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Although founded in 1939 as Timely Comics, the modern version of Marvel Comics that all fanboys know and love today was launched in 1961. With Fantastic Four, Spider-man, Avengers and X-Men all first appearing on comic book pages in the first half of the 60s.
With the arrival of the digital age, the expectation was that this 75 year-old company, whose very business is completely ingrained in traditional print media, would just be left to wrinkle and brown like the early-90's Ghost Rider comics I have boxed away in my attic.
However this has been far from the fate of mighty Marvel! (I can get away with exclamation marks here because I’m writing about comic books).
Marvel has played a huge part in the push to build a bridge between print and digital content since mid 2012 by revolutionising the way comic books are consumed, through innovative app design and comprehensive online and offline access to its brand new and vintage comics.
Marvel has also shown incredible skill in rebuilding its own brand through expert content marketing and becoming a peerless heavyweight in the summer blockbuster market.
How does Marvel market its huge amount of content online? Through its many and varied social media channels each offering unique content, tailored to the respective platform.
Let’s take a look at how Marvel uses Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter to ‘make everyone’s Marvel’.
Marvel keeps its Google+ page specific to its latest cinematic endeavour. Here is the current takeover by the upcoming Captain America sequel.
Marvel has amassed an impressive 4m followers on its page. Even though recent studies suggest that just 35% of Google+ users are active, Marvel manages a strong level of interaction and engagement.
Each post receives between 1,000 – 3,500 pluses, and hundreds of reshares and comments. Most of the content is exclusive to this channel and Marvel takes advantage of Google+’s full image view, by providing followers with content that doesn’t have to be clicked for the full version.
Marvel also highlights its technological advancements with AR by offering this interactive poster, that requires a smartphone to activate the 3D image.
Marvel has realised the value of Twitter as the key platform that modern television audiences use to ‘second-screen’.
This trend has rather serendipitously occurred at the same time that Marvel has spread its cinematic universe to television, with it’s spin-off series Agents of SHIELD.
During each broadcast, Marvel live-tweets the action and regularly retweets followers’ best efforts.
In fact, Marvel makes a huge effort in retweeting its followers. A glance down the feed shows that half of Marvel’s tweets are retweets.
This encourages a huge sense of community and engagement.
Marvel is a full-time Twitter marketer. On 6th March alone, there were 18 tweets from its account. Luckily Marvel has a huge amount of content to provide much variety.
There’s everything here from links to podcast interviews with writers, teaser trailers for films, exclusive sneak previews of artwork, friendly banter with followers and links to third-party merchandise.
It’s a hugely entertaining and informative channel, full of personality and community spirit.
Marvel’s Instagram is another social channel full of exclusive, attractive content that users won’t find anywhere else.
Offering regular preview snaps of next week’s new releases piled together, which is like a collector’s version of catnip.
Playful glimpses behind the scenes to help build rapport.
A healthy amount of retro kitsch, which is basically the bread and butter of Instagram.
And a good mixture of the weird, the humourous and the socially engaging.
Marvel runs a fantastic Pinterest page. Featuring well themed and stocked boards, full of exclusive images.
Here Marvel can be as thorough and comprehensive as it likes in filling up its albums, in a way that would be a little exhausting for a follower on other social channels. The Marvel NOW board for instance, where Marvel teases its latest comic book titles, has 594 pins and 29,777 followers.
Just like in its other channels, Marvel has gauged the expectations of Pinterest followers, by providing content that’s appealing to this particular channel.
Here’s a great collection of vintage Marvel ads, that you won’t find elsewhere.
Marvel has also recently started collecting its variant covers together in a new board. Pinterest is the perfect platform to show these rare pieces of artwork off, together in one location.
Finally to show that it’s all ultimately about the fans. Marvel cements its commitment to its readers by regularly publishing photos of them dressed as their favourite heroes from various comic conventions.