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Most brands tend to focus on their products and services when they use social media.
People, on the other hand, use social media to build and maintain connections - to chat to friends, family and to other people.
They might visit a branded Facebook page to discover more about that company, or enter a competition occasionally, but if you want them to stick around, there has to be a bigger motivation than seeing how the brand is going to link its product to the latest sporting event.
People want to connect with people, and with stories. This is where the entertainment industry comes into its element.
While it’s true that most brands aren’t going to have the frenzy of interest around them that a major TV show does, there are things that businesses can learn from entertainment brands on social media.
Creating a shared experience
Entertainment brands know that social media is about conversations and shared experiences. They know that many viewers like to tweet about the TV programmes they’re watching, while they are watching them.
In November 2013, the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, was broadcast simultaneously in 90 countries and averaged 2,745 tweets per minute.
Entertainment brands, like Doctor Who, are capitalising on this interest, by getting involved in the conversation themselves, and pre-planning tweets to publish at crucial moments.
Geronimo!— Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) November 23, 2013
The Walking Dead twitter account focuses heavily on building up to episodes and new series. It holds Twitter Q&As, posts behind the scenes images and shares pictures fans take after using its app to turn themselves into zombies (check out #zombieyourself for some gruesome images).
Around 5.17m people see tweets about The Walking Dead during each episode.
Get the superstars involved
Sports entertainment brand WWE was shortlisted for the best brand on Twitter shorty award in 2014. As of February 2014 it had more than 79m followers spread over its Twitter accounts (it has at least 146 superstars on Twitter).
It has around 250m social media followers in total. John Cena alone has more than 17m Facebook fans.
It also spawns cross-over artists – the most successful being Dwayne Johnson, who has more than 7.4m followers on Twitter.
The actors who starred in hit TV show, Breaking Bad, took to their own Twitter accounts to promote and discuss the show.
Well, this is it. The last episode ever of Breaking Bad. Thank you for sharing this ride with me. Without you we never would have lasted.— Bryan Cranston (@BryanCranston) September 29, 2013
Last episode ever of Breaking Bad. It would not be possible without all of you. Thank you all for the amazing ride. Love you Vince!!!!— Aaron Paul (@aaronpaul_8) September 30, 2013
Breaking Bad achieved between 6m and 9.1m tweets per episode.
People don’t follow products, they follow people. They want to peek behind the curtain. Brands need to create evangelists out of their own top performers, raise their public profiles and let them show the people behind the brand.
Unite the community
Game of Thrones is the series that’s currently cornered the market in must-watch TV moments. You don’t want to be one of the people sitting there, hopelessly behind on episodes, as millions of people tweet about red and purple weddings.
While most brands aren’t going to have many #RoastJoffrey moments, there is an opportunity for brands.
They need to know what their followers want, and give it to them. This helps build a strong relationship between the brand and its audience.
Take it offline
Orange Is The New Black took an idea from the show and made it a social media, and offline sensation.
The #CrazyPyes van travels around neighbourhoods and serves people crazy pies and chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream. Once one person spotted the van, pictures of it started popping up all over social media.
Coca-Cola, while very active on social media, also does offline stunts. It dots vending machines around the world, which do everything from issue freebies to passing people, to tasking the thirsty to dance for their drinks.
And for more examples, check out David Moth's post on 10 cool experiential marketing campaigns.
Be ready to act
House of Cards knows its audience, and knows that the show is popular with politicians. The Twitter account sometimes replies to politician’s tweets:
@ChrisMurphyCT You must not lose your resolve. You will march forward even if you have to do so alone.— House of Cards (@HouseofCards) February 13, 2014
@Ed_Miliband @Mjpkane Democracy is so overrated...— House of Cards (@HouseofCards) February 14, 2014
Those behind @HouseofCards know who their constituents are, and they’re ready to comment on almost any tweet that they spot.
@RepSwalwell Washington has gone to the dogs.— House of Cards (@HouseofCards) July 21, 2014
Brands like Oreo have shown that they can be quick to take advantage of opportunities to grab the social media headlines with a bit of spontaneous fun. It’s not just entertainment brands that can live for the moment now and again.
Social media is about connecting with people, which is also what the entertainment industry is all about.
But are other brands all that different really? Entertainers are selling a product too, but most do it in such a sophisticated and engaging way that people don’t notice, or don’t care. Other brands can learn a lot from their approach to social.