I am a HUGE fan of AMC's The Walking Dead, but I am an even bigger fan of the work that AMC & The Walking Dead has done with incorporating social media and the 2nd screen into their awesome show. It was a topic that was briefly touched on at SoCon this year, and I think that AMC's The Walking Dead is leading the way in social TV. So what is it that they do so great?
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the show, the story is based on a comic book series of the same name, and follows a group of survivors during the zombie apocalypse. The show premiered back in 2010 with 6 episodes and has garnered a cult following since. The story is set and filmed in Atlanta, GA.
Step 1: Social Media
The Walking Dead has been very active on social airwaves since season 1: interacting with fans, showing behind-the-scenes footage, teasing upcoming plot twist, and much more! The do a brilliant job of celebrating the fans of the show. After all, without the fans...where are they now? I believe that the social media aspect of the show has really helped accelerate the cult-ish following. They have empowered the fans of the show to fall in love with the characters and the story the other 167 hours of the week that the show is not on (and did I mention that they do it brilliantly?). Every episode has its own, unique hashtag that allows fans to discuss the most controversial events of the recent episode in real-time!
Step 2: Talking Dead
After the huge success of the first season, AMC set in production a complimentary show to The Walking Dead called The Talking Dead. The show is hosted by Chris Hardwick and is a live talk show that features celebrity fans, cast members, and crew. The show consists of a recap of all the deaths from the most recent episode, trivia, polls, behind-the-scenes footage, and questions that the fans submit through social media or online! On top of the 60-minute talk show (originally 30 minutes) there is a bonus 20 minutes afterwards that streams online. The talk show about the original show has gained a cult following! Why? Because it celebrates the fans. It empowers them.
Step 3: Story Sync
How else could AMC please the fans of the Walking Dead? Well, they introduced story sync. Story sync makes the show a 2 screen experience. It seems that everyone has a smart device in their household now-a-days, and AMC is capitalizing on it. So what is story sync? Story sync is a live, interactive experience that allows viewers to answer trivia questions, see behind the scene footage, participate in polls, judge character's decisions, and see what people are saying about the episode as it happens. This is a unique experience that brings together the fans and lets them enjoy the show in a very fun way!
Step 4: Gaming/Dead Yourself
Yes. Gaming. You can play the social game with your friends on Facebook, download the app from the App Store, or buy the video game for Xbox/PS3/PC. This allows the fans of the show to immerse themselves with the story on a whole new level. They can be the characters...make their own decisions...struggle to survive in the zombie apocalypse. Most recently, The Walking Dead released Dead Yourself...an application that allows users to create a zombie form of themselves by uploading a picture. They can then share this with their friends through social channels. It is "bloody" brilliant. The Walking Dead brand has given so much to the fans to allow them to totally give themselves to the story and its characters.
Step 5: Going Live
The Walking Dead is now capitalizing on interacting with their fans even more by putting on Q&A's with the cast and crew across the country in different cities. This allows fans to come to a theater, meet the cast and crew, and then ask them their questions about the show in person. These guys truly do it to celebrate the fans...and I applaud them. You can also go to Diesel Filling Station in the Virginia Highlands area of Atlanta on Sunday nights to catch a Walking Dead viewing party. (Cast and crew members attend this regularly so that they can watch the show with the fans.)
The Walking Dead is doing an awesome job celebrating their fans. They do so much to give their fans a unique experience at enjoying the story by engaging with them on social media, providing them with the 2nd scree experience, letting them play the story, and interacting with them in person. So...what's next for the evolution of social TV and the 2nd screen experience?