You think you know what it takes to tweet a hit show, but you have no idea.
Seconds before an all-new episode of Pretty Little Liars begins, the viewing room at the ABC Family headquarters in Burbank is buzzing with excitement, while idle fingers are tingling with anticipation.
As "Secret" by The Pierces — the show's now-iconic theme song — begins to play onscreen, a tidal wave of enthusiastic tweets crashes through the timelines of the ABC Family social media team, and instantaneously floods their inboxes.
It's canon that for every new episode on ABC Family, the social teamwill host their signature live-tweet party with the fans, and earlier this week ET was invited for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look of the Pretty Little Liars event to find out why the series has become such a social media phenomenon.
Pretty Little Liars is known for its heart-pounding drama and beyond-beautiful stars, but the series' true claim-to-fame is their worldwide social media army. Not only is it the No. 1 scripted TV series on Twitter, PLL is the most-followed show on Instagram, and boasts more than 14.5 million Facebook likes.
"It really all starts with listening to our fans," Danielle Mullin, ABC Family's VP of Marketing, says of the show's social media success. "Pretty Little Liars is a compelling drama with plot twists and turns, and it really has this perfect mix of romance, drama, and suspense. All of those things together make it impossible not to tweet your reactions to what's happening."
In addition to posting exclusive sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes shots, the team has discovered that having star power on their side is the best way to keep fans engaged. "It's fantastic when we can get the talent to live-tweet and engage with fans." Mullin explains. "A retweet is like a modern-day autograph."
Signing virtual autographs this week was PLL star Keegan Allen and executive producer Marlene King, who each brought their own Internet posse with 1.4 million and 450,000+ followers on Twitter, respectively.
Although it's difficult to keep up with the thousands of tweets that fly in each and every minute during an episode, Allen makes it a pint to connect with as many fans as possible. "I do try to look at every single piece of content out there," the actor reveals. Whether it's fan-fiction, pictures, and theories — or just, 'I love-you's!' and marriage proposals."
That's right ladies, get in line because apparently fans have popped the question to Allen quite a few times. "Yeah I've seen some crazy tweets," the 25-year-old star says with a laugh. "Some people will tweet out their locations and be like, 'Come over to my house and watch the show with me!' And that's a little bit insane, but I love it, "he said.
The actor then took a beat before adding, "But don’t do that!"
Those running the Pretty Little Liars' Twitter handle are not just doing their job — they're also fans themselves, so all of their replies and retweets come from a the heart. And even though it may seem like a fan's tweet could be lost in the hundreds of thousands of tweets that are sent each episode, the powers-that-be at PLL are definitely paying attention.
"We really listen to the fans," Allen says of the viewers' storyline requests. "It's like the first show in the history of television to really listen to their fan base and give them what they want."
King confirms that the PLL writers' room often looks online to see what's causing a spark—or what's not—when they're plotting what's next for the show. "If there's really a swell of popular support for a certain character or a storyline then we absolutely take it under consideration," the showrunner says. "We'd be foolish not to."