Social elements figured prominently in the launch of many television shows this fall, and now the USA Network is going further by launching #HashtagKiller, an ‘interactive social media mystery game’ to go along with the hit show ‘Psych’. The goal? To provide a new outlet for engaging Psych’s highly active social media fans – the show’s Facebook page already has nearly 2 million ‘likes’.
How the social game works:
- launched last Wednesday, the game will unfold online over the next 6 weeks
- it takes place on the Web using Facebook’s Open Graph API
- to get started, users can visit hashtagkiller.com and sign up using Facebook
- players can log into HashtagKiller.com to get more clues, messages, and try to solve the case as new content is posted each week
- the writers of Psych prepared a script specifically for the game (rather than attempting to adapt the TV screenplay to a social media outlet)
- video clips with the cast that are unrolled each week that are designed to “mimic the look and feel of the show”
- players look at online elements including puzzles, clues and Facebook messages between series leads Shawn and Gus
According to Mashable, the game provides ‘a fully integrated social TV experience’ for users.
How eager were Psych’s social TV fans to move into social gaming?
- in the first 12 hours, more than 13,000 unique visitors visited HashtagKiller.com
- 10,000 of those visitors signed up for the game
- the website fielded over 6,000 requests a minute at its peak on Wednesday afternoon
- the average user spent more than 12 and a half minutes on the site
- 22% of visitors returned at least once within the first 12 hours
The results are impressive, showing that USA knows its audience, particularly since the only promotion for the game was through social networks. Of course, response of this magnitude is also due to USA Network’s previous social TV efforts, including releasing a second-screen social app for the show, and their popular social TV chat feature Character Chatter, which recently integrated with Facebook.
The show also keeps Facebook fans engaged with regular posts and special events, including a special Fan Appreciation Day for Pysch fans in NYC, where attendees can see this season’s premiere episode before it actually airs on TV. The event will include interviews with the writers, cast and crew; answers to questions from fans online and at the event; and will be livestreamed by the network (not including the actual premiere episode). Just one post about this event on Facebook received 820 likes, 21 shares, and 62 comments.
Would a similar move to social gaming work with shows that have a less socially inclined audience? According to Mashable’s interview with Jesse Redniss, USA Network’s VP of digital, platforms like Character Chatter and an active presence on social networks will hopefully help to”graduate” other USA shows “to a more social atmosphere.”