com • @prTini
    • On Twitter, we focused on tapping into the existing online space community and facilitatingconversations between potential viewers. To do this, we planned 4-5 posts per day, coupledwith very frequent interactions with the community. We relied heavily on targeted hashtagsearches (i.e.: #STS107, #NASAsocial, #spacetweeps, etc.) and Twitter lists (i.e.: spaceinfluencers, space media) to monitor and engage in relevant conversations that would helpgrow our Twitter footprint and sync up with overall goals.Want to learn more about Geben? Let’s talk!www.GebenCommunication.com • heather [at] gebencommunication.com • @prTini
    • As the premiere drew closer …On Facebook, we continued to post 2-3 times per day, but focused on promoting the film (i.e.:sharing Col. Ramon’s story, highlighting local airdates and times, etc.) and encouraging viewersto join the Virtual Viewing Party – detailed below – during its premiere.Want to learn more about Geben? Let’s talk!www.GebenCommunication.com • heather [at] gebencommunication.com • @prTini
    • On Twitter, we promoted the film and Virtual Viewing Party 4-5 times per day, but focusedmainly on nurturing relationships with the influential “space tweeps” that we had identified andconnected with through our targeted searches and lists. We continued to monitor and engagein relevant conversations, but began using those conversations as a means to identify potentialviewers and invite them to participate in the Virtual Viewing Party chat.On both networks, we created and shared custom links whenever we discussed the film or theVirtual Viewing Party. The custom website link (http://bitly.com/ColumbiaMOH) was clicked 635times, while the custom Virtual Viewing Party link (http://bitly.com/WatchColumbiaMOH) wasclicked 401 times. We also created a social media news release that was viewed 525 times.The Virtual Viewing PartyWhile getting fans and followers to watch the film was a large piece of the campaign, ourultimate goal was encouraging viewers to share their thoughts, reactions and reflections duringits premiere. To do so, we organized and invited our online community to participate in a VirtualViewing Party on Twitter. This allowed us not only to take the film’s powerful message beyondwhat was seen on television but also to:Want to learn more about Geben? Let’s talk!www.GebenCommunication.com • heather [at] gebencommunication.com • @prTini
    • 1. Reach a broader audience than the “traditional” PBS viewership 2. Facilitate a real-time conversation about the documentary’s themes and stories, and 3. Engage people who weren’t able to watch the film liveThe hosts:When we initially began building our Twitter following, we had identified highly influential,active members of the online space community that could potentially work with us as viewingparty “hosts.” As the premiere drew closer, we interacted and built relationships with thesepeople before reaching out and asking them to participate. Four community members –@flyingjenny @ageekmom @adcunningham and @heathernaut88 – signed on as hosts. Theypromoted the Virtual Viewing Party in the days leading up to it, plus helped facilitate thediscussion as it happened.Promotion:We created a Facebook event explaining how fans could participate in the Virtual Viewing Party,and then shared the details with our networks leading up to the premiere. Our “hosts” sharedthe details with their networks as well. In addition, we used Promoted Posts and Facebookadvertising to drive participation from viewers in key geographic areas (the ads targeted citiespremiering the documentary during the Virtual Viewing Party) with relevant likes/interests.Just in case:While planning the Virtual Viewing Party, we realized that certain subject matter in thedocumentary could lead to negative comments and feedback during the discussion. In theunlikely event that a participant began talking about Middle East politics, “Holocaust Denial” oranti-NASA, we drafted “crisis messaging” tweets that would steer the conversation back to thepurpose of the documentary – celebrating the lives of Columbia’s crew.Execution:We moderated the viewing party through the @ColumbiaMOH account, and asked our “hosts”to help lead the discussion. Plus, we added a layer of personalization to the discussion byinviting the film’s director, Dan Cohen, and producer, Christopher Cowen, to participate andinteract with viewers on their own during the chat. We planned questions throughout the filmand invited participants to tweet their thoughts as well. Additionally, we created a detailed“script” of quotes and sound bites from the documentary that we could share throughout thepremiere. Finally, we asked viewers who couldn’t watch live (or, who lived in cities airing thedocumentary at a later date or time) to share their thoughts, reactions and reflections using the#ColumbiaMOH hashtag. This hashtag helped track the entire conversation.Want to learn more about Geben? Let’s talk!www.GebenCommunication.com • heather [at] gebencommunication.com • @prTini
    • More than 175 people participated in the Virtual Viewing Party, posting 885 tweetswith the #ColumbiaMOH hashtag.Blogger/Online OutreachThe final piece of the puzzle was blogger outreach, specifically targeting blogs whose readerswould be interested in broader messages from Mission of Hope: embracing diversity, theresilience of the human spirit and working together to accomplish a greater goal. We pitchedguest posts from the film’s director to select blogs and online media outlets. Additionally, weused these guest posts as an opportunity to share how people could connect with the film onsocial media and participate in the Virtual Viewing party.Want to learn more about Geben? Let’s talk!www.GebenCommunication.com • heather [at] gebencommunication.com • @prTini
    • Results:Network growth & reach: • According to social media measurement platform Sysomos, more than 1,000 tweets using the #ColumbiaMOH hashtag reached nearly 2 million people throughout the course of the three-week campaign, and nearly 400 @ColumbiaMOH mentions reached 1.5 million people. • Plus, Mission of Hope’s Twitter following increased 580%. • On Facebook, Mission of Hope’s network increased 210%. • Throughout the campaign, the page’s number of people “Talking About This” increased 386% and reach increased 634%. On the night of Mission of Hope’s premiere, 80% of our fanbase was talking about our page.Want to learn more about Geben? Let’s talk!www.GebenCommunication.com • heather [at] gebencommunication.com • @prTini
    • Viewing party reach: • The #ColumbiaMOH hastag reached approximately 1.5 million people, according to Sysomos. Plus, 279 @ColumbiaMOH mentions reached 555,000 people.Guest posts:Guest posts secured on Mashable, Forbes, Huffington Post and Moonandback.com were shareda total of 771 times. • In the Ashes of Space Shuttle Columbia, an Untold Story (Mashable) • 10 Things to Reflect On About Space Shuttle Columbia 10 Years Later (Forbes) • Reflecting on Space Shuttle Columbia, 10 Years Later (Huffington Post) • “Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope” Airs Thursday, Jan 31 (MoonandBack.com)Want to learn more about Geben? Let’s talk!www.GebenCommunication.com • heather [at] gebencommunication.com • @prTini