Has Teen Wolf Social Media Lost its Edge?
Social media has become an increasingly important – if not the most important – part of marketing for film and television. Sites like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr allow fans to engage directly with creators. Nielsen has started accounting for tweets and word-of-tweet recommendations can literally make or break a television show. These days a strong online presence is not so much a luxury as a necessity.
Official social media is tolerated and even embraced by fandom to a certain extent, but there is usually a degree of distance. Sometimes an official account tries and usually fails to use fandom terms or reference in-jokes. But every so often a social media team shines above the rest. They manage to skirt the line between trying too hard and not caring enough. Somehow, against all odds, they become one of us.
The Teen Wolf social media team appeared to have made this transition. They hung out on Tumblr, talked about their poor feels, actively discussed fanon ships like Sterek and just generally had a lot of fun with loving Teen Wolf. That’s the key that a lot of social media teams don’t seem to understand. If they don’t genuinely love the thing, it shows. Say what you want about Teen Wolf social media – there’s no doubt that they really do love Teen Wolf.
Their love paid off. Teen Wolf gained an astonishing amount of fans via social engagement. Whatever they were doing, it worked. Or it was working until recently anyway.
Teen Wolf was able to ride the high of a growing audience during the hiatus between Season 2 and 3, but when new episodes began to air it became clear that the show might not be able to live up to the hype. Season 3 received mixed reviews – while there were moments of awesome, overall the season suffered from serious issues with continuity and consistency. And ultimately the social media team is only as good as the source material. Where the show suffered, the social networking suffered too.
Since the Season 3 finale, Teen Wolf social media has had to contend with growing disappointment within the fandom. But instead of compensating for this discontent, they are continuing along as though nothing has changed. Unfortunately for Teen Wolf, the fandom has changed.
TWSM once seemed to have its finger on the pulse of fandom, but this hiatus they have made a series of unfortunate mistakes.
The first was the release of a spoof awards show “In Memorium” vid, featuring the many characters that have died on Teen Wolf. It was created to tie in with the latest Walk-On-Role contest – which offered one lucky viewer the chance to Die On Teen Wolf.
This video should have worked. Everyone loves a good spoof, it was relevant to the contest themes and it had just enough sarcasm and cynicism to appeal to the Tumblr audience. But it failed to take into account two of the biggest complaints from Season 3A: the death of several beloved POC and female characters and the confusing timeline. This video essentially plastered a neon sign above these issues saying “hey fandom, remember all that stuff you were yelling about? Well we totally ignored your complaints and then made a joke out of it.”
Not only did this video show a series of images of all the POC and women that have been unceremoniously killed on Teen Wolf, but it also got its own dates wrong. The pilot took place in January 2011 and as of the end of Season 3 only 8 months had passed – putting the date at around October 2011. The “In Memorium” video stated that characters killed in Season 3 died in 2012, which doesn’t make any sense no matter how you put it.
While this isn’t necessarily the social media team’s fault – they can only work with the information they are given – a quick Google search could have told them this video might not be well received.
But hey, everyone makes mistakes. They were probably just having an off week. Except it’s not a one off.
Since Season 3 finished airing, the Teen Wolf social media team has been noticeably quiet. It’s no longer actively trying to engage the fandom, which is particularly apparent because a slew of new official social media teams (like Hannibal and Sleepy Hollow) are blowing them out of the water. The few times they have attempted to engage, like the “In Memorium” video and their efforts to get votes for the TVGuide Fan Favorites Cover Contest, have either fallen flat or been actively criticized (baiting the Sterek fandom and threatening to kill a queer character).
Here’s the thing – these promotions probably would have been well received this time last year. But fandom – like any other subculture – is not stagnant. It shifts and evolves. It grows up. If the social media team doesn’t evolve with fandom then it risks becoming irrelevant. If they keep talking to us like we are the same fandom we were a year ago, then they are going to lose their insider status. But it’s worse; because they won’t just be outsiders looking in – they will be has-beens, and that’s really not good for business.
Is it worth being on the inside if you are rejected and end up worse off than when you began?
Promotion for Teen Wolf Season 3B hasn’t really begun yet, so there is still time for them to regain their status as social media darlings. I’m definitely interested to see how they interact with fandom as we head towards January and I can’t deny that I’m rooting for them to succeed. But I can’t help but wonder if it is possible for official social media in general to make the transition from the honeymoon period to the grown up fandom.
Author: Undie Girl
Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.
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24 thoughts on “Has Teen Wolf Social Media Lost its Edge?”
