Cougar Town Explores Social Engagement During Hiatus: #Win

*edited 4/9/11 6:11pm

Since Cougar Town went on hiatus two months ago, Creator/Executive Producer Bill Lawrence has been hitting the Internet. Hard.

While it looks like he is genuinely enjoying the engagement with fans, I’ve been wondering if it was all a final push to get viewership up for the show’s return on April 18. Turns out, it is. And I think that’s brilliant.

It begun innocently enough with @VDOOZER and @kbiegel tagged on the title screen of CT’s last episode with an invitation to stay in touch. I immediately accepted, and found out we’d be treated to some hiatus fun with Cougar Town: Writers Vs. Actors mini videos on Vulture.

I’m a sucker for behind the scenes stuff anyways, and these weekly clips were awesome – hilarious, a perfect length, and featured cast, crew, and writers. The best part was that Bill and Kevin owned it from the beginning.

Then last week, Bill announced his takeover of the Scrubs Facebook page. It was then I realized two things:

  1. This is a Cougar Town viewership mission, and I love the strategy.
  2. I’m going to cry if it doesn’t work.

I’ve never seen a television producer go to such lengths to engage fans. Yeah, we can assume Bill’s motive is to bump viewership, but if you look at the way he talks to people on Twitter and watch the homegrown videos he’s recently posted on Facebook, one thing is blatantly clear: He loves what he’s doing – and he believes in it. And damn it, that’s why I have such an enormous man-crush on him.

Regardless of what happens with Cougar Town, I think this is a great strategy. Fans love talking to the stars and producers of their favorite shows. Social media lets the actors and creators listen and engage on a  level that is totally unprecedented. This is incredibly powerful, and if applied to TV shows, could be a serious tool for bumping viewership – but it has to be done in the right way. This mission would have been radically different if an intern was posting all the content. They aren’t – I checked:

http://twitter.com/#!/VDoozerAsst/status/52896912407408640

Success lies in truth. Bill standing there in Christa’s bathroom recording himself in the mirror is REAL. Hell, I’ve taken pictures of myself that way. He’s managed to break the barriers of fame and show himself as someone accessible to you and me. Seriously, isn’t that AWESOME? I really think this type of engagement strategy could revolutionize the way we experience entertainment.

As Hill Holliday’s Mike Proulx said, “TV is not dying. It is changing and getting better.”

In the end, I only want to know one thing: Who’s idea was it? Bill’s? Kevin’s? ABC’s?? (god I hope it wasn’t ABC).

Does anyone have other examples of how TV producers/creators are personally engaging fans through social media? I’d love to find some more examples like this!

*edited 4/9/11 6:11pm: Talk about an epic end to #failweek. Slightly embarrassed.

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One response to “Cougar Town Explores Social Engagement During Hiatus: #Win

  1. Pingback: My First Article is Live on #TNGG! | Eleanor K. Dowling

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