7 social media lessons from ‘Pretty Little Liars’

“Pretty Little Liars” fans have finally met their endgame.

On Tuesday, the series finale concluded the seven-year-run of what
has been called
“the most social show on TV”—and one of the first series to usher in the era of tweeting along with
your favorite television shows.

Its second season finale generated
the most social media buzz of any series in TV history at the time, and last year’s episodes generated more than
a quarter of a billion engagements across social platforms.

Here are seven lessons “Pretty Little Liars” can offer PR pros looking to
develop their own social media campaigns:

1. Begin with your endgame in mind.

As the show moved to reveal its ultimate antagonist, “A.D.,” the final
episodes were dubbed #PLLEndGame. Clues from episodes that aired years ago
suddenly fell into place in a very calculated way.

The final arc showed that the show’s writers established its conclusion—or
endgame—for some time ago, and have been strategically building towards it
with each season.

Do the same with your social media campaigns by carefully thinking through
what success might look like long before you write a single tweet or
Facebook post.

Keeping the endgame of your campaign in mind at all times will enable you
to take a more strategic approach to every aspect of the campaign and help
you achieve your ultimate PR goals.

2. Familiarity breeds success.

#PLLEndGame rewarded viewers who have been loyal fans of the show for years
by bringing back characters, locations and plotlines that had not been seen
for several seasons.

Likewise, the people who follow your brand on social media are often your
biggest advocates. You have a unique opportunity to design campaigns that
enable you to leverage this loyalty such as
Coca-Cola’s #CokeJourney campaign.

Just as the writers of “Pretty Little Liars” engaged with loyal fans since
the show’s begining, you can use the familiarity that social media provides
to develop relationships with consumers that can last a lifetime.

3. Don’t forget the element of surprise.

#PLLEndGame delivered shocking moments, such as revealing Mary Drake as
Spencer Hasting’s mother and unveiling that Mona Vanderwaal killed
Charlotte Drake. These moments mirrored the bombshell plot twists that
pushed the series to the top of the social media stratosphere years ago.

Similarly, the element of surprise can also go a long way in your social
media campaigns, especially as your brand seeks to stand out in
increasingly crowded timelines.

Brand managers can employ several tactics to disrupt the status quo and
turn the attention of a conversation toward them, including
the snark that earned Wendy’s its beloved place among younger consumers.


Refresh your social media strategy so you can react on the fly

4. Listen to fan feedback.

Social media offers the ability to monitor the feedback your campaign is
generating in real time, and “Pretty Little Liars’” writers consistently
used online feedback to influence future storylines on the show.

For example, fans’ strong reactions to the relationship between characters Alison DiLaurentis and Emily Fields moved the show’s
creator, I. Marlene King, to make their pairing a central focus of

The ever-changing nature of “Pretty Little Liars” can underline the
importance of being dynamic in a social media campaign. By listening to
comments, reactions and other feedback, you can correct the course of your
campaign to ensure you reach your goals.

5. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith.

By the middle of the series, “Pretty Little Liars” started to feel stale,
and many of the show’s relationships and mysteries had run their courses.
To address this, writers moved the show’s timeline five years into the
future, which injected the series with newfound creativity and excitement.

Fatigue can be common when managing a social media campaign over a long
period of time, and you might write posts ad nauseam.

“Pretty Little Liars’” #5YearsLater time jump is a valuable reminder that
you should never stick to what is familiar because it’s what you’ve always
done. Instead, try new ideas that can capture consumers’ attention and
restore social media magic to your campaign.

6. Engage fans at multiple touchpoints.

“Pretty Little Liars” creators used a several touchpoints to keep fans
engaged. Throughout the series, viewers used the #PLLChat hashtag to talk
with cast and crew members as episodes aired. The show has a vibrant
presence on social platforms, including Tumblr blogs dedicated to
deconstructing the mysteries of #PLLEndGame, a PLL Snapchat that offers
fans behind-the-scenes peeks and a portal on Wish that invites viewers to
take polls.

Outstanding social media campaigns do not rely solely on one platform.
Instead, savvy brand managers reach out to audiences at every possible

7. Always bring your “A” game.

As a PR pro, the most important way to ensure a successful social media
campaign is to do your best work on every project, for every client, every
single time.

Not all campaigns you devise will be the rousing successes, just as some
seasons of “Pretty Little Liars” are favored over others. However,
putting your best foot forward and focusing on crafting exceptional work ensures that at your career’s
endgame, you’ll take several PR wins with you.

Drew Boehmker is an account executive at
Scooter Media.

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