This only proves that you can engage fandom, but you can’t create it or control it, some shows like Supernatural are noteable exceptions, the fandom loves those characters so much, it doesn’t seem to matter when you get an awkward or plain bad season. Then again, with spn, the main loves are the three leads, and when they get killed, they always come back.
Two. SPN only has TWO leads.
Sucks to be you, Mary.
Do you want ice on that burn? 😀
Be nice, please. Anyone can make a mistake.
You’re forgetting Misha. He’s pretty much a lead now. But yeah…
I’m with ya, opening credits say there are three leads/regulars. And I love ’em all. 🙂
I’m not sure that fandom’s age has anything to do with it- proof is in the pudding. TW the show hasn’t demonstrated that it worked for the fandom’s love. They have the connections, they know what the fandom wants- they hosted a fic contest and actively courted one of the largest ships. When they ignore the concerns and criticisms it just says to fandom that they’ll only be good to them when fandom is worshiping without criticism.
Fandom is a living thing and it will always point out the flaws, not out of spite but out of a desire to see their beloved be better than it was. The correct response is not to ignore it or pretend it away, it is to go ‘we hear you’ and ‘we’re going to do better’- and THEN DO IT.
“And ultimately the social media team is only as good as the source material.”
That’s exactly it. Marketing and hype can only take you so far. The quality of the source material is the most important thing. A good show will speak for itself, it won’t need a social media team to speak for it. And what’s better is the fans will always talk back, they will spread the word, they will engage in public online discussions– especially when the show merits that kind of attention and praise, and when the show is something you are proud of being a fan of and want others to enjoy.
The advent of social media has created a space for two-way dialog between show and fan that before was very much one way, if it happened directly at all. The problem now is that fans have an expectation that our concerns and desires are being heard. What’s happening, then, is not so much bad content as bad manners. I love Jeff Davis’ work but he’s said himself, as have said the people that work with him, that this show is his baby, that it all comes from his head. He’s also said that he’s operating under the constraints of MTV executives, who often have a very large say in what can and cannot be done on the show.
If they were not willing or able to accommodate the concerns and interests of the show’s fans, those responsible should have had the decency to use their social media network to say just that. We may not have wanted to hear it, but at least it would have been honest. If they knew they would never be able to satisfactorily address any of it, then they should have kept silent and talked about something else that is of interest to the fans.
Instead, what they did was much more insulting: they took our concerns and rubbed our faces in them, and took our interests and led us around by the nose with them. They very much ought to expect a social media backlash for that. Coupled with their continual use of social media for blatant advertising purposes, and it’s no wonder fans are turned off.
If they want to use social media to effectively engage fandom, they’re going to have to change how they use social media. We may be consumers, but first and foremost, we’re fans. We don’t need to be sold to — we’re already invested. We certainly don’t want to be used. No one wants that! What we do want and what would bring them even more traffic is good conversation: we want to be heard and we want to hear, we want to respond and be responded to honestly. So if they want to fix this social media mess they’re in, maybe the powers that be at Teen Wolf should consider the following:
1. Schedule Q & As with Jeff, AND cast AND crew on a semi-regular basis, not just immediately pre-season or Sunday night before Teen Wolf airs. Answer random questions that can be answered, and not just questions that lead into tomorrow night’s show or the remainder of the season. As fans, we’re enticed by the complete work, not just what comes next in the immediate future.
2. Learn your fan base. Find out what we’re watching besides Teen Wolf. Create a dialog with other shows through social media. Play with them, and let us be a part of that. Watch with us, and be a fan with us.
3. Social media is good for dialog, but it’s also a great place to host a party. You already do that to some extent: in a way, you host a watch party every time an episode airs. But why not do the same in the interim, and host on-line re-watch parties at MTV.com? Or maybe have a Gag-Reel Night? Or game night? Use your imagination.
4. Host swag contests once in awhile. Make it easy on yourselves and pick random winners. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive or time consuming — for instance, how long would it take to get an official Teen Wolf poster autographed? If you’re in to something more time consuming, why not have more fanfic and fanart contests? Not everyone wants a walk-on role, but maybe something else could happen — maybe the winner of a fanfic contest could come spend a day in the writer’s room and help write an episode? Maybe a winner of an art contest could be hired to do an official poster people can buy and get signed at the next Comic-Con?
Those are all specific things, but here are some general ideas:
5. Be honest with us. If there’s something we want you can’t give us, tell us, and tell us why, if you can. If you can’t, don’t engage.
