Aaron Livesy was Emmerdale's misunderstood bad boy with a big heart. Saving his best friend Adam, coping with mental illness and discovering his sexuality made him a force to be reckoned with. Through so much adversity, the character amassed a huge cross-generational social following - helping to expand the reach and buzz of Emmerdale.
So when a persona that influential to the show exits – only to return 2 years later – how do you reintroduce a character with such gravitas? Emmerdale created a multiplatform hashtag campaign to make sure Aaron came back with bang.
Emmerdale's objective was to tap into Aaron Livesy's cross-generational social following to reintegrate the character and boost ratings ahead of his return on screen.
Creating a 10-week campaign, we developed a content release strategy consisting of:
Starting from 2nd June, Emmerdale began seeding #AaronsBack into press releases and on its official site. The response resulted in increased traffic to the official site and a resurrection of Aaron Livesy achive video views.
Over the course of the next 5 weeks, Emmerdale focused on creating buzz be releasing archive images across all social platforms with hashtag branding. The conversation grew exponentially and a rise in Twitter followership and Facebook weekly reach began.
August arrived and as the fans began to grow restless awaiting an appearance date for the character, Emmerdale posted a daily countdown image across Facebook and Twitter. Reach grew and buzz increased.
Days prior to transmission, we continued to grow social conversation by uploading actor-lead piece-to-camera teaser clips on Facebook and Instagram, building anticipation to an incredible level. Emmerdale stoked the fire by uploading an exclusive 'first day on set' cast interview on the official site. Within minutes thousands of unique visitors watched (and in some cases re-watched) the short form video.
Finally, on the day of Aaron Livesy's return, two exclusive flock-to-unlock mechanisms were put into place on Facebook and Twitter hours before transmission, with the pay-off reveal of an exclusive sneak peek of the episode and the announcement of the actor's Twitter chat (due to be held after the next day's episode).
As the episode transmitted and the character made his re-appearance, #AaronsBack trended within the UK on Twitter.
Throughout the 10 week campaign, all content and promotional material carried #AaronsBack branding. This consistent reminder of the hashtag acted as a vehicle for conversation and helped to re-solidify the character by tapping into his existing following, turning fans into brand ambassadors who expanded reach and grew the audience. Weekly Facebook reach grew steadily and within the 10-week period Emmerdale's Twitter community attracted an additional 25,000 followers. Both the conversation and community continue to steadily grow as Aaron continues his bad boy unlucky-in-love ways in the small Village.
So why should we win? Well, because #AaronsBack…and in a BIG way.
~ Emmerdale on Facebook has 1.4 million likes, but often achieves a weekly reach of over 5 million users! Emmerdale trended on Facebook for the first time in 2015. Emmerdale Facebook releases sneak peeks, cast questions to fans, archive clips spanning 42 years of the show and more to an Always On Audience 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
~ Emmerdale on Twitter has grown from 140,000 followers in 2013 to 500,000 in 2 years thanks to live tweeting, fan engagement and exclusive Flock To Unlock content. Emmerdale and Emmerdale-related hashtags trend in the UK weekly. During a monumental episode in 2013, Emmerdale dominated both UK and Worldwide trends for over 2 hours. Emmerdale Twitter directly engages with followers and connects them to cast and story through twitter chats, video messages, live tweeting and more every day.
~ Emmerdale on Instagram is home to nearly 30,000 fans and growing. Showcasing an impressive album of backstage, behind-the-scenes and fun videos and images that breaks down the 4th wall everyday - inviting the fans into our world. Emmerdale Instagram covers important episodes live by offering bespoke behind-the-scenes videos and clips as the drama unfolds onscreen.
All this, and we're a digital two-man team. We do it all for the community…and we love it.