Wentworth Creates A Unique Social Experience For Fans With Facebook Messenger

Wentworth is a television drama hosted by Australia’s leading subscription TV network Foxtel. The award-winning drama series, first launched in 2013, is set in a women’s prison. Women aged 35 to 50-years-old are the engine for Wentworth’s ratings.

Available on: Messenger

Goal

For its fifth season, due to air in April 2017, Foxtel wanted Wentworth to be the top drama every week of the season.

Through their social media analysis, Foxtel found that fans would turn to social media to fuel anticipation after and in-between episodes. Recognising that social engagement was an integral part of the experience, the TV network turned to a social strategy to deepen fan engagement.

“The Rat became an essential part of Wentworth. Millions of Facebook impressions were generated by posts prompted by The Rat and the exclusive content they saw first in Messenger. Only Facebook Messenger could have provided this level of intimacy and engagement every single week as a cost-effective media channel in the face of ever-increasing competition among dramas.” - Gina McGrath, Head of Marketing: Entertainment Channels, Foxtel

Solution

Analysis of the show’s audience found that fans fed off each other to discuss crazy plot theories and character twists, fueling anticipation for the next episode.

The network and its media agency Mindshare decided to create an entirely new virtual character. ‘The Rat’, an anonymous inmate, smuggled out secrets, prison gossip and exclusive content to fans via a bot for Messenger. The Rat was intended to spark excitement, capture fan reaction and extend the conversation to ensure the audience tuned in to the next week’s installment.

Facebook posts on Wentworth page to create awareness for the bot

Dedicated photos, videos and GIFs were posted on the Wentworth page to drive discovery to the bot.

Using chatbot technology from AI messaging agency, On Message, the conversation platform used analytics from multiple providers to track and customise individual conversations that allowed the Rat’s personality to evolve as the series progressed.

Audience interaction with The Wentworth Rat Messenger bot

Wentworth fans embraced the Rat. It was their conduit, confidante and co-conspirator, providing them with an avenue to access sneak peaks of future episodes and polls on what could happen next. Fans would screen-shot conversations about juicy plot theories or previews of upcoming scenes, where they spread rapidly through Facebook and Instagram without any corresponding paid media.

Fans conversations on Wentworth Facebook post

Foxtel also leveraged other channels to to extend the social experience. Following each episode fans were invited to join a Facebook live-stream debrief in the ‘Interrogation Room’ where they could see each plot point, debate theories and acknowledge key fans.

The Rat’s unprecedented success resulted in the virtual and real worlds colliding. In a live interview on the red carpet at the Logies, Australia’s annual television awards show, three of Wentworth’s star actors were asked who was really behind The Rat.

The TV drama achieved its target of being the top show on Foxtel every week it aired, right through from premiere to finale of season five. Foxtel’s use of Messenger significantly increased time with brand: each user spent an average of 1 hour and nine minutes engaging with The Rat.


Results

Messenger fundamentally changed the Wentworth experience, and the innovative use of Messenger helped Foxtel achieve its goal of Wentworth being the No1 show every week from premiere to finale.

  • 2.2M
    message interactions
  • 97%
    average Messenger conversation completion rate
  • 3%
    lift in average audience size per episode, compared to previous season
  • 14,320
    hours of conversation (equivalent to 19 months) over 12 episodes

Facebook Products Used:

  • Messenger bot: To create a personalised social experience, engaging fans to tune in to the series weekly
  • Facebook Live: To engage and connect with the fans, providing a social experience across different channels