How Orange is the New Black Wins Social

Published on Jun 16th, 2016

by Jack Weinstein

Orange is the New Black, which airs season 4 on Friday, has been the most-engaged streaming TV show on social since it premiered in July 2013. And during that time, the gap between it and the next most-engaged streaming TV show has only widened.

The Netlfix hit about life inside a women’s minimum security prison generated more than 9.6 million actions (likes, comments and shares) through May, nearly double House of Cards’ engagement during the same time period. Hulu’s The Mindy Project, at No. 7, is the only show in the top 10 that doesn’t air on Netflix.



Because OTT (over-the-top) streaming services Netflix, Hulu and Amazon don’t provide audience viewership numbers, social media is the best way to evaluate whether audiences are tuning in, outside of subscriber data that the services release quarterly.

That may not seem like a big deal, but there’s more programming on streaming services than you might think. Netflix has aired 111 original shows since 2012, including 31 that will premiere this year. Advertisers will likely want an idea about who’s tuning into those programs, as they continue attracting audiences, which makes evaluating their success with social all that more important.

OITNB is one of Netflix’s most bingeable shows, so it’s not surprising that it’s the most-engaged streaming TV show on social.

The show uses Facebook and Twitter to preview its upcoming seasons with teasers and tune-in reminders . OITNB also uses bloopers and special holiday messages to keep audiences engaged between seasons. And the majority of that engagement is generated from content other than video, which has become a powerful engagement tool on social.

While OITNB employs social strategies to those used by network and cable TV programs on Facebook and Twitter, the show really sets itself apart on Instagram. Like network and cable, OITNB uses Instagram, where it generated 56% of its engagement through May, to take its audience behind the scenes and off set , but that’s really where the similarities end.

OITNB uses emojis in almost all of its posts, 92% through the first five months of the year. Care to guess which emoji was used most often? If you guessed the   you were correct. OITNB has used it 22 times so far this year. The show posted the   emoji 21 times and the ? 10 times.

One thing OITNB does more often than post emojis is use photos from other sources. Of the 114 Instagram posts OITNB published on the platform through May, 96% were reposted or sourced from the show’s stars and even fans, which encourages more engagement from the people tagged in posts.

In fact, OITNB’s most-engaged Instagram post year to date was reposted from a fan.



Last year, OITNB posted the first Little Red photo as part of its #FanFriday campaign. The photo generated so much interest, that the show invited the girl, whose name is Willow, to the set. OITNB used the opportunity to film exclusive content for social. The girl helped star Kate Mulgrew, who plays Red and stayed in character during the video, “bake a cake.” It's one of OITNB's most-engaged and viewed posts year to date.



OITNB illustrates the power of audience interaction on social. Who wouldn’t love to see their content reposted by one of their favorite shows? Even the possibility will keep fans engaging.

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