6. Don’t give us extras that are insensitive to the things that bother us.
7. Don’t use our desires to get us to do what you want.
If the powers that be at Teen Wolf can do all that with their social media, they stand a good chance of regaining their popularity. Hopefully, it won’t be too late.
To be honest, I think most of what is written in both the article and in the comments is a load of bull.
Oh, so sorry that it’s a little quiet on tumblr and twitter. What do you expect? That they are behind a computer all day? No, they have work to do to bring us those episodes, same for the actors. They have spend a lot of time already catering to fans. We have had the (pretty) regular Q&A’s on the TW tumblr page, we’ve had Lydia after Dark that was also pretty regular and isn’t something that a lot of shows make the time for, we’ve had the actors constantly tweeting even during episodes (and trolling the heck out of each other), we’ve been given updates with promo pictures and behind the scenes. Seriously…this is like complaining for the sake of complaining.
Did they drop the ball a few times. Yes, they did. I’m not going to deny that. No show does it perfectly all the time and you shouldn’t expect it to. That would be flawed thinking. The people behind this are still human and humans mess up sometimes. That doesn’t mean we should go acting like a raging bull.
As for the points on what they should do, as seen in one of the comments here.
1) Schedule Q & As: They already do that quite extensively. Have actually done it more than a lot of other shows. They can’t do this 24/7 and we shouldn’t demand this of them. For gods sake, let them have some time off once in a while. They aren’t fricking robots.
2)Learn your fan base: They really don’t have a lot of time between writing for the writers and being on set and I dunno, doing their jobs for the actors. They are already going to as many events as they can and participating in the social media hype. Stop the whiny demand that they should do more. They don’t have to go to events or tweet stuff or post on tumblr. They do it for us fans. They know us, they like us (most of us at least) and they take the time for us. They already do a lot. Plus references to still running shows can actually cost them money. They have to have an agreement with that other show to be able to reference it and some ask money for that.
3)Social media is good for dialog, but it’s also a great place to host a party: Already done after each episode with Lydia after Dark. Also the Walk with Tyler can be counted as this. I repeat, let them have some time off. What more do you want from these people? To cater to your wishes 24/7? They’ve got families and friends to spend time with too. They are already spending a lot of time on us, we shouldn’t demand that they spend even more. That just comes across as whiny and just shows that you aren’t being a good fan.
4)Host swag contests once in a while: Here one of the examples was to let a winner of a fanfiction contest help write an episode. No, just NO. This has been done before in other entertainment area’s and has proven to be disastrous. Take for instance the time they did that with DC. The result was one of the worst comics known for a long time. Fanfiction is completely different from writing an episode. Don’t mix the two, disaster will follow.
Art already gets signed. All you have to do is show up with the fricking piece and one of the actors will happily sign it. If you are the artist, chances are they have a) already seen it and will comment on that or b) laugh in glee and ask a copy. So why bother with that when it’s already done?
They are already hosting contests, which they don’t even have to do. It’s also something other shows don’t even bother with. So sorry that it doesn’t cater to your specific desire. Note the sarcasm because I’m really not sorry.
They can’t read the mind of every fan and they can’t follow the desire of every fan. Otherwhise the whole thing will become a huge clusterfuck and no one will be happy. You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t try to.
5) Be honest with us: Okay, seriously!? When the heck did they ever lie to us? And with that I mean straight out lie?
All the questions that they could answer they’ve tried to answer to the best of their abilities. You can’t answer every single one of them, you just can’t. Not even if you spend the entire day only doing just that.
And you also don’t WANT to answer every single question. Nothing ruins an episode as much as spoilers do. Actors and writers have to be carefull with what they say so they don’t ruin the experience. Some things are also better off as a mystery while others are things that could tie in with future episodes. Other things are things they actually aren’t allowed to answer due to legality.
6)Don’t give us extras that are insensitive to the things that bother us: Okay, yeah I admit, they made a mistake with that. They dropped the ball on that one and it wasn’t good.
Speak about it once and then move on. Quit hammering on it because it just comes off as beating an already dead horse. They get it, it was poorly received and they should have done better.
7)Don’t use our desires to get us to do what you want: There is a fine line between fanservice and begging for attention. True. Have they crossed that line? I would say no, others will say yes. It’s a fricking endless debate that goes nowhere. My advice? Relax and take a chill pill. If you don’t like the show, don’t watch it. If you like the show? Then what is your problem? Just ignore the rest and watch the show and you shouldn’t have a problem at all.
