One of the most consistently talked about television shows in social media today is AMC’s The Walking Dead. The show’s online fan base is large and in charge.
Engagement is high and its television audience blows others out of the water.
Last fall, The Walking Dead was the highest rated show among the coveted 18-49 year old demographic. Looking at a single episode in March (2013) the show pulled in 12.3 million viewers…and that was when it was up against the Grammy Awards.
Even its episode follow-up “The Talking Dead”, which is a companion show discussing what just aired, garnered 2.8 million 18-49 year olds. This is more than NBC had for the entire month of February (source).
So what is the Walking Dead doing that we can learn from?
As one AMC executive admitted, there is a certain chemistry involved that is hard to replicate, but good writing and excellent storylines also factor in. Add to that, a comprehensive and active digital presence and you have all the ingredients for a smash hit online and off. Just this week the show was nominated for Program of the Year by the Television Critics Association.
Aside from good content and compelling stories, The Walking Dead has taken steps to grow its fan base and to ensure fans stay engaged. One of the most savvy moves, in my opinion, is AMC’s decision to sell the series to Netflix early on. This enables those hearing buzz about the show, to access it immediately. A few binge-watching sessions later and new fans can catch up with existing ones; adding more voices to the online chatter and building even more buzz.
Of course, The Walking Dead is also monitoring, nurturing and engaging 17-million fans on its Facebook Page. Consistent activity, interesting posts and enthusiastic admirers all contribute to the average post getting 30,000 “likes”. But custom Facebook apps also help. The Walking Dead has a popular “Dead Yourself” app – allowing fans to upload photos of themselves and then affecting them so they look zombified.
There is also the…
- Dead Alert newsletter with exclusive content
- Ultimate Fan Game: featuring quizzes, prizes and friend-to-friend challenges
On Twitter, The Walking Dead has over a million followers. It uses show-specific #hashtags to keep conversations fresh and relevant to the latest developments. The hashtags change every week based on the most recent episode.
The Walking Dead also integrates more social into the viewing experience through its Story Sync app. Story Sync, as the name suggests, synchronizes a handheld device with the show as it airs. This facilitates supplemental content to enhance the story unfolding on the primary screen.
And if all these apps, online games and newsletters are just too much for some fans, there’s always The Walking Dead board game!