By James Loveridge, Director of Entertainment at Little DotStudios
The Graham Norton Show is a mainstay of Friday night television. The format hasn’t changed since it first aired in February 2007 and while launching after YouTube and Facebook, the show wasn’t built with social media in mind. But that hasn’t stopped it achieving over 100m views across YouTube, Facebook and TikTok over the last month, with over 60% of the digital audience under 34 years of age
So how does a legacy brand engage on social while remaining relevant and true to the brand? By fully embracing the unique opportunities that social videos present and leaning into creating fun and engaging content. In working with So Television across multiple platforms since 2014, we’ve brought the chat show to new audiences online developing a better understanding of how to build a holistic digital strategy and more importantly, an engaged superfan community.
It’s well known that younger audiences are consuming content on non-traditional platforms, therefore it has never been more important for brands to be fully engaged and active on social.
Whilst converting a legacy brand to the fast-paced, often reactionary, landscape of social media might be intimidating, it’s possible to achieve this without losing any of the brand identity. And if done correctly, you can develop a whole new community and language around the brand.
The first step is to understand the brand and its content; what makes the brand special? If a brand has heritage, it is because it has something that captures people’s interest. You need to become a superfan yourself – find that hook and a way to convert that magic to social.
The key thing when building a legacy brand on social, is that you need to understand two unique languages. The language of the audience on each platform and the language of the corresponding algorithms.
The language of the audience is about understanding how people interact with brands on social media. What is the content people like, share and even create themselves? With YouTube being a place where people watch longer form content, we need to create thematic compilations focusing on what’s culturally relevant to draw in and nurture that following. To build an audience, utilise functions like the Community Tab, where you can create gifs, polls, images and areas for the fans to engage with more than just videos. This also gives the creative freedom to create fun pieces in the same language that the community uses to interact with each other.
Fans like to engage with other fans. You can lean into this on Facebook with the creation of Groups, alongside the official pages. Whilst smaller in numbers, those in the Groups are the absolute superfans; this can be a great incubator for content where you can build momentum and index higher in the algorithm. Platforms like TikTok allow people to create their own content from audio and reaction videos that have been uploaded – leaning into these can allow for viral moments.
The language of the algorithm is about understanding how each platform serves content and which approach will maximise organic reach. You may be working with the same piece of content across multiple platforms, it’s therefore important to understand that each platform behaves differently and they all require a bespoke strategy.
Research shows the average Facebook user will scroll through the equivalent height of Big Ben in their homepage per week, to grab someone’s attention you need to cut the content in a way that sparks interest whilst holding the phone vertically and without sound; as this is the most common way users will discover your content.
Another quirk of Facebook is the frequency. On YouTube the premium upload cadence can be anywhere between three to five pieces of content a week, depending on audience behaviour. However, with Facebook, you’d typically post three to five times a day. The algorithm demands hyper active communities so there’s a need to create incredibly active Fan Pages and Groups.
The benefit of social media not only allows you to build your brand where the younger audiences are but there is also a huge amount of creative freedom in doing so.
These platforms are a fast-moving space and the best practices above will naturally evolve, as evident with the current pivot to vertical short form in the growth of TikTok, YouTube Shorts and Facebook Reels. That said, this shouldn’t be a deterrent as with each innovation and change on the platform, creates a new opportunity for a brand to engage with new audiences and reach superfans.