Social Media, Vampires, and You
by Isaac Hellemn
Poking around Mashable the other day, I happened upon an article analyzing the social media success of True Blood relative to “competing vampire brands” Twilight and Vampire Diaries. (I guess it was only a matter of time before we started seeing analyses of “competing vampire brands” and their audience shares.) The important part of the article was hidden in a busy infographic further down the page. And it is summarized thus: True Blood is really, really good at leveraging social media.
Examples help. In September, HBO announced that if 50,000 of its True Blood fans checked into GetGlue for the season finale, then all of them would get merchandise discounts at the True Blood store. To wit: True Blood got its fans to advertise the finale among their social networks so that they could then buy products from HBO. True Blood doesn’t just have Twitter fans, it has a fan site for its Twitter fans (truebloodontwitter.com). You can even buy the True Blood from the show (although the consumer version is blood-colored orange soda and costs sixteen bucks for a four-pack, plus shipping).
They have a name for this sort of thing, “Interactive Television,” and it goes a lot further than DVR’s. Professor Jon Taplin at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication is one of the academics who specializes in this new field. Taplin got his start as a music and film producer in Hollywood (this guy produced Martin Scorsese’s first movie!), and then he took a break to do investment banking at Merrill Lynch. Having seen both the entertainment and business worlds, Taplin has a unique perspective on the future of TV media.
The question people like Taplin are asking is “While I watch the Lakers game, can the Tablet provide me synced up stats of the game, instant replays and e-commerce opportunities?” As HBO has shown us, this is already happening. The lines between TV and e-commerce are fading fast, and the connection is social media. GetGlue allows HBO to offer discounts to Trubies (True Blood groupies). True Blood can offer sneak peek clips and exclusive content to its Twitter fans.
One of the most profound advantages of social media as a marketing tool is the sense of community that it creates. You might be a park ranger living on the Alaskan tundra, but when you use your satellite internet to hit up the True Blood Facebook page, you become part of a group. The fan who uses the True Blood apps, follows the True Blood Twitter feeds, and buys overpriced True Blood soda isn’t just somebody who likes the show. This is a person who identifies at a personal level with True Blood, a Trubie, one consumer among many who share predictable interests, wants, and needs.