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According to a recent eMarketer report, 15% to 17% of TV viewers engage with social networks in real time. This is a golden opportunity for brands who sponsor television programs and are looking for ways to engage with audiences on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

The key is in the use of hashtags.

This Sunday, Season 4 of The Walking Dead will premiere on AMC. As one of the most popular TV shows, you can bet there will be a good number of watchers who will be tweeting and posting on Facebook during the show. What will they be posting about? Most likely, the characters and the story line. Whether they like it or not, your brand can get in on the conversation. You don’t even have to be a sponsor of the show.

The official Walking Dead hashtag is #WalkingDead. You can see the 24-hour trend for the hashtag at Hashtags.org.

If your brand’s audience coincides with the audience for this TV show, you could be watching the show and tweeting and posting on Facebook during the show. Be sure you don’t annoy your audience with self-promotional posts that hijack the hashtag. Instead, use your branded Twitter account or Facebook page to join the conversation going on about the show and its characters while it is happening. This alone will become a way for you to expand your brand’s influence as you discuss a common interest with your audience. You can engage in this form of social media marketing with any TV show in real time.

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