#MKR: A 101 to producing must-tweet TV

Three weeks into the 2014 ratings year ‘My Kitchen Rules’ (#MKR) has proven itself to be a hit both on TV and Twitter. The @Channel7 juggernaut generates a huge volume of Twitter conversation.

Let’s examine what it is that makes the #MKR format must-tweet TV. All season, the show has been a Twitter sensation, claiming approximately 75% of the conversation against rival reality shows. Given that its competitors are also showing impressive Twitter integrations it’s important to consider how #MKR’s success is actually baked into its production process. Here are three elements that make ‘My Kitchen Rules’ a Twitter hit:

1. PASSIONATE FANS
The biggest fans are on Twitter. Whether they’re a die-hard #Directioner or a super-charged #GoSwans supporter, Twitter is the destination to converse in real-time to find other fans, show support and express their passion.

The producers of #MKR have built fandom into the core of the production and as a result they generated huge volumes of conversation on Twitter. From the outset the audience are encouraged to back their local hero:

To make it even easier to pick your team, #MKR created and promoted on-air bespoke hashtags that summed up their characters in a way that was funny and engaging. Very quickly the audience championed their favourites by tweeting their support for the likes of the #Besties, the #Newlyweds, #TeamCheese or the #SAmums.

2. CHARACTERS
Casting is key to creating great drama, but it’s also key to creating great engagement on Twitter. This season of #MKR features some of its biggest characters yet, so to identify who was most engaging we measured the conversation around each teams’ ‘Instant Restaurant’ episode.

As you can see the most engaging team have been this year’s villains #Globetrotters Chloe & Kelly, who have provoked very strong opinions from the Twittersphere due to their comments directed towards other teams. When it was the ladies’ time to cook, fans gleefully started tweeting the hashtag #PaybackTime hoping to see them get their comeuppance. But then fan glee turned to outrage when Chloe & Kelly allegedly cheated — in an incident now known as #PastryGate — resulting in the most talked about episode of the series by far.

Other notable teams have been Jess & Felix whose overconfidence backfired spectacularly during the final ‘Instant Restaurant’ round. Despite criticising all the other teams during earlier episodes, they scored the lowest in the round with judge Pete describing it as “the worst dish I’ve had in the competition.” Jess & Felix were eliminated and Twitter cheered.

On the flip side, young best friends Thalia & Bianca created a very positive buzz on Twitter when they overcame the odds by scoring 85 points, beating their nearest competitors by more than 30 points. More satisfyingly, they did this while being berated by another popular villain David a.k.a ‘The Captain’ whose patronising comments fell flat as the #Besties triumphed.

Casting strong heroes and villains in your show is a sure-fire way to get the audience tweeting and is evident in other successful reality shows such as Big Brother. The @BBAU9 producer @AlexMavroidakis has since admitted that last year’s winner Tim was originally cast as the villain only for him to then undergo a transformation into the show’s most popular contestant. While divisive housemate Tully was easily the most-talked about contestant on Twitter, and even inspired a series of memes around her frequent tears on the show.

Speculation around whether your character is a hero or a villain can also increase engagement with the most famous recent example being #Schapelle, a telemovie about the infamous convicted drug smuggler. While the drama didn’t rate on TV as strongly as rival show #INXS, it still generated a massive amount of Twitter conversation due to how engaging the subject matter was.

3. FEEDBACK
One of the great strengths of the #MKR format is that throughout each episode a team receives feedback from the judges and other contestants, prompting the audience to tweet their reaction to this throughout the episode. A minute-by-minute analysis of #MKR demonstrates how Twitter conversation builds throughout the episode before culminating with a huge spike in conversation after the final score is revealed.

It should also be noted that last year the most tweeted moment in Australia was the announcement of Dami Im winning The X Factor Grand Final, demonstrating how Twitter is people’s first destination to react to an on-screen resolution.

All these elements reflect the increasing importance of considering Twitter as part of your TV development process. Since the launch of the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings (NTTR) in the USA, advertisers are now able to focus their dollars on shows that don’t just provide reach, but engagement, with studies now demonstrating how much more valuable an audience is when they’re tweeting about the show, it’s not difficult to see why.

The days of relying on your digital/social team to create engagement as an afterthought are long gone. If you want your next show to be the most talked about thing on television, it’s best you start thinking about “the social soundtrack” on Twitter from initial conception.