How did these get started, and what purpose do they serve?
I had the pleasure of asking some of the folks from "Fringenuity" those questions:
Q: What is "Fringenuity," and how did you get started?
Fringenuity is the term we came up with to describe this sort of Fringe fan “hive mind” (*giggle*) that exists on Twitter. Fringe is such an exceptional show – its fans are exceptional people. They're smart, motivated, and extremely passionate, and they've spent the last couple of years evolving into this community that feels like a giant international family. Part of the bond is that many of us have worked to promote Fringe for a long time, but it was more loosely organized.
When the ratings started to fall again at the beginning of Season 4, some of us started trying to figure out what more we could do to help. We started talking on Twitter and having ad hoc meetings on Skype.
I took some of the ideas we came up with and wrote an article on overcoming Nielsen invisibility.
The article got some attention and we realized that there was a lot of interest in getting more actively involved with promotion, and shortly after that we organized our first campaign to support the sponsors who advertised during the commercial breaks. Dennis started doing these wonderful compilation videos of all the commercials played during the episodes, and people started tweeting the sponsors. :D
Over the winter hiatus we decided to try and pick back up with the trend campaigns started by The Fringe Network, and added Get Glue check ins to the strategy. The feeling was that there were all these people who wanted to help, they just needed a focus, so Aimee, Kelly and I decided to attempt to lead and see if anyone would follow. And they did. We trended #crosstheline, and took the number one spot on the GetGlue trend list. So we started planning our next move, and decided that we needed a name, and a base of operations. We chose “Fringenuity” in an attempt to express all the creative tenacity we'd seen among the fandom in supporting the show.
It is about looking for ingenious and creative ways to support and celebrate Fringe using the unified efforts of fandom to bring attention to the show and let the network, the studio, and advertisers and sponsors alike know there is a substantial audience for Fringe.
We really got started by chance through a Skype session where we were sharing our excitement about the return of the show from hiatus. We identified a need to rally viewers and attention. The TCAs just occurred and there was all this swirl about Fringe's future.
We knew we wanted to generate interest through social media. There are a host of ideas we'd like to see implemented and Fringies have submitted some great ones. We want to keep the fandom engaged but we also needed to become more savvy with social media.
We picked the first hash tag to reflect what we felt was the sentiment of Fringies for what they would do for the show and also asked each other whether we would be ready to do so ourselves in coordinating Fringenuity activities. We did not want this to be a one time deal but we knew this was going to consume a lot of our private time because we also wanted a sustainable effort.
There was uncertainty as to whether just the few of us could rally enough support from the fandom on Twitter to make this happen. It required some clarifications the first time to help people understand the science of trending. The key was organization.
I think it worked because we started with a wonderful core group that was aligned in vision, mission, and philosophy.
To really explain how this all came to be, I think that you have go back more than a year. When I first joined the internet fandom, I often interacted on a Fringe fan forum with @fringeship. In November 2010, there was a call for fans to help trend #Fringe on Twitter. Now, I had once sworn that I’d never tweet. I once thought Twitter was for narcissistic people. But I was at a point in which I’d do whatever would help Fringe. It wasn’t long before @fringeship joined Twitter as well.
I “met” @birdandbear via Facebook shortly after the Fringe move to Friday announcement was made. I joined her effort to dress up as a Fringe character and go out into a public space to talk about the show. The idea was to have many people doing this. Well, it ended up being just me and her in our respective communities. So, our first campaign was not so much a success. But every failure is a learning experience. Even more so than the victories.
We all found an outstanding fan community via Twitter. Soon we became part of Fringe Network’s Friday “Twitter Force,” tasked with engaging potential viewers one-on-one in order to remind them to watch Fringe. I want to give a salute to the venerable Fringe Network. We learned so much from them, and really they are the grand-daddy of Fringenuity.
The three of us have always been virtual fighters for the show we love. The joke among us is that we’re “quantum-entangled,” because we often type out the same ideas or thoughts to each other at the same time. There had been a lull in fan activity for Fringe, and we decided to discuss it one evening while shooting the breeze on Skype. Little did we know that session would turn into something far more. Before we knew it, we were researching Twitter trending mechanics and pulling together resources to see if we could make a go out of trending a hashtag for Fringe. The tag #CrossTheLine was initially chosen, and the rest is fandom history.