As a final note: You have bad and good shows, you have bad and good fans/fandoms. Normally they work in tandem and blessed harmony. This right here though isn’t so much a show dropping the ball with social media. This is a group of the fandom making an elephant out of a fly and blowing things out of proportion.
My advice? For crying out loud, please stop demanding things. You aren’t entitled to anything. You can’t demand anything and you don’t have the right to anything. So you can yell as loud as you want, all you’ll get is a sore throat. Is it nice if a show listens to it’s fanbase? Yes, and sometimes it makes it a better show, sometimes it doesn’t. But do they absolutely have to? NO. So please, quit acting like ‘they should do this because I say so’ because frankly, it’s higly annoying. Just enjoy the show while it lasts.
Hi. While I think the comment by Venivincere was well thought out and interesting, I do think that TWSM has actually done a lot of those things. They have done them really well. So I accept your criticisms on those points. In fact the reason I chose to discuss this in regards to the TWSM is because they have previously been so good at engaging the fandom. I think they did an AMAZING job during the Season 2/3 hiatus.
Here’s the thing, whether we like it or not, Social Media has become a text in itself. It plays an ever increasing role in the way that people watch and engage with a show so it is just as important to criticise as the actual show. There is nothing in the article about entitlement – I in no way suggested that SM or TPTB should cater for the fanbase’s every whim. That is ridiculous and I think you will find that most fans agree with that sentiment. It’s not about getting what we want, it’s about being heard.
Of course they have other duties, but it’s still their JOB to engage with the audience via social media – if they are not seen doing this, that’s a failure on their part. It’s their job to stay on top of fandom trends so that they know what to promote and when – and as I pointed out in the article, TWSM has failed to do this on several occasions. And if they had not been noticeably quieter, these instances probably wouldn’t have been quite so obvious.
Social media is a marketing tool but it’s not like traditional advertising in that it’s a conversation. And if the audience doesn’t feel that their side of the conversation is being heard than they are less likely to engage with the product they are being sold.
You’re right though, they don’t have to engage with the fandom. They can just ignore us, just the same as we can ignore them, but that’s not good for either the show or the fandom so I don’t know why anyone would want that. Both fandom and TPTB want this relationship to work, because it benefits both sides, but if we don’t actually discuss the problems then both parties are just going to get increasingly bitter.
Also – being critical doesn’t hamper my enjoyment, it’s actually a big part of how I enjoy media. You can love something and enjoy it while still being critical of the problematic aspects. So yes, I will enjoy the show while it lasts – I’ll even enjoy all promotional things TWSM releases, but that won’t stop me from being critical.
I could apply what you just said to Supernatural as well. Especially the “be honest with us” and don’t give us extras that are insensitive to things that bother us”, oh, and “don’t use our desires to get us to do what you want”. Don’t listen to people who whine at you for this post because you know what? WE ARE CONSUMERS of a product and WE can make or break that product. We might not write the paycheck of the people who work on a show, but we sure as hell make sure they get one. Therefore, the fans DO deserve to be treated with respect instead of being told to just “go watch something else if you don’t like it”.
Whatever show it may be, if the fans wish to be heard, and listened to, then they should remember to mind their manners and to be respectful. No one likes dealing with whiny spoiled brats, or zealots with an agenda. (Pay attention Supernatural shippers) No show is perfect, and neither are the fans. Everyone has off-days, missteps, and will on occasion drop the ball. That’s a given. BUT: Fans need to remember those involved in bringing us our favorite entertainment work long crazy mondo hours to do so. They can’t stop what they’re doing every five minutes to answer your questions, or to suffer your demands. What I have witnessed this last year with social media in general is, frankly, appalling in a number of ways. Why is it that people get online, and suddenly regress to bratty 12 year olds with no manners, no respect, and apparently no sense of self-dignity? Seriously, I know a number of psych professionals who would have a field day with this. Yes, fans are important to a show, after all, it’s what helps keep them on the air, and believe it or not (duh) the shows *know* this. They go out of their way to appeal to fans and to try and accommodate them when possible. Fans need to remember though that every show is a multi-layered production, often controlled from the top by people who are in the business of making money, and people whose cultural attitudes and mores may be fundamentally different than those of the fandom at large. So stop screaming at the cast/crew/writers/producers who most likely have no leeway to make the changes *you* deem ‘important’ and ‘necessary’. They’re just doing their jobs, and doing what TPTB expect them to do. And yeah, if things REALLY bother you THAT much, instead of whining and b*tching about it and making other people miserable WALK AWAY. STOP watching if it bugs you so much. Believe it or not, a majority of other fans are probably wishing you would just go away and stop ruining their enjoyment of their show. Most, however, have far too many manners and are far too polite to get in your face and tell you to shut up. Ganging up into cyber-mobs and using terrorist tactics to bully and bulldoze your way over everyone in your path is NOT going to gain you an audience with TPTB or a foothold it will only gain you contempt and disgust, and ultimately, in the end, cost EVERYONE, mainly getting the show you supposedly ‘love’ taken off the air. Grow up. Seriously people…grow up, get over yourselves, and go find something meaningful to do with your life. Stop usurping legitimate issues to push your own agendas. And stop acting all hurt and boohooey when those you’ve pushed push back and tell you to get over it. If you can act in a reasonable manner, speak with respect, and demonstrate genuine intelligence, then people will pay far more attention to you rather than dismissing you outright as a zealot or a delusional nutter.
