What started as a simple poll on Twitter became a wildly successful event both on and off the platform. It turns out that with a little planning, some strategic promotions and the right call to action, when you ask the right question, you can generate more than a hundred million votes on Twitter.
That’s what MTV did this summer with its MTV UK’s Hottest Summer Superstars campaign.
A call to action
MTV UK kicked off its global campaign on air during a show called Hottest Summer Superstar, which was designed around announcing the campaign. Throughout the five-hour show, which aired July 20, @MTVUK promoted the #MTVHottest hashtag and announced that fans could vote exclusively on Twitter with their pick for the hottest artist of the summer. Voting began that day and ended on August 18. Results were revealed on air during the August 31 countdown show, on which the #MTVHottest winner was crowned.
The #MTVHottest call to action was simple, which contributed directly to its success. MTV UK first set the scene during its Hottest Summer Superstar show when it aired a pre-populated list of the 50 biggest pop artists of 2013. Fans were encouraged to tweet their picks from the list using the hashtag #MTVHottest, and there were no limits to how often they could vote. At the end of the show, MTV announced that the winner would be revealed in a results show on August 31.
#MTVHottest was successful, in large part, because its call to action was simple.
MTV knew just what to say to encourage fans to tweet their vote:
While the show aired only in the UK, on Twitter the vote went viral.
Click image to explore interactive animation. Map created with CartoDB.
This visualization illustrates the amount of activity and volume of Tweets for the top 5 stars coming from fans around the globe in the race to move their chosen pop stars to number one.
While the event was first announced on air, the Twitter vote for #MTVHottest continued throughout the month as a promotional campaign across multiple platforms: on screen during several UK MTV broadcasts, online and on Twitter. Momentum grew across all platforms used.
The initial spark during Hottest Summer Superstar was fanned during additional MTV shows and videos using on-screen graphics like the one below, displayed during Conor Maynard’s video. Because the #MTVHottest call to action was simple, it served as a quick reminder to vote and could be communicated quickly and subtly to MTV viewers throughout MTV UK’s programming schedule.
Another key to success was creating a site on MTV.co.uk that visualized live Twitter activity around the poll. Using social media data provider Mass Relevance to provide the #MTVHottest count and their own in-house web design team, MTV UK visualized the results of the Twitter votes in real time. The top 50 stars chosen for the vote were displayed together on a webpage — http://www.mtv.co.uk/hottest — that refreshed every 30 seconds to reveal an updated vote count. As well as presenting the count totals in a dynamic leaderboard, the artists receiving a high volume of Tweets at any given time would be highlighted as being “hot right now” to spur the competition and encourage fans to turn up the heat on their own tweeting.
The TV activity and Hottest Summer Superstar website were strong drivers of Twitter activity, but it was the Tweets themselves that cemented the success of the #MTVHottest campaign. @MTVUK engaged with the stars and influencers, and pushed the passionate fan base into voting again and again.
@MTVUK and other station accounts actively tweeted about the event throughout, but to avoid flooding these accounts @MTVHottestLive was set up to do the bulk of the promotion and response to fans — gathering over 80K followers in little over a month.
The stars themselves got involved too:
You guys! I’m so humbled by all of your votes for #mtvhottest! Thank u soo much for the luv and support!— Nicole Scherzinger ( @NicoleScherzy) August 9, 2013
British boy band Union J actively engaged with fans, asking them to retweet to vote:
Every RETWEET counts as a vote…..so retweet this like you’ve never retweeted something before lol! #MTVhottest Union J— Union J ( @UnionJworld) July 21, 2013
Even @OneDirection knew they weren’t going to keep the top spot without keeping the fans engaged and active in the polls:
Acts like the Script publicly revelled in the trending through #MTVHottest activity:
Finally, MTV UK announced the winner live during its August 31 awards show, followed by an announcement on Twitter:
MTV UK also gave a shoutout to the runner-up for a well-fought fan campaign…
…which brought a show of good grace from Beliebers:
Justin may have lost #MTVHottest,but beliebers it was just a poll.At least we tried!?☺???????Congrats to One direction and directioners!!!!— ( @XOJBIIEBERXO) August 31, 2013
MTV’s Dan Patton, Vice President of Digital Media for the UK and Australia, observes that “Twitter is a great platform to help amplify social media moments in our TV programming, bringing fans and artists closer together and driving ratings — as well as interactions such as voting. Following on from MTV Stars of 2012 and of course the shining examples of the MTV EMA and VMA, MTV’s Hottest Summer Superstar is the latest in a regular series of UK music programming stunts and it’s the first time (in the UK) that we have visualized the Tweets both on air as well as online using an artist leaderboard, which proved to be insanely popular. The Tweet volume caused by the passionate engagement of both fans and artists has been truly astonishing and brought with it a ratings uplift on all platforms.”
Have you seen other innovative uses of Twitter? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.