Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pretty Little Liars, The CW and Transmedia

This Morning on the Twitters I noticed this article on Pretty Little Liars and it's social media marketing campaign. Now, if you aren't familiar with Pretty Little Liars or the CW in general, it's important to note that they have been actively reaching out to their fan base for years in a variety of experiments that seem to be paying off, if not all, at least enough to show the model to be viable. 

The CW, growing quickly thanks to a ready stable of shows growing from Alloy Entertainment's I.P. for teen girls, has always been quick to connect it's web presence to its TV schedule. Ensuring that soundtracks, products seen in the shows, and ancillary items (like books) were pushed in commercial spots online and available at least in part after the premiere of any new episode.

 A few years ago during the height of Gossip Girl's popularity, they created a facebook game that loosely followed a narrative, but was explicitly designed to get your social network engaged in the show. I played it at the time, was delighted that they were attempting to create a minor through line between the events of the episodes (I can join Dan and Blair at their internship meetings!) but stopped paying attention when the initial build of the connection between the show and the game petered off. It felt like a missed opportunity to me.

For a Show about a Gossip-Sharing Website with push to phones... maybe you could have more gossip on web and phones than just on TV.  
 I find that I lack a group of friends who I am willing to do invite to my "Transmedia Game Extension Book Club". [Those of you interested in helping me level up my My Little Pony social gaming network, help me get enough random McGuffin Ooze to play the Marvel Avengers Alliance Special Feature missions and any others that crop up, DM me on twitter.]

But I digress, my point is, if you're not social, these games aren't for you necessarily, but if you're a teenage girl with more social network than social life, you will dive right in. I was this once, I would have played all of them, endlessly. Basing my assessment of the networks success with these experiments based solely on the fact that they continue do to these things, it seems to be working. 

Pretty Little Liars premiered with a secret-keeping/sharing app on mobile phones alongside the television premiere. Coupling this with the sort of year-round multi platform marketing we're seeing from Networks across the board, it's compelling to see how these social extensions are changing the way television networks look at marketing. The CW realized early that Teen Girls were an underserved market they could own, and own it they have. 

The social factor for tween and teen girls couldn't be a bigger factor. While these extensions don't get as much press as they might, some pretty simple metrics, like those seen here, let you know just how strong the potential market for an additional extension can be, with the kind of social buzz you see here. 

The immediate product pick up from 17K tweets to a fake twitter handle would absolutely drive traffic to a webseries (or app, or book) that takes fans on adventures when shows are off the air, in ways that are different and differently engaging than a behind-the-scenes with actors.  Pretty Little Liars is just one show among many, that recognize the need for transmedia outreach to fans, but Pretty Little Liars and the CW are ones to look at for practices that take it to the bank for teen and tween girls, even when there is room for expansion into connected story lines and creative improvement on ancillary platforms. 

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