Since the event was successful, we decided to do one every single week that Fringe has aired this year. Fringenuity was born from a fan blog, as a rallying point for Fringe fan social media efforts.
We were looking for ingenious solutions to what we refer to as “Nielsen invisibility.”
And we recently developed a relationship with @dalliel as we all have similar goals and philosophies concerning Fringe and how best to promote the show and engage the fandom.
"Fringenuity" to me is the international Fringe fandom working together to enjoy Fringe, promote it through social media and increase the chances of it being renewed.
Annie, Aimee, and Kelly started the team effort that would direct, organize and spearhead campaigns by organizing the first campaign over Twitter and the ideas spiraled from there when it became successful.
2. What is the main goal of your group?
To promote and support Fringe for as long as it continues. We want a Season Five.
Our main goal is to show the network enough support that they're able to give Fringe a proper ending. Hopefully that will mean at least a truncated season five, but if we can convince them to give us a full season, we'd be ecstatic!
Celebrate the show. Use technology to demonstrate why this show matters. Develop a unified voice so it is heard more loudly and ensure the message is cohesive. Everyone has different reasons why they love the show but at the foundation is that the show is loved.
Personally, I want to focus on the positive. I know there is a lot of chatter about "Save Fringe" but you'll rarely see that in my tweets or messages.
Do I want more season(s)? Of course I do. But primarily, I want the showrunners to be able to tell the story they want to tell at the pace and in the design they originally intended.
So my focus is not so much about "saving" Fringe but rather generating irrefutable data that can supplement Nielsen rating data or better yet, show other ways viewership and support of the show can be quantified.
I want our activities to be engaging experiences for fans and open to all whether you're a diehard and have memorized every glyph for every letter of the alphabet or whether you are just starting your watch of this amazing show.
I’m glad that you asked this question. We decided in the infancy of our founding that we are not about “Saving Fringe.” I cannot stress enough that raising Nielsen ratings is not something that we are overly concerned about. Yes, the ratings are of a factor. To not think so would be naive. However, we are assuming a more sophisticated position that heavily factors in social media.
The organization is about celebrating Fringe - why the show is worthy of reaching a planned conclusion.
There is nothing worse to me then becoming invested in a world – let alone two universes – and never getting some kind of resolution for the stories. In my mind, Fringe may continue on no matter when the show stops airing on television. The worlds brought to life by the creators are just so detailed and expansive, that the possibility to explore in novels and comics is there. But I want to see Joel Wyman and Jeff Pinkner’s vision for Fringe play out on the show.
The main aim of the group is to promote Fringe and the international Fringe fandom community through organized campaigns, discussion, fun and dedication. The campaigns that the Fringenuity team organize catch the attention of non-Fringe viewers which increases the likelihood that we may attract new viewers via social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Youtube etc), whilst also giving free promotion to sponsors when we thank them for sponsoring the show and proving to the people that are responsible for Fringe that we are a dedicated audience who love our show and will do whatever we can to ensure that it remains on the air.
3. How would you describe the "social media" concept, and how important is it to Fringe's future?
Fringe has always been a really social show, and we know that Fox has been watching the buzz for a while now, and that it was a factor in the Season Four renewal.
What we don't know is how big of a factor it was, so when we started with all this, we were mostly looking for quantifiable, trackable ways to prove that we're watching the show live as it airs - tweets and Get Glue check ins can be tracked and catalogued, so we felt they were good ways to do that.
But in the last six weeks the potential reach of these campaigns has really blown us away. The fans have really taken to them, and our hashtags have been seen by literally millions of people.
It's surprising, and really exciting. I don't think any fandom has ever done anything like this with such focus, and if we can keep the momentum going, we may be able to make enough of an impression to keep Fringe alive.
I think this kind of grassroots promotion has a lot of unexplored potential, and if the networks can figure out how to take advantage of it – court it even – it could turn out to be a lifeline not only for Fringe, but for other shows as well.
