Syndies Get Social

Shows connect with viewers via Pinterest, Tumblr, GetGlue, UStream, others

Syndication's series and personalities are all over the social media universe, with producers scouring for ways to go beyond Facebook and Twitter to connect and engage viewers, brand their programs and ultimately drive viewership to their shows.

“We are going out to where people are in social media and trying to engage them there as opposed to assuming that they are going to come to us,” says Bob Mohler, senior VP of digital media at Warner Bros.’ Telepictures. “Waiting for audiences to come to us is not realistic. This is about building brand awareness.”

Telepictures makes extensive use of social media. Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres has discovered several young stars—including Sophia Grace Brownlee and her cousin, Rosie McClelland— via YouTube. A quick visit to the show’s Website allows fans to connect with Ellen via Foursquare—where DeGeneres is one of the most-followed celebrities—as well as on short-form blogging site Tumblr, GetGlue, Pinterest, Instagram and more.

Warner Bros.’ Anderson is also active in social media, with a backstage blog on Tumblr that lets viewers go behind the scenes with quick videos and animated gifs. The show’s host, Anderson Cooper, who has been living in front of a video camera since he was a teenager, also has just begun posting 15-second videos on Tout—a sort of Twitter for video—where he poses questions to viewers. CBS Television Distribution’s Jeff Probst, which hasn’t even launched yet, is already all over Tout.

Anderson and Ellen also both have Pinterest pages, where they create boards of things they like. Ellen’s boards are branded both to DeGeneres’ own likes (vegan food, funny things) and boards that reflect some of her show’s regular features, such as “Clumsy Thumbsy” (in which people send inappropriate text messages due to auto-correct) and musical performances from the show. “What strikes me about Pinterest is that it’s the quickest hockey stick that social media has seen in a while,” says Mohler.

CTD’s Rachael Ray just launched its own Pinterest page last week, with boards appropriate to Ray, such as recipes, home décor and do-it-yourself projects. “For us, social media is really about finding a new audience,” says Lauren Nowell, the show’s director of publicity. Sites like Pinterest also help drive people to the show’s Website at, says Nowell.

Rachael Ray launched a Google+ page three weeks ago, and plans to do Google+ On Air Hangouts this fall, where Ray and her guests can chat with viewers online. The show also heavily integrates Facebook and Twitter, taking viewer questions from Twitter, mounting them on a board with balloons over them and having celebrity guests throw darts at the boards for the show’s “Pop the Question” segment.

Many daytime shows also are on GetGlue, where people can check in while they are watching a TV show or listening to music to earn stickers and interact with other fans. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune adds a twist: When viewers check in to GetGlue on Wednesdays, they get a deal of the day, such as a custom basket of Omaha Steaks valued at $169 for $60, or a $100 voucher from for $10.

In the end, social media works the same for syndicated shows as it does for everybody else: it’s all about getting your brand out there and connecting.

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