Just sayin’… (shrug)… oh, and for the record, there are 2 leads on Supernatural, with a supporting 3rd. Misha Collins didn’t enter the picture until season 4, and only recently got upgraded to a series regular. Jared and Jensen are the heart of that show, and always will be. Anything else is just added layers. If you had actually watched the show from the get-go, you would understand that. Per usual, though, the latecomers to the party always seem to think they know more/better than those who were there from the beginning.
Umm hi, I’m actually not entirely sure how to respond to this but I will give it my best shot. I am not “whining” or “demanding” anything and if you think pointing out genuine criticism in a respectful way is whining then I don’t think we are going to agree on anything. I’m aware that fans can be a little hyperbolic sometimes but one of the first things anyone who works in a creative role learns is how to know which criticisms to take on board and which to ignore.
Do you think so little of TPTB that they can’t handle a little criticism? Because that’s quite rude actually, they are grown-ups and even if criticism does hurt sometimes they are capable of understanding that it is not a personal attack.
Fans are – for the most part – respectful. I know there are always exceptions to that rule and if there was something I could do about that I would but I can’t all I can do is hope that the respectful voices drown out the disrespectful ones.
If you are accusing me (I wrote this article) of being disrespectful then I will have to disagree. I love Teen Wolf – and I respect TPTB – all this article does is point out a couple of recent missteps by the PR department and question whether or not it is possible for Official Social Media to remain relevant once the honeymoon period is over. That’s a legitimate question that most entertainment PR departments are currently grappling with.
I’m aware they are doing they’re jobs – and I know that they are subject to external pressures. This isn’t about demanding storylines this is about making the most of a relationship that benefits both parties. Here’s the thing, the SM job is to engage with the audience and part of that role is to stay on top of fandom trends so that they know what to promote and when – and as I pointed out in the article, TWSM has failed to do this on several occasions recently.
I’m not invalidating what they have done in the past. They have done an exceptionally good job of engaging with fandom but after Season 3 was not as well received as hoped, they seemed to lose touch a little. The question I asked in the article was whether or not it was possible for them to have a conversation about anything other than the positive aspects of the show.
You’re right though, we could just walk away but that assumes that just because we have a couple of criticisms that we don’t actually enjoy the show. The fact that I am willing to point out it’s flaws doesn’t mean I don’t love Teen Wolf. In fact, if I didn’t care about Teen Wolf, if I wasn’t interested, I wouldn’t be critical. Criticism comes from love.
Finally, I don’t know if you realise this but you are undermining the crux of your argument by whining in a post about whining. IDK maybe you are trying to be ironic but just as a warning for next time this is probably not the best way to be heard because people might just ignore what you have to say because of the hypocritical way you are saying it.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to the article though, and I have fun loving Teen Wolf – I know I will.
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“Disagreement is fine, but please do not be cruel, hurtful, or downright mean towards other community members.”
First off, I take personal affront to this statement.
Secondly, Don’t make assumptions. I, myself and many of the other writers on this blog have watched SPN from day 1 episode 1 as it aired on the WB. Some of us are super fans. Others actually attend the Supernatural Conventions and have met and interacted with many of the actors and writers of the show. At least 3 members of the staff were on the same GISHWHES team two years running, and several others joined the event last year. We are aware that at one time there were only two leads. We are also aware that as of this moment in time, Season 9 — there are three leads to the show (Four if you count BABY, which I do as BABY is an integral part of the series. See Swan Song).
Lastly, Don’t be disparaging. Some people can come in late to the party and watch from the beginning and still know more than some people who have watched from day 1, because they are wired that way. A friend of mine knows BTVS so well she can pick out episodes based on single lines of dialogue, but she didn’t watch it until it was off the air.
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