Do you remember the TV game show Bullseye? The original production was broadcast on UK television from 1981 to 1995 and though there have been a few reincarnations on various channels since then, most people today will know it from the repeats on Challenge TV.
Bullseye used to be a regular fixture in my own Sundays, just as much a part of Sunday as a pint of Guinness with my granddad and his Irish mates at lunchtime. I can still recall all of Jim Bowen's catchphrases - "BFH, Bus Fare Home" probably being a personal favourite.
I recently noticed a Bullseye fan page on Facebook and when I joined to see what people were talking about, I noticed that they have around 23,000 fans on there talking about a TV show that ended 16 years ago. But there was also an online petition aimed at marshalling public support for a new series.
Intrigued by the way this former TV favourite was still living on inside various social media platforms, I got in touch with Laura Wood, the Bullseye director of business affairs, and also daughter of Bullseye creator Andrew Wood.
Wood explained that the main reason why they launched the social media platform for Bullseye is that there is still a lot of interest in the show: "I get emails all the time asking when there will be a new series, or even just if there is a contestant database so I can leave my name in case there is a new series in future," she explained.
"If we have the petition online, then all these people can see how many other people are interested in the show and also how many people would really like to see it back on terrestrial TV. The Bullseye social networking sites have only been around for three years. It is a great way for the fans to come together and you can see that there is still massive interest in both the show and the brand," she added.
This is in fact what made me so interested in the Bullseye social media strategy. It's a show that many people have fond memories of, but there are no new shows presently in production.
"We have more Facebook fans than many other TV shows that are still on air. I spend hours every day working on building that community and communicating with them. The ultimate goal is not just to get a new version of the show on TV, it's more to build a community and to interact with the fans," said Wood.
The team at Bullseye have used the fond memories people have of the show to create a diverse array of merchandise that is for sale on their website.
"We are very much a brand and we have new merchandise coming out all the time, so I will talk to the fans about the new products. Every time we have something new coming out I will do some giveaways on the site," Wood explained.
"People like to reminisce about Bullseye. It's a show that is entrenched in the childhood of many of our fans. You see people saying things like 'Sunday used to be a bath, a pie, Bullseye, then bed...' people love sharing their views so it's not just about us pushing our business. We like to stay in touch with our fans and to know what it is they like about the show - we have really loyal fans and we like to reward them" she added.
But TV shows, magazines, and clebrities always had fan clubs, even before the era of social networking - which in reality is only the past five years. I wanted to understand if the Bullseye team could maintain such brand awareness for a show that is no longer in production without using social networks.
"It would not be impossible without social networking. It has enabled us to grow the community though. We used to have a comments page on the website, which now seems very out of date. We took emails from fans, read them, and pasted them on the comments section of the website. Social networking has allowed us to build up a fan base much faster and more easily than before it existed," said Wood.
"It is a lot more enjoyable and interactive, the previous model of comments was very one way - social networking has allowed the word about Bullseye to spread much faster," she added.
Of course the Bullseye team managed to get the show featured on Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon in 2005 and to get a new series made in 2006, all without the benefit of an active online community, but Wood's comments about it now being much easier to harness support ring very true.
Wood explains: "You couldn't really call comments on the website a club or community. Two years ago we only had about 2,000 fans on Facebook and we then started taking it more seriously and it now has 23,000 - which for a programme that is not even in production right now is pretty good."
And there are various Bullseye ventures in the pipeline right now. Bullseye is currently on a UK national theatre tour, maintaining the TV format in a live environment and Challenge TV loves the repeats. A repeat recently shown on a Friday afternoon had the best audience that day across the entire Sky platform.
Wood is confident the show will return to British TV screens soon: "The next step is that we would love to get a new series back on TV. We have the support out there and we think it is just a matter of time before that happens."
If she can achieve it with the help of the online community then I think it would be super, smashing, great...
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