Sleepy Hollow’s Success Story
With the advent of Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Youtube, fans of T.V. shows and movies have been able to create and share works based on their favorite shows and stories with unprecedented speed and to more people then ever before. While this is not news, the entertainment industry’s brilliant use of these fan populated arenas to promote shows, movies, and individual actors is a fashion that has only recently taken off.
While celebrities have owned twitter accounts and Facebook pages for some time, hoarding their million follower statuses like trophies, the emergence of actors and shows onto every platform available seems to be a recent occurrence. Take, for example, Sleepy Hollow.
Sleepy Hollow is a show from Fox in its first season. It features mostly unknown actors and no outright famous ones (unless John Cho is your guy and you’ve seen Harold & Kumar 100 times). While it had great buzz from the very beginning, the success of the show seemed to surprise the industry. Even more so then it’s initial success, its continued high ratings in the 18-to-49 demographic for viewing – a 4.9 once playback is accounted for – have beaten more established shows like Grey’s Anatomy and NCIS. This supernatural drama, Fox’s highest-rated fall drama premiere in six years, has already been renewed for a second season. All this begs the question: What is this show doing differently?
While the content and writing of this and every show is an integral part of its success, this show’s complete immersion into fan populated social media may be equally important in explaining its staying power and popularity. Sleepy Hollow has a Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Youtube channel. The buck doesn’t stop here though. The shows writers also have a twitter, as do the shows stars, Orlando Jones, Tom Mison, Katia Winter, Nicole Beharie and John Cho.
With so many avenues for communication and exposure more people are able to interact with the storyline and its creators then ever before! Its fascinating, fun, and addicting to be able to tweet Orlando Jones and have him answer you. You feel like part of the Sleepyhead community (the moniker the fan base goes by) and the show itself. You become more attached to the show, more dedicated to watching every week and convincing friends to watch it too. This is how strong fan bases are built. These interactions, both from social media, and the show, are also where fanfiction comes from. Here too the dynamic is changing.
While over the past few years actors and show creators have become more aware of some of the art produced by fans this was mostly due to reporters and late night hosts attempting to get a rise out of them with scandalous and sensitive drawings. Now we have actors searching out content on their own, acknowledging it, and even making some themselves. They are aware of the content being made on sites like Tumblr and have learned what “ship” and “slash” mean and have used these terms to further engage with their audience.
The most successful actor on Sleepy Hollow in terms of fan interaction is undoubtedly Orlando Jones. Mr. Jones doesn’t just interact with the fans, he is one. Using his Twitter and Tumblr Mr. Jones reposts artwork, fanfiction, meme’s, gifs, and any and all other material related to Sleepy Hollow or himself. He also posts other things he finds interesting, including other OTP’s he ships. Thats right, Orlando Jones is a shipper. On his twitter he has made reference and support to Destiel, (Dean and Cas from Supernatural) Olicity, (Olive and Felicity from Arrow) and Ichabbie (Ichabod and Abbie from Sleepy Hollow) to name a few.
His Tumblr page is as active as any T.V. addict. He reblogs anything he is tagged in, especially photoshopped inserts of his head onto other peoples bodies or in fake movie posters. He puts up loads of videos and gifs and seemingly whatever makes him laugh. Considering that he has only been on Tumblr for two months and already has 40 pages of content it is clear that he is making a huge effort to win over the fandom, and this has not gone unnoticed by the media. His tweets and tumbles have earned him an article on BuzzFeed, a mention on The Backlot, a Huffington Post article (which he wrote himself), an article from The Geekery, and a Vulture article as well.
Actors and creators like Orlando Jones want to promote their T.V. shows, their brands, and themselves. Fans want to interact with the people that make their favorite shows and act as inspiration for countless creative projects, ships, and OTPs. With social media platforms breaking the barrier separating these two groups and Sleepy Hollow’s great ratings it seems likely that this trend towards creator-fandom interaction will continue to grow. So if you haven’t yet made it over too Orlando Jones’ tumblr page, check it out. Chances are when you’re done you’ll be a Sleepyhead too, but there are worse things.