Rise Of The Super Fan

“Once Upon a Time.” “Homeland.” “Boardwalk Empire.” Sunday is officially the “Night of the Living Super Fan.” You know, the truly fanatical viewership that does more than just watch the show, they instantly discuss, debate, and analyze each and every scene and subplot. But there’s no show on TV right now that satisfies a super fan like “The Walking Dead.” 

Zombie stories have not only come with their own set of mythologies ever since Romero’s “Night of The Living Dead,” but have also enjoyed a strong cult following for years. “The Walking Dead” is the latest hot commodity to claim robust ratings, social check-in scores via GetGlue and some of the most expensive ad packages on network TV  – but I would argue that it isn’t just the captivating content that has created this monster of success. AMC has not only transformed a comic book fan niche into avid TV viewers – they have created super fans. 

While they may have taken a cue from past shows and their equally never-ending mythologies such as “Lost” or “Heroes,” “The Walking Dead” has arguably produced the most fan-friendly piece of content on television today – and managed to cash in on this success. Serving as inspiration for a horror-tour at Universal Studios during the Halloween season this year, the show also recently introduced a second screen experience for its most diehard fans during the premiere of Season 3. The “story sync” platform connected fans over polls displaying live viewer scores, trivia questions and opportunities to re-watch clips during commercial breaks.

AMC has become a one-stop shop for the super fan, who never has to leave its strategically crafted confines to engage with other members of “the hive mind.” This enables the buzz to continue between those who connect over shared plot theories on social media, message boards, the show’s website, even going as far as to create their own fan fiction.

The show is also a prime example of how, thanks to social media, writers and producers are truly listening to fan feedback now more than ever. This means that audiences today are playing a real and impactful role in developing storylines.

We can learn a thing or two from AMC when it comes to embracing next-level engagement, using platforms that go far beyond post-show conversations within the Twitterverse.  Additionally, AMC is proving just how important it is to listen to the viewers and act on their feedback. Fans today have the power to indirectly shape the future of their favorite content.

What does this mean for marketers? Well, by no means are all brands super-fan compatible, and that’s okay. It comes down to the importance of knowing your audience. In fact, it could be even more damaging to assume there is an opportunity for super fandom around your product if there isn’t a market for it. But if there is, how can we provide enough stimulating content to entice further engagement? Because in marketing today, if you’re not creating conversation, you’re simply not doing enough.

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