The Walking Dead Premiere: Social Media Failings

Like millions of other people, I sat wildly awaiting the premiere of season 5 of The Walking Dead this past Sunday. The perils of Rick Grimes and the gang, however, is not the topic of this post (so no spoiler alerts! Yay!). This post is about a few things that were just improperly handled when it came to social media and the premiere of my favorite show about zombies and post-apocalyptic survival.

The Walking Dead Season 5 Second Screen Experience

A campaign that is dragging its feet

I’m a fan of second screen, being one who is constantly checking the online chatter surrounding shows, events, and stories. So I was delighted to see that AMC was embracing the second screen usage of its fans right from the onset of season 5 — sending people to a website where they could play along with the show. I obviously went straight there. And that’s where things went awry.

The second screen experience, called Story Sync, was that of telling how you’d handle scenarios, voting on the level of gore in specific scenes, whether you thought someone was going to make it or not, and some behind the scenes type stuff. Kind of a fun idea, but I found it to be overall pretty distracting from the actual show. This is where I feel the disconnect is. People typically like to check what others are saying by following the dedicated hashtag and adding their own input, and this didn’t really add to the social experience. The connection to Twitter was pretty generic, no feed from the hashtag or real sharing opportunity to be found.

I could have forgiven that, however, if it weren’t for what happened next. Rather than keeping people engaged and interested during the commercial break — y’know, when most people are checking the second screen — you’re shown ads from the sponsor. So you’re served up ads as you try to find distraction from ads. Not quite a success. No contest, no engagement, just a static ad for a tablet. My attention was pretty quickly lost. I was really disappointed in that, and I hope AMC does something better with that time and the attention they could have. Otherwise, I’ll absolutely abandon this second screen experience for a real one. Namely, my Twitter stream.

My recommendations: use a branded model for your advertising (one that’s visible but not dominant) but try to engage people during commercial breaks and get them sharing the hashtag using some Twitter integration directly from your second screen page. Try doing “vote using this hashtag” or something to keep people from going elsewhere during the commercial break. Don’t just drop a static ad (especially one that is the same ad on my damned TV).

Ads that should be beheaded

All that being said, I can forgive it as AMC continues to work on fully embracing the full second screen experience. Some of the promoted posts I saw on from other brands on Twitter though — just no. NO, NO, NO, NO. Don’t promote a post and jump on a hashtag with a stupid plea for engagement. Like below:

Die Hard Walking Dead Twitter promoted post

C’mon guys. Really? A plea for empty engagement? An unnecessary tie-in? Stop it. You might as well be using the “Retweet a picture of this llama, for no reason” strategy. Also, this:

MTV's Twitter post for The Walking Dead

Pardon my language, but what the actual fuck? Paper dolls? What the hell does that have to do with an intense, high-anxiety, apocalypse survival show? Can we have tea time with Rick Grimes next? To play off the old adage: if you don’t have something nice to tie in, don’t tie in at all. And with that, there’s also Kotex:

Kotex Walking Dead season 5 premiere tweet
Image courtesy of Refinery29

I rolled my eyes pretty hard at that one when it was brought to my attention by M Mallory on Google+. Hat tip to Refinery29 for having a post about it so I could find it.

Look, I get that brands want to be a part of something popular. And I know everyone is looking for their “Oreo moment”, as its been dubbed. But just stop. If it happens, it happens. Stop trying to force yourself into popular things, and feigning real association to try and connect with people. And stop clogging my feed with ads that just make me roll my eyes.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Are these, in fact, poor tie ins? Have you seen similar things with some of your other favorite shows that make you crazy? Share them below!

Now, go get your social on!

Author: robzie

I am a marketing professional who has a specific interest in social media and digital marketing. I love the outdoors, especially in the summer. Confessed coffee addict, social media nerd, and office supplies junkie. Feel free to contact me and start up a conversation!

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