Do Social Media Strategies Go To Heaven?

June 26, 2008

in Social Networking,Television

A few days ago we installed the second round of additions to the WIRED SCIENCE Facebook application (which I discussed first here). We gave the application more elements (10 elements, instead of 5), more compounds (55 compounds instead of 15), and I redesigned the quiz algorithm (and added one more question). Take the test again or install the app to see the new additions.

Although I just added the final touches to the application, the show is out of season and will not be coming back to PBS. The series was canceled, which is unfortunate, because the show had great potential to reach a younger audience for PBS (“young” meaning older than the Curious George crowd but younger than the older demographic). In addition, it had great social media potential (in my eyes), but needed some time to get off the ground (i.e. another season). Either way, we are in the phase of evergreening the site, shutting down the blog, and slowing things down.

The show’s cancellation has me asking myself, where do social media strategies go when they’re no longer needed? So far, the results of our most significant strategies are:

The Facebook application is especially interesting to me because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Since launch, the application has been averaging 100 new installs per day. This is with no paid promotional activity whatsoever. I don’t expect this to stop anytime soon, because I don’t think we will reach a ceiling going at this (slow but) steady rate of installation (considering the number of users on Facebook). I designed the application to be viral enough for it to self promote. I suppose I could turn those activities off if I wanted to.

For the blog, we have decided to stop all posting, write our goodbyes and leave commenting open for a few weeks. We will then shut down all comments, and leave the blog up for the sake of Google and reference.  I am not sure what to do with the Twitter account. It essentially was a machine for the blog and site updates, but with no more site updates, what else is there? I suppose the Facebook fan page can stay in place, however we’ll probably put up a notice about the show and site saying farewell.

 I feel like I am divorcing or “putting out” a community I spent months building and nurturing. Now that we don’t have the time and resources to support it, what’s the best way to properly memorialize it? Any thoughts on what we (or any media entity using social media) should do in a situation like this? If situations like this are concerning for TV shows, should we even bother with such strategies, and just let the fans do it organically on the web?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Hashim Warren June 26, 2008 at 6:51 PM

you bring up a point that makes me hesitate to put any real effort into social media marketing. All of the relationships that were built using those services cannot be easily tapped again.
If you went after email addresses instead of Facebook installs, and mobile numbers instead of twitter followers you would have a database of people who can be reused for the next campaign by PBS.

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Lynne d Johnson June 27, 2008 at 5:01 AM

@Hashim Warren, you bring up a point that shows the importance of having more action in the arena of data portability. As well, it brings back the question of who owns your social graph. We should be able to move the communities we spend time cultivating from app to app, service to service, network to network — easily.
On another note, in this case, the current setups can be used to direct attention to other projects. Those people are not dead to being contacted again using these social media services. Besides, if you’ve got a bunch of interns, you can do some digging to get enough info on most of the folks that signed up for any of facebook fans and twitter followers. Sure it’s not ideal, but it there are workarounds for almost anything.

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Lynne d Johnson June 27, 2008 at 8:08 PM

I have given this post more thought. But even more so, Hashim’s reaction to it. I realized that in my initial response, I responded to him, but didn’t really respond to the questions you asked.
Do you kill it? Do you let it peter out and die?
Since Wired has the rapt attention of so many people , from so many social media avenues, I think that although the show isn’t going to continue, it’s an opportunity for them to continue the brand online. Sure the numbers may not be dense enough to consider continuing the show on the Web, but who knows, it might be. The brand (show) could be reinvented as a Web show. Right, I know, the PBS show had sponsors etc, this means more work for marketing and sales, but if the audience is already there — does it really mean more work?
That’s one scenario I thought of.
The other scenario, is to keep the relationship alive just enough so that when launching other products this becomes your core group of testers. You convert those people into Wired readers, if they aren’t already, convert them into Wired blog readers, etc. Figure out some method of converting them to users of other Wired products. Again a job for marketing, but nonetheless, worth it.
But again, this is why we have to fight for ownership of the social graph. We need the right to contact these people outside of the walled gardens, we need the right to own that data, and in this case, all the data you have on who installed, who commented on the blogs, who fanned, and who followed. That community should belong to WIRED.

