Summary:

Project Runway viewers are already big social media users, sharing thoughts about the show while watching it live. So why not use Twitter as a way for fans to vote for their favorite contestant. That was the thinking behind Project Runway‘s Fan Favorite contest.

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Whenever hit Lifetime series Project Runway is on TV, viewers tend to tune-in live and use social networks to discuss what’s happening. Now in its ninth season, the show is attempting to leverage the power of social networks to help drive awareness and live tune-in with a new Fan Favorite award determined by Twitter votes.

Starting with the Season 9 premiere of Project Runway on Thursday, July 28, fans will be able to vote for their favorite contestants on the show during each episode, with a $10,000 prize going to the winner at the end of the season. To determine which contestants fans are most passionate about, A+E has established a personal hashtag for each contestant, and will be aggregating “votes” based on how many Tweets are received for each contestant.

A promotional video provided by A&E explaining how the voting will work is embedded below:

A+E Digital is working with social media measurement firm Mass Relevance to count the votes and to filter out vote spam, ensuring users don’t try to game the system by setting up dummy accounts or writing scripts to pound Twitter’s servers with Fan Favorite votes. (Mass Relevance was also recently tapped to provide data from President Obama’s recent Twitter Town Hall.)

The results will be posted on the Project Runway website, but they will also be updated weekly and will air within episodes to let viewers know which contestant is leading week-by-week. In addition, Project Runway hopes to drive awareness of the contest by including the designer’s hashtag each time his or her name is displayed on-screen.

The Fan Favorite winner doesn’t have to be one of the finalists for the show, according to A+E SVP of Digital Media Evan Silverman. That’s important, because it’s often third- or fourth- or even fifth-place contestants that most resonate with viewers. Even after someone has been eliminated, he or she will still be eligible to win the Fan Favorite prize, and viewers can still vote for that contestant.

Creating a social media tie-in like Fan Favorite is just one way A+E hopes to increase viewership of the already-popular TV show. In an email, Silverman wrote, “There is no doubt that if you can generate a significant level of buzz and awareness through social media platforms then that engagement translates to awareness for your show.”

For a show like Project Runway, which already has a large base of viewers tweeting during the show, creating this type of contest is just one way to boost awareness and engagement even further. Silverman writes:

“We think that by leveraging Twitter in a season-long, real-time voting contest, we’ll be able to increase the level of engagement significantly… and to let the fans give their favorite designer a great prize: $10,000.”

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