Eastenders' Lucy Beale & The Perfect Social Murder
Kitcatt Nohr Planner Jacob Lovewell discusses the social media build up to the massive reveal
The ten-month build up to reveal the killer of Lucy Beale was the most ambitious storyline ever embarked upon by the soap, with the entire week featuring live elements before a completely live episode on Friday. While the actors and writers were the true stars of the imaginatively named Live Week, the programme’s use of social media was a textbook example.
Live Week on EastEnders was a brilliant illustration of how to harness social as a utility. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably driven round the bend when hashtags invade the television screen; they’re distracting, annoying, and frequently rather cringeworthy.
EastEnders, however, managed to find an engaging way of integrating the hashtag within the programme as a utility. Every time the show seamlessly crossed to a live scene, the words “#EELive” would gently appear on the top corner of the screen. To all watching, it was a subtle and useful indicator that the scene was live; but to those who chose to engage online, it was a brilliant way of ensuring conversations were aggregated.
And it certainly worked. Over 10 million people watched the climax of the storyline, with #EELive trending the entire week on Twitter. EastEnders was able to curate momentum behind the event, allowing viewers to communicate not only with each other, but also to the actors after the show.
While the official @bbceastenders Twitter profile curated some decent countdown content each day, the true brilliance came through from the creativity of the viewers. This was perfectly harnessed in planned – and unplanned – events. Take, for instance, the arrest of Dot Cotton. Within minutes there were memes that were both amusing and confusing, as well as a campaign to #3Dot.
Then there were the unplanned elements. The moment Tanya accidentally referred to a character by his real name was viral gold – and ‘#HowsAdam’ flooded Twitter and Vine.
On their personal Twitter profiles the actors engaged with this, lending a genuine sentiment of fun and community. In true BBC spirit, the official EastEnders profile remained classy, only posting content that viewers would find interesting – behind the scenes images and teasers.
EastEnders’ use of social has taught me a lot. It’s proven that if used correctly – both as a utility on-screen and an aggregator online – it can perpetuate real interest and occasion. Releasing some control and having a sense of humour when things go slightly awry was also evidenced excellently, as well as how to best react.
How nice that we can all take something positive away from a murder that happened only a couple of Tube stops away from Kitcatt Nohr’s offices. Well, maybe not everyone – one teenager in America was slightly confused as to why she was getting blamed for killing Lucy #SharingYourNameWithAKiller