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Gleeking Out on Social Media

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Fox takes to MySpace to engage Glee’s passionate community of fans.

If you hear your neighbor belting out in song on Tuesday nights, it probably means they are one of the many who have been hooked by the Fox TV show, Glee. The series has developed a loyal group of fans who call themselves “Gleeks,” and these people just can’t get enough of the catchy songs and teen soap drama.

To coincide with the return of the show’s remaining nine episodes after its brief hiatus, Fox has taken to social media to continue the buzz for the popular series and create online experiences for fans and non-fans alike to engage with the show and show off their singing talents.

For all the fans who sing along each week, MySpace has been hosting online Glee auditions for roles in the next season. Gleeks around the country aged 16 – 26 can upload videos from their webcams showing off their singing abilities and explaining to the world why they should be cast in the next season of the series. Even if you’re not interested in putting an audition out there for all to see, you can still comment and give out “gold stars” to your favorite entries.

While you may not have the skills to be the next member of the New Directions glee club, you can still release your inner Gleek and sing along with the cast on your iPhone or iPad. The newly released Glee app actually helps correct your pitch and allows you to harmonize with yourself, so even the vocally challenged can lay down a track that will blow away their Saturday night karaoke performances (although I don’t think all the technology in the world could make me sound like I’m singing in key). The best part is that you can share your recorded performances with friends on Facebook, Twitter and app users can even join in on tracks recorded by others around the world – because I know we’ve all dreamed of a worldwide sing-along of “Rehab.”

Besides these more innovative initiatives, Fox has also done a great job of maintaining active presences on both Facebook and Twitter. In addition to featuring the show itself, many of the characters have their own profiles on the social networking sites. So if you don’t get enough of Sue Sylvester’s witty barbs each week, you can follow her on Twitter to learn what she is up to in between episodes. Fox even launched a novel interactive trailer for the second half of the season that allowed the watcher to become fans of each individual character on Facebook by clicking on the faces that pop up at the bottom of the preview.

Glee interactive trailer
Glee took its trailer to new levels by encouraging interaction via Facebook.

In creating their social media architecture, Fox has followed the steps to developing a successful strategy as laid out in 360i’s Social Marketing Playbook. First off, all these experiences meet what we presume is the show’s overall objective within social — to foster experiences that entertain and connect both the Gleeks and more casual fans. All of these initiatives leverage Glee’s assets, which are the show’s memorable songs, characters and video highlights, while abiding by the rules of the road for each of the social platforms utilized.

The final and arguably most important aspect is the value exchange that these allow to take place, whether it’s the chance to audition for the next season or just sing along with fans around the world on their iPhones. Fox has provided a wealth of value for fans that engages them across the social landscape and gives them something worth sharing with their network of peers on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Nowadays, a TV show truly has the opportunity go beyond the four walls to reach its audience online, as long as marketers “Don’t Stop Believin’’” in the opportunities that social media can offer them.

-Matt Hirsch, Digital Publicist at 360i