Social Media and Reality TV

It’s the height of summer, and so, obviously, social media is crammed full of reality TV stars in their bikinis, with their cute kids on the beach.

With the last episode of TOWIE Season 12 broadcast this week, the Essex beauties are still busy on Twitter, with the likes of Billie Faiers ( and Lauren Pope ( keeping us up to date with their social whirl.

When ITV Be kicks off this autumn, it’s likely to spark a social media storm, with TOWIE, Real Housewives, Dinner Dates and Millionaire Matchmakers among others, guaranteed to get us gossiping on Twitter and Facebook.

TOWIE is one of the most tweeted about programmes on Twitter – during one episode of Season 8 last year more than 207,000 tweets were sent.

Then there’s the Real Housewives franchise, which will also transfer to ITV Be when it launches in October.

Stars like Ramona Singer ( and NeNe Leakes ( chat constantly to their followers, share details of their lives, and occasionally spark the odd controversy which, of course, gets picked up by the press and increases their exposure. (

So why is this all good news for advertisers? Here are three key points:

· Sponsorship opportunities

An engaged audience loves to feel connected to the reality stars, and brands can tap into this in a number of ways. Surf’s award-winning sponsorship of TOWIE saw Joey Essex create a new fragrance for a limited-edition product, Summer D’Reem, which generated around £1.2 million in sales. This year, WKD identified TOWIE as the most talked-about programme on TV for its target audience, and played on the TOWIE theme with its sponsorship.

· Brands can join in the chat

If your target audience is talking about TOWIE, then you should be too… join in the conversation. Reality TV episodes are live, event television – you need to be there, in the right place, at the right time, engaging with your audience. Your brand needs to have an opinion on NeNe Leakes’ latest outburst or Billie Faiers’ post-baby body. Your opinions need to be genuine, not forced – and not overtly sales-based. Keep it real.

· Engagement leads to brand engagement which leads to conversion

Advertisers can take advantage of the hugely engaged, multi-screening audience, with interactive ads matching the programme ethos. Ann Summers launched a campaign in 2011, recruiting stars for their advert through a Facebook competition to find the Face of Ann Summers. They ran a series of teasers, finishing with a two-minute advert in the final episode of that season of TOWIE.

Written by Jenny Cornish