“After just four episodes, the new drama is Fox's highest-rated series, and one of network TV’s top newcomers among young-adult viewers,” reported USA Today’s Gary Levin recently. “And its 13-episode first season has already been extended for a second. Original episodes are averaging 12.3 million viewers, including big gains from DVR-delayed viewing.” Not only that, but the show is among the top performers in the key 18-49 year old demographic group among all new shows this year. Yes, it’s a hit. And it’s a great show. I love it.
But why is it so successful? Is it the acting? The writing? It’s weird, sci-fi premise? (OK, so…Ichabod Crane is resurrected and teams up with a policewoman to investigate a killing spree that was instigated by the Headless Horseman who has also returned from the 18th century to modern day Sleepy Hollow. Got that?)
It’s all that. But that’s not the whole story. Sleepy Hollow has succeeded in great part because of its social media efforts. On Facebook the show has almost 740,000 likes and on Twitter, the show’s official handle has about 53,000 followers and another account just for the show’s writers has another 11,000 followers. It has created an online buzz among its key customers and kept its fans returning. This is how to use social media to create a community. This is how we should all be using social media. These are the six keys to Sleepy Hollow’s social media success.
1. Investing in someone to lead the effort. Oh, and make sure that person is young. The “Social Media Producer” for the show is Emily Murray, a twenty-something-year-old who’s only been at Fox for two years, but is quietly doing her part to change the way products are promoted. She works 10-12 hour days, travels to fan conferences like Comic-Con and plans and coordinates all the messaging about the show. Do you have a “social media producer” like Emily at your company? The companies that I see who succeed with social media invest in great people like her. It’s a committed, long term effort made by organizations who put their money where their mouths are.
2. Choosing the right social media outlet… or outlets. Sleepy Hollow is most active on Facebook FB -2.8% and Twitter because that’s where their fans are. Take a look at your customers – are most of them there? Or maybe LinkedIn LNKD -1.63%? Or Tumblr, Pinterest or Google Plus? Did you know that CafeMom, the “meeting place for moms,” has 12.5 million unique monthly visitors? Or that Qzone is the top social media site in China with an estimated 712 million members? Like the social media team for Sleepy Hollow discovered, you must go to where your customers are and focus your resources there.
3. Collaborating internally. In the profile of Emily Murray mentioned above, she mentions that her “team plans well in advance, watching the shows before they air and working with designers, public relations specialists, and the video production team to create assets Fox uses to engage their audiences, both on television and online.” The social media team gets everyone connected to the show involved in the process. It’s a company effort, not just a marketing effort. Your social media conversation should include insights and collaboration from all areas of the company – service, sales, design, support, and yes, even accounting. Everyone has something to say. All of this is content that’s of use to your customers and fans.
4. Focusing on the product, not the company. Notice what media companies are doing? They are creating communities around their individual shows. No one really wants to be part of the “Fox” or “NBC” or “ESPN” community. That’s because we’re only into certain things that these companies make…like Sleepy Hollow. Maybe having a company Twitter account isn’t the right answer for you. Maybe a better answer is having ten Twitter or Facebook accounts for the ten product lines or services you provide, all geared towards those specific audiences.
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