Part of the fun of sxsw was getting to meet people whose work I’ve admired only from afar. Steve Hall. Guy Kawasaki. Frank Rose. Henry Jenkins. And Roger Sterling aka Michael Bissell. Here we are, with Peggy Olson aka Carri Bugbee after the panel we had the pleasure of giving. During Behind the Scenes with Mad Men on Twitter , Carri summed up learning for all of us, which constitutes great advice for entertainment brands seeking to create what I call brand fiction:
1. Reserve twitter addresses for the names of all characters for projects in development. If a character’s name isn’t available, you might want to go so far as to change it before you launch the show. Because if the name isn’t available, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to retrieve it.
2. Monitor (constantly!) what’s being said about your brand in digital space. If you’re not following what people are saying about you on Twitter, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of critical data.
3. If you find yourself in the middle of a maelstrom as AMC did upon Twitter accounts shutdown, don’t bury your head. Use the dustup to your advantage. Turn the tide, as AMC did when they made sure accounts were up and running again within 24 hours.
4. For most companies, the hardest part of venturing into social media is relinquishing control they’ve taken for granted was theirs. But real-time conversations can’t be submitted for approvals. Content creators stand to gain enormously when they allow “hijacked” efforts that blur the line between brand infringement and brand extension, encouraging passionate support of advocates who will drive engagement deeper within their communities.
5. The new marketing model's component of twittertainment is surprisingly time consuming, given that posts are just 140 characters. But doing a good job takes not only adroit postings, it takes research and reading and active monitoring across a variety of platforms. Don’t expect it’s a job that current staff can simply add on. And when you choose a community manager for the role, be sure it’s someone who’s energetic and outgoing and loves to perform—look for someone who’s a bit of a ham.
6. Assign one writer to several characters. Only by controlling multiple characters, can you stage spontaneous scenes and mini-dramas which won’t work as well if characters are controlled by people who need to be coordinated, over timezones and schedules. If one writer can handle more than one character in a book or screenplay, she will prove to be equally dexterous in this medium.
If you’d like to read more, Texas State grad student Chris Troutman just posted an interesting review of the Mad Men on Twitter panel, complete with footage. Daniel Terdiman did a thoughtful writeup about what our work means for the future of marketing. And check out Supporting Characters, a consultancy that Carri and Michael and I are forming, with others. (And now back to our regularly scheduled program.)