'Walking Dead' Zombies Follow Twitter Fans -- Grunting Ensues

by , Jan 14, 2013, 3:49 PM
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Some Twitter followers are people of few words -- or grunts. To promote the debut of “The Walking Dead” on French television network NT1, Darewin created a reverse-psychology social media campaign, announcing that the walker virus – a factor  in “The Walking Dead” – had contaminated all NT1 employees, and asking Twitter users not to tweet the hashtag #WalkingDeadNT1 or comment on Facebook and blog posts containing said hashtag.

Naturally, thousands couldn’t resist the forbidden – and once Twitter users tweeted the hashtag, more than a dozen zombies would start following them on Twitter, retweeting their messages and sending them pithy remarks like “GRR” and “AAAGH.” Diehard fans of the show can attest that walkers have minimal communication skills, grunting and moaning their way through the world.

When someone shared, commented or liked a “Walking Dead”-related post on Facebook, they were soon poked and receiving friend requests from zombies.

All zombie profiles included links to WalkingDeadNT1.com, a microsite with programming air times.

“3,222 tweets were made throughout Western Europe and the US, and ‘attacks’ totaled about 30,000 on Facebook, Twitter and blogs,” said Wale Gbadamosi Oyekanmi, founder of Darewin. “20,000 Facebook fans were recruited during this time.”

The campaign lasted for 12 days, leading up to the first episode. Despite the massive popularity of “The Walking Dead” stateside, it’s just debuting in France.

One thing that worked to Darewin’s advantage was the fact that Twitter would delete the zombie accounts shortly after they went live. “A total of 357 zombies were created and destroyed,” said Oyekanmi. “Twitter ‘killed’ the accounts, sometimes hours after we made them, so we had to keep making more -- like with real zombies! NT1 benefited from this setback with some improvisational storytelling: the ‘Sanitary Services’ department, charged with cleaning up the zombie contamination, were the real people responsible for the sudden disappearance of zombie followers.”

Ten people monitored social networks throughout the campaign for real-time responses.

“Attracting viewership from social media users was crucial for NT1,” said Oyekanmi. “It took two years for ‘The Walking Dead’ to broadcast in France. It's one of the most pirated shows in the world. And in France, it's forbidden to users younger than 16, meaning it airs at an extremely late hour -- after 11 PM.”

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