We know from reading articles about Fringe's audience that they are really savvy. I may be taking a personal leap of faith in assuming that they are also early adopters of technology and the show by design encourages discussion among Fringe theorists.
A quick look at the data will show that #Fringe receives a lot of attention via Twitter and made the top ten most checked-in shows in 2011 on GetGlue. We need to grab on to these bits of data and leverage them into opportunities to connect “Fringies” and channel what they do every day in social media spaces into a cohesive message - the sum is greater than its parts. It is like asking every fan to pick up a small pebble and show up a location so that we can build a message together.
If there was any show that the network tried to do different things with, I think it is Fringe.
There was a lot of grumbling about the show being shifted to different time slots and different days, but what you can't argue is that FOX has tried different things with this show (e.g. longer episodes in Season 1 (remote-free TV), displaying #Fringe hash during episode airing, considering impact of DVR viewing, and its riskiest to date-moving the show to Friday).
I fully believe the network loves Fringe as much as I do. I take it as a positive that FOX is trying to look at viewership in different ways. We're here to help.
The landscape of television consumption is changing and so are the means of measuring an audience. There are many studies that I’ve reviewed that correlate ratings to social media chatter. And networks are also looking at data concerning social media impressions.
I was – and I still am - a big fan of The X-Files. It just amazes me how far the concept of fandom has come since it aired. Back in those days, we traded comic books, physical magazines, and copied pictures of nearly-naked David Duchovny from the internet… Forums were in their infancy. Fan-fiction was a popular medium. But these were isolated communities that took some serious ferreting with a search engine to find.
Social media has blown the lid off what a fandom can do to reach others with a message – whether they be existing fans or potential new viewers. And many of these venues can be integrated for further reach. Fringe fans have broken new ground with our multi-platform social media plans.
These, coupled with more traditional tactics such as patronizing businesses and buying merchandise, are a perfect blend, showing an enthusiasm that cannot be ignored.
So, we developed what I like to call “Fringe Renewal Through the Advancement of Social Media Technology.”
As an example, GetGlue check-ins post to Twitter and/or Facebook . We found that not only can we give a measurable accounting for Fringe, but we could also let advertisers and sponsors know that we see their commercials and appreciate their support or sponsorship. To speak a bit like Walter, I’d like to think of this organization as a living, synergetic system. Each piece of the plan is a small part of an amazing whole – greater than the sum of its parts.
There are ways that money can be made from Fringe other than traditional advertising. I really feel that there are differences in television audiences.
Social media is a new wave of technology that allows an international audience to be a part of something instantly and not limited to their own country's boundaries.
Fringe fans all over the world have connected to each other through social media on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Youtube and forums to create a community of friends that have a common interest and love - Fringe. That love within the fandom allows us to discuss a show that is a lot more than "just a TV show" to most of us and find friends and allies in the online world.
The Fringe show runners as well the network have recognised that this show has a passionate fan base in the online world and I believe Fringe was the first show to support the #Fringe tag on live episodes to specifically generate discussion on Twitter.
Being able to promote the show through social media shows the people in charge of Fringe that the show is loved and it is also an amazing way to reach out to a prospective new audience (whether that be science fiction lovers, other TV fandoms, or just general TV viewers who haven't heard of Fringe) - which means that is it vital to the show's future.
Nielson ratings are no longer the only factor taken into account when looking at the possibility of renewing a show and if a network believes that there is a strong enough international audience that they can make a profit from (TV is still a business after all) then it plays a significant role in keeping Fringe alive and on the air.
4. How can fans help out Fringenuity?
Participate in the campaigns and spread the word about them. We know we're still only reaching a fraction of the Fringe fans out there, and the more people we have participating, the better our chances of trending and catching the attention of non fans. Even a single tweet or check in helps, and the more exposure we can get for Fringe, the greater its chances for survival.
We do tweet out requests for information and participation. There are also forums on MoreThanOneofEverything.net where people can submit their ideas.
For our campaign events, Fringies have been instrumental in getting the word out and also giving us feedback when things are not working so well. I hope that they've taken the time to read a little bit of what we are about and why we do the things we do. We're also happy to explain.
