Cultivating a shared experience – A “slightly stoopid” example

This week was the highly anticipated return of Glee on FOX. Millions of fans watched and even if you are not a fan yourself, the show's huge viewership must be acknowledged.

Of course Glee’s popularity comes from excellent writing, acting and production values as well as the FOX Broadcasting Company’s marketing prowess, but there is an additional concept that is a major contributor to Glee’s success - a shared experience.


Hashtags were originally used on Twitter as a way to participate in a discussion across the platform. Now, with Twitter’s media guidelines available, hashtags are being used for nearly every TV series, sports broadcast and breaking news story. They have, in fact, replaced the display of on-screen website addresses. From the guideline:

Choose and promote a single official hashtag. On Twitter, hashtags become links; therefore, tweets containing your show’s hashtag are powerful promotional messages that gather Twitter users around a central conversation. Your official hashtag should be clear but concise...You should show this hashtag on air at least once between every pair of commercial breaks.

The understated recommendation to show a hashtag “once or twice” wasn't enough for FOX. With Glee, FOX has taken the shared experience to the next level by showing the “#Glee” on the screen continuously during the show.

By always having #Glee on-screen, viewers can (and do!) reach out to others who are also watching, without explicitly establishing a permanent social connection. It is this lightweight, temporary, dip-your-toes-in-the-pool lack of commitment that is the power of a hashtag enabled shared experience. A recent Nielsen report states:

86% ( and 92% of 13-24s ) are using their mobile devices simultaneously with TV. A quarter of them say they are browsing content related to what they are watching, presenting a compelling opportunity for content providers and advertisers alike to complement the viewing experience on the mobile platform.

Fox is keenly aware there is a conversation that is occurring while fans watch Glee, the always on-screen hashtag is what connects them all together over 900,000 times since the show first aired.

Everyday more and more social media platforms and web services are adding support for hashtags, the most recent being Google’s google+ platform. Other platforms that support hashtags include YouTube, Tumblr, The Huffington Post, and Instagram (which was recently purchased by Facebook).

TIP: Even though Facebook does not officially support hashtags, unofficially they do. Create a dedicated Facebook fan page for your upcoming event and add the ‘#’ symbol as the first character of the page name. When you do, the pseudo-hashtag will become “clickable” and its use in comments will take users to your event's fan page.

A "slightly stoopid" example

The same success Fox has had with the Glee shared experience is available for your event.

We have a policy of making every effort to promote our customers best interests whenever and wherever we can. If you follow us on Twitter, you occasionally see that kind of cheer leading in the form of a tweet like this:

shared experience

Note our use of the ‘#unitytour2012’ hashtag that was established by the artists themselves as part of their marketing campaign. By including it in our tweet, we are cultivating the shared experience for the fans ( and raising event awareness ). In this particular example, the artist, Slightly Stoopid, is participating as well via a "retweet" of our post:

shared experience

Because of the artist's participation, fan event awareness increases exponentially and a shared experience begins to organically grow:

unity tour tweet 1

unity tour tweet 2

Neither of the fans above have a direct social connection to ThunderTix or the venue, but as you can see it is the hashtag that is the common thread across multiple platforms.

For the next few weeks, as anticipation builds, you are encouraged to watch the shared experience from the perspective of the artists, the fans and the venue simply by adding the ‘#unitytour2012’ hashtag to your preferred social media monitoring tool(s).

Let us help you cultivate your event’s shared experience

We would like to make a standing offer to help you find your event’s hashtag. It can be an official one established by an artist you’ve booked, but don’t have the time to research, or a fan generated hashtag already in pervasive use. If no hashtag exists we’d be more than happy to help formulate one so you can start raising event awareness right away.

Be sure to take a look at our other features and sign up for a free trial today!