Television network BET was looking for a cost-effective way to promote BET+, the subscription video-on-demand service rolled out by BET Networks and Tyler Perry Studios in September 2019, so it turned to its most ardent advocates: its talent and fans.
BET+ director of social media Crystal Johnson said in an email, “Social media promotion is the bulk of our marketing plans these days, and we’re taking a talent-facing approach there. Going forward, social will be more important than it has been before. Brands are showing other brands that don’t believe in social so much the power of it.”
BET worked with media sharing platform Greenfly on the brand advocacy program, collecting, sorting and curating authentic content for its talent to share via their social channels.
Greenfly CEO Daniel Kirschner told Adweek, “Every organization has a community of advocates. It needs Greenfly to connect with those advocates and give them a platform to share.”
BET Networks director of social media marketing T.J. Barber told Adweek, “We’ve had a pretty robust relationship with Greenfly during my tenure here, so not much is different during shelter-in-place, but because of social distancing mandates, we’ve definitely increased frequency. With shows coming out of hiatus, particularly Tyler Perry’s, and a general need for bridge content between shows, we’ve solicited everything from fan videos to show talent catchups and social assets supporting our shelter-in-place initiative, #AloneTogether.”
The pandemic’s impact on the production process was not lost on Kirschner, either, as he pointed out that it is a lot harder to send out camera crews to work with people in person, and the brand advocacy initiative helps offset the impact on shoots and the longer-than-usual delays between seasons of shows.
Barber provided specifics on how the three leads of Twenties tapped Greenfly’s platform, saying, “This allows us the ability to make sure all members of the cast have every promo spot, character card and episodic trailer at the same time, which helps us create a bit of a thunderclap moment when released on social media simultaneously.”
Another advantage to this strategy, according to Kirschner, is that while social platforms tend to de-emphasize content from organizations, it enabled BET+ to “connect with fans through talent and the relationships talent has built with audiences. Advocating through individuals on social media is an incredible driving force when it comes to viewership and engagement.”
Not only do brand advocacy initiatives help connect with and engage fans, but the most passionate fans become part of the mix, as well, by resharing content from the shows’ talent and putting their own spin on it.
“Because Twenties is a show geared toward a younger audience with younger, lesser-known stars than what the BET audience is accustomed to, we had to lean into their individual fan bases to help build a base for the show,” Barber said. “Being able to easily replicate the strategy for the show among their disparate audiences made it easier for fans to connect with the cast as a whole, ultimately establishing and strengthening the foundation of (show creator) Lena Waithe and Twenties supporters on the network.”
One last benefit of similar initiatives to the one run by BET+ via Greenfly: “It strengthens the relationships between the network, public relations people and talent,” Kirschner said. “It creates a really nice dynamic where everybody feels like they’re benefiting.”