Bravo Television is arguably the most social-media-savvy network on television. Fans of Bravo shows such as the Real Housewives franchise and the cook-off show Around the World in 80 Plates don’t just watch these shows; they participate in them. Bravo has created a social media campaign that has turned traditional television on its head by allowing viewers to transform from passive spectators into active contributors. Its campaign works: in April, the network witnessed the most-watched season premiere in network history, making it the #1 cable network among adults.

Any company running a social media campaign aims to build a large, engaged following that is committed to its brand (and ultimately willing to buy its products). Bravo has managed to do this extremely well. Yes, it has a huge budget and attractive celebs to its advantage, but a company doesn’t need attractive celebrity chefs, late night talk shows, or crazy housewives to get noticed on Twitter. Any Twitter user can successfully and effectively adopt many of the strategies Bravo uses.

Here are the things Bravo does to garner followers and generate some serious social media buzz:

#1 Bravo uses an attractive and eye-catching Twitter background and heading.

Below is a screenshot of Bravo’s Twitter heading. As you can see, it features a bright color that pops. The images of the men and women in the header also stand out. On the right side are the women of the Real Housewives of New Jersey and on the left is celebrity chef and host of Around the World in 80 Plates, Curtis Stone, standing next to Bravo’s Executive Vice President of Development and Talent, Andy Cohen. Studies have shown that ads featuring images of happy, free women who are looking directly at a camera convert best, so the Real Housewives of New Jersey work well as the face of Bravo’s Twitter page. And when it comes to the oh-so-handsome Curtis Stone, 61% of Bravo’s viewers are women. (And the rest are gay men.) Enough said.

Takeaway: A picture of a charismatic Australian chef doesn’t make sense for every company, but bright colors and attention-grabbing images do.

#2 Bravo uses hashtags.

Bravo uses a standard hashtag any time it tweets about a particular show: for the Real Housewives of New York, it uses #RHONY, for Bethenny Ever After, it uses #Bethenny. These various hashtags are featured in the center of the Twitter page in bold, blocked lettering. Bravo encourages followers to use these when tweeting about shows. Hashtags can sometimes be confusing (if you ever look at Twitter’s Trending Topics, you’ll know that new ones crop up every hour), plus Bravo has multiple shows on its network, so giving Twitter users direction by including a mini hashtag word bank right in the header is an excellent idea. Also, hashtags allow fans to engage and converse with others who are using that same tag, because they serve as conversation starters.

They also allow Bravo to keep its finger on the Twitter pulse by making it easy to monitor conversations and keep tabs on what people are saying about specific shows. Typing a hashtag into the Twitter search query brings up all of the tweets featuring that hashtag.

Takeaway: Hashtags are a great tool for branding and conversing with followers.

#3 Bravo stays active on Twitter.

Bravo tweets consistently. It also mixes up the type of tweets it sends out, so they never seem redundant. The network live tweets episodes as well, which allows it to capitalize on the time-sensitive nature of Twitter. Trends come and go, so by live tweeting, Bravo grabs people’s attention at the key time: when the shows on the network are relevant.

Takeaway: An active Twitter account is a successful Twitter account, and a great time to tweet about certain topics is when these topics are current, newsworthy, and buzz-worthy.

#4 Bravo interacts with followers.

Bravo retweets followers:


It live tweets questions that ask for opinions:


And offers humorous live tweet commentary:


Twitter is all about conversation: talking with other people, sharing opinions, sharing humor. By engaging followers, Bravo creates a community through which people can converse about their favorite shows, voice their viewpoints, and poke fun at the crazy antics some cast members engage in. This community of followers is what sustains Bravo’s Twitter campaign.

Takeaway: Get social! Interact with followers: retweet, reply back, ask questions (questions that can be answered in one word are best), use fill-in-the-blanks, share jokes.

#5 Bravo is creative.

Bravo is an innovator when it comes to unique and creative social media efforts. A few of the things the network has done to increase viewers and up fan participation:

  • Around the World in 80 Plates Tweet Challenge- this challenge gives people a chance to win tickets to destinations featured on the show (which are some pretty exotic places like Barcelona and Buenos Aires).
  • Tweet Tracker- the Tweet Tracker categorizes tweets by TV shows. When people go on to Bravo’s website, they can choose from any one of Bravo’s shows and view in real-time all of the tweets that have been sent out about that show.
  • Viggle- this is an app that allows people to “check into” their favorite show and earn points, which they can eventually redeem for prizes. Bravo offers viewers the chance to win gift cards through Viggle
  • Social Edition Episodes- Bravo curates the reactions and comments from fans, bloggers, and cast members during premiere airings. They then air an encore episode during which the best comments pop up at the bottom of the television screen.

Takeaway: Offering original giveaways, deals, coupons, and promos is a great way to cultivate fan participation.

More evidence that Bravo’s strategies work: in April, Bravo delivered the highest-rated Real Housewives reunion episode in franchise history. It was also the #1 network in social media activity.

Social media marketing can (and has) worked for many industries. Bravo is part of the media industry, but its campaign strategies have universal application. Who knew that we could learn a thing or two from a network whose shows (in which rich housewives flip tables and fight with party planners ) don’t exactly bring to mind the words “intellectually stimulating?”

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