So we would be lying if we didn’t admit that one of us at Activ8social lists Gossip Girl as must see TV each week (and it’s not one of the women at our agency). Say what you might about the quality of the teen drama produced by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (creators of “The O.C.”), but it’s a weekly winner for the CW Network drawing nearly 4 million viewers on average. Equally interesting to us at Activ8Social is the CW’s winning social media strategy especially on Facebook.
In case you are not familiar with the show’s plot, the story revolves around the lives of privileged young adults on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in New York City. Starring Leighton Meester (The Roommate), Blake Lively (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as the unseen narrator, and Chace Crawford to name a few, the show has quickly risen to popularity in its first four years among the coveted 18-25 demographic.
Gossip Girl’s official Facebook Page clocks in at an impressive 8.5 million fans ranking #16 among all TV shows past and present—ahead of such household names like The Office (7.5 million) and right on the heels of Jersey Shore (9.9 million). Considering the relative unknown stature of the show’s cast prior to creation, the CW has a real gem across multiple screens. To the CW’s credit, the GG Facebook Page is given prime real estate on the network website as seen above.
While the CW’s promotion of Gossip Girl on Facebook is far from perfect, the show’s marketers do a better job than most engaging with its loyal viewers by asking questions, posting photos, and linking out to the official Gossip Girl blog. Few TV shows, if any, utilize blogging as well as Gossip Girl which blurs fantasy with reality by chronicling the lives and supposed whereabouts of the show’s characters as if Gossip Girl was real.
One element in particular of the show’s social media strategy that sets it apart from its peers is the official game Gossip Girl Facebook game called ‘Social Climbing’ which debuted in January to coincide with the return of the show for the second half of season four. Thus far, only a beta version of the game is available but the CW insists fans should expect a full version in the near future.
In the game, fans earn points as they attempt to grab Gossip Girl’s attention by attending parties, getting noticed by ‘cool’ people, dressing fashionably, flirting with strangers, and generally getting as wild as possible with the main goal of climbing the NYC “social ladder”. Causing scandals is a positive and doing the right thing certainly seems to get you much fewer points. Needless to say, the game is not exactly designed to teach kids traditional morals.
Social gaming is a growing trend on Facebook, given the rise of companies like Zynga which generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues from in application purchases. In Social Climbing, game items or power ups are available for purchase with Facebook Credits to assist users with making the social climb faster. Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment president, Martin Tremblay, had this to say about the game:
We recognize Facebook is a very important, growing platform for games, and for our first step in the space, we have made a fun game for hugely popular franchise Gossip Girl. Working with Warner Bros. Television, we are creating new categories of social games with built-in appeal to their extensive fan base.
Gossip Girl’s biggest fans are clearly obsessed with the show. Offering viewers the opportunity to live the life of one of the character’s is an intelligent marketing technique. While not a guaranteed monetary success and most definitely not a one size fits all strategy, social gaming certainly makes sense for established television and Hollywood media properties with a cult following.
A major investment of time and budget is required to build a Facebook game as well as an experienced digital marketer to understand the economics behind the branding and execution. Not all games are sticky, however, the major advantage of Facebook games over mobile games is that users don’t have to purchase the game upfront like they do an application so user trials are easier to come by.
Recently we’ve seen the NBA roll out a Facebook game called NBA Legend (check out our Social Mashup from February 21 for a review), the Starz show Spartacus debut in conjunction with a Facebook game, and the new Jake Gyllenhaal movie Source Code incorporate a Facebook Game as part of its pre-release promotional push. Social gaming is clearly becoming a main stream marketing tactic so expect to receive more than a few friend invites in the near future.
xo xo, Activ8Social.