Forget viewers flopping down on the couch, flicking on the television and passively watching their favourite shows. These days, consumers interact with their television content using social media and digital integration, meaning digital strategy and social television is going to be important to expand the reach of programs. Let’s look at VH1’s Single Ladies online contest and the impact it had on the show and viewers.

VH1 and Invoke created the Facebook Single and Liking It memelabs photo contest to create some early buzz. The contest linked thematically with VH1’s new program, Single Ladies. Prior to the show starting, people were able to submit a photo of themselves and their girlfriends out on the town — the submission with the most votes won a trip to NYC with three friends. The contest ran through the launch and several episodes of the show. The responses was phenomenal — the day after the show aired for the first time there were nearly 500 entries.

The Facebook application included a gallery of images, an interactive map tracking cities with the most entries, and sharing features.  There were many touch points where VH1 could place an emphasis on call to actions asking people to watch the show, vote on submissions, come back daily, and share with friends. After a user voted on a submission, an opportunity to post a message to their Facebook wall appeared. Users could share on Facebook, by email, on Twitter, on bookmarking sites should as Digg and Delicious, and more.

The contest went live about one month before the television show premiered and ended June 22. Before the TV show even started fans submitted more than 1,000 photos.

The TV show premiered May 30, 2011 and on June 1 there were more than 450 new photo submissions, the largest number of submissions in a 24 hour period. The VH1 Facebook page jumped to 5,000 visits per day, up from 700 visits per day. The number of comments and votes increased and average time on site increased to more than four minutes. Even the bounce rate lowered with only 54 per cent of visitors immediately leaving the site. The numbers show a direct correlation of fans watching the show and then interacting with the brand online.

Television fans are already using tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums and bookmarking sites on their phones and on their laptops to talk about what they love. The opportunity to engage that audience in the online space is vast and there are multiple ways to look at how television and digital can integrate.

How can television shows intrigue their audiences and capture their attention with relevant and compelling online content? Let us know.