13 TV shows that became massive because of social media

Empire social mediaJames Dimmock/FOX‘Empire’ tops the ratings and the social-media game.

Watching TV has never been as interactive as it is today.

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have become what we’re really talking about when we use the phrase “word of mouth.”

And then there’s the real-time nature of social media. If a show is working right, there’s almost no way to avoid the blur of tweets reacting to what’s happening. Chalk it up to FOMO (fear of missing out), but people want to be part of the action.

This live audience is what networks are craving most in the era of DVR, online, and other forms of delayed viewing. Having a strong social-media following can mean the difference between 100 episodes and 10 these days.

By taking into account research provided by Amobee Brand Intelligence, Nielsen’s Twitter TV ratings, as well as regular TV ratings, Business Insider has chosen the shows that are both taking advantage of and reaping the most benefits from social media.

Here are 13 programs whose social-media game is winning:

'Dancing with the Stars' (ABC)

ABC/Adam Taylor

While other reality competitions have been seeing their ratings drop, 'Dancing with the Stars' has been innovating and making changes that are keeping its fans engaged.

'Scream Queens' (Fox)

Hilary Gayle/FOX

'Scream Queens' got the most marketing dollars of all of Fox's shows this fall and it's getting the rewards. Its premiere episode earned the most tweets of any program on Tuesday, September 22, even though ABC's 'The Muppets' beat it in the Nielsen ratings. And as the show has progressed, fans are still very much engaged.

'How to Get Away with Murder' (ABC)

ABC/Tony Rivetti
'How To Get Away with Murder,' starring Emmy winner Viola Davis, returns from its winter break.

Taking a page from sister Shonda Rhimes drama 'Scandal,' 'How to Get Away with Murder' had a strong social-media presence from its beginning -- even if it clashed with viewers over hashtags #HowtoGetAwayWithMurder and #HTGAWM.

'Grey's Anatomy' (ABC)

ABC/Mitchell Haaseth

'Grey's' has done a very good job of jumping into social media early and continuing throughout the years. And its cast is very active on social media. When something huge goes down, its viewers take over Twitter.

'The Voice' (NBC)

Trae Patton/NBC

Social media is probably what kept 'The Voice' afloat as other singing competitions sank. 'The X Factor' is no more. And 'American Idol' is going into its final season next year after its ratings dropped.

'Doctor Who' (BBC America)

BBC America

'Doctor Who' was destined to become a social-media hit. But BBC America didn't rest on its laurels. It saw the possibility of fostering that potential first via Tumblr and then via Twitter, Vine, and Pinterest.

'Pretty Little Liars' (Freeform)

Freeform

From live tweets with its stars to breaking news via Instagram, 'Pretty Little Liars' has ruled the social-media game. It's ranked either No. 1 or 2 among TV shows on social-media platforms ranging from Twitter to Pinterest and Facebook. What's most impressive is that the show keeps its engagement high with fans in between seasons and hiatuses while other shows are just figuring out how to do that while the season is airing.

'Scandal' (ABC)

ABC/Eric McCandless

Of all the Shonda Rhimes shows, 'Scandal' wears the social-media crown. What's funny is that the show had aired its curtailed seven-episode first season to very little fanfare. Then in its second season, the show took off. Why? It doubled down on the social-media presence with lots of interaction between the show and fans, as well as live tweets with the stars during the episodes.

'American Horror Story: Hotel' (FX)

FX

'American Horror Story' is the kind of show that's made for social media. It's over-the-top, provocative, bloody, sexy, captivating, and frightening -- all things that fans want to share in the moment. No wonder it's always at the top of social-media lists. And its co-creator, Ryan Murphy, loves to break news and castings via Twitter.

'Game of Thrones' (HBO)

HBO

One of the biggest shows on TV, 'Game of Thrones' naturally inspires lots of social-media attention. But HBO takes a twisted approach to its social media, using it to tease and annoy its fans. The most recent example of this? A poster with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) on it.

'The Bachelor' (ABC)

ABC

With 19 seasons under its belt, 'The Bachelor' has had to transition from a pre-social media world, and it has done so swimmingly. Still counted as one of the most social shows on TV, much of its success revolves around keeping its fans on their toes with curveballs, allowing social media to shape the show, and making fans feel heard.

'The Walking Dead' (AMC)

Gene Page / AMC

What better way to ignite your social-media game than by killing and bringing back a beloved character? 'The Walking Dead' rules social media by being very active on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It doesn't hurt to post a thank-you to viewers once in a while either.

'Empire' (Fox)

Chuck Hodes/Fox

'Empire' dominates both TV ratings and the social-media rankings. They're intricately linked. The best part is that word of mouth aka social media helped 'Empire' improve on its own ratings each week, the first show to do so in 23 years. The best part of 'Empire's' social-media success is how its cast reaped the benefits in followers.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.