Communication Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


Carey Martin


Doctor Who, Entertainment Television, Fandom, Participatory Culture, Social Media Marketing, Tumblr


Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Journalism Studies | Mass Communication | Other Communication


In social media marketing, the most important aspect that brands and companies try to reach for is engagement with their audience. Today’s audience is no longer filled with passive consumers, but active participants. Nowhere is this more obvious than with fans of entertainment television. When television fans go on social media, they look to actively discuss, share content, and engage with other fans of the show. In the realm of entertainment television and social media marketing, the Doctor Who Tumblr has both a strong presence and an engaged audience. In 2013, the Tumblr page won a Shorty Award for its coverage of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary, which broke records for Tumblr engagement for a televised event, surpassing both the SuperBowl and MTV Video Music Awards. How was this possible? This paper endeavors to answer that question, using the idea of participatory culture as a lens for examining Tumblr engagement on the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. What did the social media managers do to engage their audience and why was it effective? This study includes both a survey measuring individuals’ attitudes toward social media and entertainment television, and a quantitative and qualitative study of the Doctor Who Tumblr page on the day of the 50th anniversary.