We've had artists submit wonderful icons for the fandom to use on Friday Twitter events.
I see Fringies taking time during the week to independently promote our campaigns and also chat up new viewers. These really go a long way to help.
Stay positive. Ratings news can sometimes be a let down but we need to look beyond that to continue to generate innovate ways to show how we count, why we count and therefore the show counts.
I am fortunate to be part of this wonderful fandom. I truly am.
Being part of Fringenuity has enriched my experiences, although I could use more hours of sleep at this point.
All I ask is that fans continue to advocate for the show with positive and enthusiastic messages and means.
First of all, keep a positive attitude. Every Saturday, many of us hold our collective breath, waiting for the live Nielsen rating to be released. It is hard to see such a brilliant show stay stagnant in that regard, I know. But keep this in mind - we’re making history together. Join us all for events, and inform other fans that may not know about them.
Fringenuity is a Fringe community effort.
The FringeFriday campaigns are an obvious way to help us out as the more noise we can create on Twitter and GetGlue etc, the higher the chances of us getting new fans watching and loving the show and the more we can influence the show runners and the network.
Further than that though we are open to suggestions on new ways to promote the show and ideas on what we can do to improve the success of our campaigns to keep Fringe on the air.
5. What is the one thing you want Fringe fans to remember about "Fringenuity"?
That it's all of us. Fringenuity isn't really an “organization” - it's the community.
The Fringenuity team wouldn't be here if there hadn't been this intense collective desire from the fandom to voice our support of Fringe.
Fringies are an incredibly affectionate and close-knit bunch, and it's just been an amazing ride. Whatever happens with Fringe, I'm proud to be a part of the fandom, and proud of what we've accomplished, and I'll always treasure the experience. I really hope everyone else does too.
Nothing special about any of us. We are fans just like you :)
We’ve been fighting together unofficially for Fringe for a long time. We are passionate about everything in this show, from Olivia’s hair down to Peter’s peacoat.
Everyone that works for this show is amazing – cast, crew, writers, producers, and even the promo guys like Ari Margolis – make this show such a rarity.
As such, everything we do has the best interest of promoting Fringe at heart. Each decision we make in the name of the organization is not done lightly. We take into account many factors and perform fact-checking and research before reaching a decision.
We are an international community who are working together to protect something we love. It is not about us as individuals, we are here to promote the show and the Fringe fandom community spirit.
6. What would you like to see die hard Fringe fans (isn't that all of us?) do to help the show, at this point?
WATCH IT LIVE! And then watch it on DVR. Keep talking to people about it, and keep buying stuff from wbshop.com.
Support the Fringenuity campaigns, learn how they work, and keep spreading the word. Stick together Fringies, we can do this!
Cultivate your network whether in real life, or in social media (Twitter, FB, G+, GetGlue) and get the word out about these strategies. Always welcome new viewers.
Really, I know that many have tried everything in the arsenal to help the show. I’ve never seen such a willing and creative fandom. Just keep making the buzz we’re making.
Keep making Fringe #1 on GetGlue on Friday nights.
Keep letting the sponsors know we are seeing their advertisements, and that we spend our money with them. For goodness sakes, we’re bound to influence a Nielsen viewer or two. Just follow a simple equation:
Watching Live + Social Media + Thanking Sponsors + Sharing The Love = Season Five
Make sure you watch the show live, DVR it and watch it on repeat.
Look out for people on Twitter who may show an interest in Fringe and then suggest they check it out and watch it.
Check in regularly to GetGlue. If someone is asking questions about Fringe on any social media site take the time to reply to them and open the conversation up to others (sometimes when one person asks if another like Fringe and they suddenly receive 20+ positive responses, they are a lot more interested in checking it out).
Talk to us if you have a suggestion, we are all open to ideas through our personal accounts on Twitter as well as @Fringenuity, through email, or at http://morethanoneofeverything.net/.
Most importantly, join in on our FringeFriday campaigns and help us show FOX Broadcasting that Fringe is worth keeping around. As a determined fandom community there is nothing we can't achieve as long as we work together!