MTV's hit cult series "Teen Wolf" returns to the cable airwaves for its season 3 premiere on Monday evening at 10 p.m. Though to super fans, the show never really went on hiatus 10 months ago. It just moved to different platforms.
To keep the conversation going in offseason, the network implemented an aggressive bridge marketing strategy immediately following August's season 2 finale. MTV rolled out a 365-day plan for maintaining engagement of the "Teen Wolf"audience through social media -- a space where the network (and this show in particular) has a strong footprint.
"From a competitive standpoint, there's no dark time anymore," executive vice president of marketing and creative Tina Exarhos told TheWrap in an exclusive interview. "There's always a network that's offering something…So what we've really tried to do, without spending a huge amount of money, is continue to give the fans 'Teen Wolf' even when there's nothing on the channel."
Much of that responsibility falls on the shoulders of MTV's "social managers." Exarhos says the job could best be described as a modern day creative director. Social managers are primarily dedicated to one program. "Teen Wolf"--one of MTV's top two scripted shows (along with "Awkward") -- has one such social manager who almost exclusively focuses on the supernatural thriller.
Exarhos guestimates that nearly 80 percent of this particular social manager's workday is spent on engaging only the "Teen Wolf" audience, rewarding super fans and getting them to market the highly rated show for the network. That means working hand in hand with creator Jeff Davis and the show team.
Here's one of Exarhos favorite examples from the partnership:
A hundred days out from the season 3 premiere, the collaboration, along with a third-party vendor, created a 20,000 tile mosaic that when unlocked would reveal from new season premiere date along with a scene from the future episode. Fans were tasked with tweeting the hashtag #TeenWolfSeason3 to unlock one tile from the larger picture, which also affixed the user's avatar to the final image. The result was MTV generating over 18 million impressions, and viewers unlocking the entire puzzle in fewer than 24 hours. It was the second fastest (behind "The Dark Knight Rises") "unlock" in vendor history.
Another original idea at MTV creative was the May 20 debut of the network's first-ever "alternate ending" for a show promo to drum up conversation, and quite possibly, controversy.
Live-tweeting of episodes has become a staple for the cast, whom Exarhos says are very involved and open to filming exclusive content for the online presence and participating in contests for fans. A recent fan fiction competition run by the network generated more than 10,000 original works featuring characters from "Teen Wolf." Another contest for a walk-on role resulted in 3,400 entries, up 425 percent from the previous year.
MTV is also encouraging non-viewers to binge-view as a way of expanding audience. The network heavily promoted the fact that the entirety of the first two seasons were available online. Exarhos says that as long as the network gets clicks for that method of catch-up – if it's being viewed on MTV.com or one of its third party partners (such as Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, Xbox, xfinity.tv and all major MSOs via VOD)– there's no downside to fans choosing the online option.
The network is running a marathon of season 2 on Monday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. as another incentive to become part of the growing show.
The genre behind "Teen Wolf" is tailor-made for the social media space, where fans can choose whatever level of engagement they want.
"I think supernatural in and of itself lends itself to more fanatical audience support," Exarhos said. "[The audience is] very active and they want to know more and they're trying to figure out what is going to happen next. One of the things we talk about with this show in particular is 'more is more.' I'm always challenging the team and asking, 'Are we revealing too much, are we giving them too much content? At what point is it just overload?' I think our experience with this show in particular is that there's really never too much."
While MTV is pleased with the results of the bridge marketing strategy for "Teen Wolf," viewers who have not elected to participate in the online space are not missing key plot points or story arcs. It has mostly just been bonus content…for now. But don't ignore the possibility of more moving to the digital space, Exarhos said.
"Where we go in the future, maybe will look different. I think there [are] opportunities with our digital team to further the story week to week once we have launched."
Looking beyond the 8.3 million Twitter followers that @MTV itself boasts, the official Twitter handle for "Teen Wolf"has 265,000 followers. The show's Facebook page has 2.4 million. Those figures had increased by 41 percent and 33 percent respectively since August, 2012 – all while the show was off the air. During the same period, "Teen Wolf's" Tumblr presence jumped by 143 percent to 68,000 followers.
TheWrap has an exclusive first look at the "supertease" which will air after Monday evening's premiere. But you can watch it right now below: