People Register In Droves To Work At 'The Office'

It looks like NBC managed to make a good thing better when it attached a stylized social network to its popular series "The Office."

As part of its larger "The Office 360" initiative, NBC launched The Dunder Mifflin Infinity site early last month for fans to congregate and perform weekly tasks tied closely to the story line of each week's show.

With the hope of further engaging viewers and their imaginations, the site goes so far as to assign registered users a position at Dunder Mifflin--the colorless paper company where the series is set.

Since then, the show's site has attracted over 800,000 unique users--100,000 of whom decided to enlist in the company's virtual workforce --along with eight million page views.

Not long ago, it seemed that every media and brand marketer was commissioning a social network to solve their reach and engagement issues. What they didn't realize, according to Gartner Research analyst Andrew Frank, was that successful social networks grow out of an affinity for a property or brand, and not the other way around.

"Marketers have learned that you need more than community features to build a successful community online," said Frank. "You need an existing affinity around a property, and NBC definitely had that with 'The Office.'"

NBC must have known that "The Office" had a highly engaged audience when a newsletter promoting its new site was met with a 73% unique open rate and a 56% unique click-through rate.

Since the summer, NBC Digital Entertainment has attempted to foster community involvement around many of its properties by adding new tech and content features. Its science fiction drama "Heroes" has received similar "360" treatment, which emphasizes multi-platform presentation like WAP mobile sites for new and returning shows.

Further using the Web to promote its TV shows, NBC last year filmed 10 Webisodes of "The Office" for release on NBC.com--the first time the network ever created video programs exclusively for the Web.