Reblogged from iMedia Connection
The knock on Hollywood is that it’s been slow to adapt in the digital age. Fair or not, it’s worth noting just how revolutionary the last decade has been for Tinseltown.
Television is also at a crossroads. The networks have seen a steady decline in ratings, while cable channels have matured into household names. Shows that once had a season or more to find an audience now operate in a world where cancelation notices often fly after a few episodes. Only sports and news continue to attract live audiences, but many networks have found that their shows have a long tail on services like Netflix.
Yet for all the chaos, audiences are still passionate about great entertaining content. Social media can move the needle. Good buzz on Facebook can push a movie’s campaign over the top and drive box office. Television viewers use Twitter and the new wave of social TV apps to redefine the viewing experience. Entertainment brands are increasingly turning to these channels to engage directly with consumers, but simply having a dedicated Facebook or Twitter presence is now par for the course. Going above and beyond with social is a key ingredient to marketing entertainment — something these brands do especially well.
As a subscription television channel, HBO’s social media strategy isn’t just about building buzz — subscribers already know about the shows and have access to plenty of marketing material on the tube. Instead, the pay channel uses social media to leverage its subscribers’ passions, which in turn helps imbue HBO’s content with an aura that is somehow bigger and different than mere TV.
Take “Game of Thrones” for example. While HBO actively and effectively uses Twitter and Facebook, the brand isn’t afraid to engage on platforms that aren’t as well known for their marketing prowess. An HBO-created Tumblr page serves as a showcase for some of the best Thrones fan art on web. HBO also used Miso to enrich the content itself, giving Thrones fans a side-by-side second screen experience that allows them to delve as deep as they wish into the show’s complex world.
In April, HBO premiered the second season of “Game of Thrones” to 3.9 million viewers — a series high. But perhaps the best measure of HBO’s social media success is that the second season premiere had so many check-ins on Get Glue that HBO fans actually crashed the site temporarily. “To put the 50,000 check-ins into context, the highly anticipated return of ‘Mad Men’…brought in 22,000 check-ins,” Mashable reported. “Meanwhile, the season two premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’ had 43,000, and the 2011 season premiere of ‘True Blood’ had 38,000 check-ins.”
With two of the hottest properties on television, AMC has a lot to talk about on social media. Anyone with friends who are fans of “Mad Men,” for example, knows when the show is back in season because their Facebook feeds are overrun with avatars based on the show’s popular characters. But the “Mad Men” social presence doesn’t stop there. In fact, it continues right up through broadcast, according to Mashable, which reported that the 2012 debut was the most buzzed about show of the year, with 106,000 comments. While AMC uses all the usual social media channels effectively, the cable network deserves a lot of credit for eventually embracing — or at least not terminating — the legions of “Mad Men” parody accounts on Twitter. After all, those accounts do plenty to promote the show.
To promote its other big hit, “The Walking Dead,” AMC rolled out a Facebook game. Often times, social games can backfire because they cost a lot to make and promote but usually come up short with fans. However, AMC’s Facebook game for “The Walking Dead” is an exception to the rule with more than 300,000 fans.
While it’s easy to see how strong social media work has paid off in terms of ratings for AMC, what’s most impressive is how well the cable network’s marketing team balances such a diverse lineup of content. Speaking authentically to comic book geeks and hardcore drama fans is, in and of itself, a social media accomplishment to be proud of.
When you have 34 million friends (and counting) on Facebook, you’re clearly doing something right. But Nickelodeon’s successful promotion of “SpongeBob SquarePants” isn’t accidental. The network’s philosophy is to be everywhere its fans are, but it’s not just about having a presence. What drives Nickelodeon’s success is its commitment to sharing good content with its audience, regardless of the platform.
Last year, Nickelodeon broke ground by premiering an episode of SpongeBob on Facebook, giving social media users a special reward for engaging with the property online. The network has also made good use of Twitter. Most notably, SpongeBob took fans along for a vacation by tweeting photo postcards and interacting from the road to promote its “Runaway Road Trip Week.”
While it’s clear that Nickelodeon does a good job of using social media to promote its programming and keep fans engaged, the network should also be praised for its ability to listen. After all, listening is a critical — but often overlooked — component of social media. And in Nickelodeon’s case, the network not only heard its Facebook fans request to bring back nostalgic shows from the ’90s, but it also took action by launching “The ’90s Are All That,” a programming block featuring some of its original hits. [Full Story]