The re-imagining of a series
The Australian series Wentworth was conceived as a re-imagining of the iconic Australian soap opera series “Prisoner” (1979 – 1986). Unlike it’s predecessor, Wentworth has traded in the wobbly sets and camp acting for a far more gritty and dramatic take on the lives of women in prison. With three seasons behind it and a forth on the way, the series is well on it’s way to international acclaim, now being shown in over 20 countries.
Between early 2013 and late 2015, I was tasked with promoting Wentworth in the digital space and building up a community of fans for the series. I managed the series website as well as it’s web promotion on the SoHo channel website. I also established and managed social media accounts for the series. For each season’s promotion, I took a different approach that best reflected where the series was in it’s life cycle.
“IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME”
When launching Wentworth for season one, I focused on finding the most relatable users and engaging them with the new brand. As Wentworth was based on an old Australian soap, “Prisoner”, my strategy included targeting those fans on social media and getting them excited about seeing old characters re-imagined.
Over the two months before launch I built a small but very heavily engaged community on Facebook and Twitter. Our organic Facebook reach was consistently 4x the number of total users and by the time of the finale we were reaching between 60,000 – 80,000 Australians with a fan base of only 16,000 (increasing at a rate of 1,000 likes per week).
The first season of Wentworth was very well received and became one of the most successful local dramas ever made by Foxtel. The series went on to be sold overseas and to do exceptionally well in foreign markets (particularly the UK and Europe).
- Season 1
- Season 2
- Season 3
- Season 1
- Season 2
- Season 3
After a successful first season, I was able to grow the Wentworth fan community considerably, seeing a 600% increase in Facebook and twitter followers. By the end of season 2, the series had over 100,000 followers on Facebook and our weekly engagement scores were in the hundreds of thousands.
For season 2, my strategy moved away from brand identity and I began to focus on encouraging the viral promotion of the series. I created memes for the characters and highlighted the best moments from the show in an easily shareable style.
In an effort to improve traffic to the website for season 2, we focused on improving bonus video content available to the Wentworth audience. I doubled the amount of cast interviews from season 1 and also provided featurettes from various areas of production.
I also focused on providing video that was episode specific so that is was more engaging to the audience. As a result both web traffic and video views across the Wentworth website increased.
Throughout the course of the first 2 years of Wentworth, I implemented a number of competitions and web based games to further engage our viewers.
The two most popular competitions involved prize packs of highly sort after Wentworth merchandise as well as the ultimate for any fan, a tour of the set. Viewer response was very high and has resulted in continual pleas to run similar competitions in the future.
During the first season of Wentworth, I created a trivia app for the series and made it available through both the Wentworth Facebook page and the website. Each user would be subjected to 10 questions to determine just how much they paid attention during the first season.
During the second season of the series, I created a personality test app which was also available to play through our Facebook page as well as the website. The objective of the game follows standard personality test rules to determine what kind of prisoner you would make inside Wentworth, with the results being characters from the series.
After the success of the first 2 years of the series, our audience continued to grow rapidly across social platforms. In 2015 I focused even more on social media and less on the website for viewer engagement.
I allowed more video to be exclusively available on social platforms (particularly Facebook) and encouraged fan art by reposting and retweeting.
I also organised cast tweet alongs during the premiere of the series as well as some select episodes to help improve our twitter engagement.
By the end of season 3, our community on Facebook had doubled yet again and our twitter followers had increased four fold with little sign of slowing down.