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Bill Cammack June 29, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Welcome To The Dead Pool

A lot of shows and sites have been receiving the Fail Whale recently.
There’s nothing wrong with failing. Happens all the time. “Happens to the best of us”. Sometimes, it’s not actually a failure so much as an inability to m…

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Liz July 7, 2008 at 12:40 AM

Hashim: Thanks for your input. I agree about SEM for TV properties. Not only is it difficult to get going, it takes time to mature and maintain. By the time you’ve gained traction, the show is out of season (or ended taping for the season) or the show may have been cancelled. I could turn the data over to a new project, but I think I would feel shady doing that to users.
Lynne: I think Data Portability could be an interesting concept from this perspective. I often think of it from and end users perspective. On the other hand, I am not sure how comfortable I am allowing a company to port my data over to a new project or entity. I am one of those people who doesn’t check the box when asked if a company can send me other information about related properties.
As for wired, I thought about turning over the twitter account to the Wired Science blog on wired.com since they’re a popular blog in their own right and could use a twitter account–so why not get one that’s already built in with some users? I think users may not mind so much, since it is a related property. That’s definitely a unique yet convenient and compatable solution. Though, I am not sure if this were the case if I had a different show/brand to work with.
Mayhap I will pay more attention to Data Portability from the other side of coin though, thanks for bringing that up.

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Natasha July 9, 2008 at 8:37 AM

Great discomfort settles in when I hear terms like “reusing people” or “communities belonging to an organization.”
People can’t be used and the communities they decide to join cannot be owned by any one entity. Instead, people are consulted and the communities they belong to nurtured.
Social media sappiness out of the way, there’s the would’ve/could’ve approach: have an exit strategy before you start.
Then there’s the here and now approach: leverage the brand in perpetuity with DVDs, online downloads, 360 content (behind the scenes clips, getting to know you profiles, etc)
Had an exit strategy been in place, your SMM work would have been wrapped up almost as easily as the show. The goal would have likely been to leave the younguns with warm fuzzies about PBS.
What are some options for now. Was a DVD in the works? If so, there’s good reason to put more fuel into the Facebook app and urge the Twitter followers to adopt. Alternatively, an extended contract and a bit of work from the tech team means a series of viral online downloads (“bumpered” with new, short and relevant, online only content) that…leave the younguns with warm fuzzies about PBS (or whatever the directive is that you all have for dealing with the youth demographic).
In any case, while it’s a great addition to your performance portfolio, I hear your pain!

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Natasha July 9, 2008 at 8:38 AM

Great discomfort settles in when I hear terms like “reusing people” or “communities belonging to an organization.”
People can’t be used and the communities they decide to join cannot be owned by any one entity. Instead, people are consulted and the communities they belong to nurtured.
Social media sappiness out of the way, there’s the would’ve/could’ve approach: have an exit strategy before you start.
Then there’s the here and now approach: leverage the brand in perpetuity with DVDs, online downloads, 360 content (behind the scenes clips, getting to know you profiles, etc)
Had an exit strategy been in place, your SMM work would have been wrapped up almost as easily as the show. The goal would have likely been to leave the younguns with warm fuzzies about PBS.
What are some options for now. Was a DVD in the works? If so, there’s good reason to put more fuel into the Facebook app and urge the Twitter followers to adopt. Alternatively, an extended contract and a bit of work from the tech team means a series of viral online downloads (“bumpered” with new, short and relevant, online only content) that…leave the younguns with warm fuzzies about PBS (or whatever the directive is that you all have for dealing with the youth demographic).
In any case, while it’s a great addition to your performance portfolio, I hear your pain!

Reply

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