Stories That Evolve with Social Media

9 Oct 2012 - Mallory Zalkin is an associate in Corporate Communications at Time Warner.

On the heels of a Social Summit held at Time Warner yesterday, it’s clear that storytelling is evolving in new ways that allow consumers to connect with their favorite characters and plotlines on multiple platforms.

Here are a few examples of Time Warner brands that have extended the characters, storylines and conversation using social tools and strategies:

Fans of HBO’s True Blood, (or “truebies,” as we like to call them), get up close and personal with vampire favorite Jessica Hamby on her videoblog (image above). The site offers updated video clips and blog posts from the character that are tied to the series’ plotline. And VEEP viewers looking for more Selina Meyer turn to her YouTube channel and Facebook page, featuring content written in the voice of the fictional VP, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Last year, HBO launched the social TV platform, HBO Connect to engage fans, allowing them to augment conversations and join live discussions with HBO talent about their favorite HBO programming. Fans can see what’s trending, listen in on live chats with series’ stars and even ask them questions.

“We wanted to design a platform that allowed our fans to join conversations with HBO talent about their favorite programs,” said Sabrina Caluori, VP, Social Media and Performance Marketing for HBO. “It’s the water cooler re-imagined.”

TNT’s Dallas launched a complete 360° social media campaign leading up to its series premiere. The program included a Facebook timeline in which the character J.R. Ewing filled everyone in on what’s happened over the past 20 years – in hilariously cranky fashion. The Dallas characters were all brought to life, each launching a social media handle where they tweeted to each other (e.g., Bobby to JR: “Hey Brother!! Nice Hat!!) and engaged fans leading up to the premiere. Dallas had a viral reach of over 20 million before the series launch. Dallas’s interactive “Rise to Power” Facebook game kept viewers engaged throughout the season by asking fans to sides with a character and following along, rising in the game as the character succeeded.

Cartoon Network fans get to engage with their favorite characters through guest tweets and Facebook posts time after time – some of the most popular including Adventure Time’s Lumpy Space Princess, Regular Show’s Mordecai, Rigby and Pops and Total Drama: Revenge of the Island’s Chris McLean.

There are also plenty of examples of Warner Bros.’ using social media around new film releases and TV premieres. For instance, before The Campaign hit theaters this summer, fans where ask to join designated “Vote for Marty” or “Vote for Cam” Facebook pages while the characters generated buzz on Twitter.

In other words: it’s clear that new platforms don’t always replace old, but can augment storytelling in fresh and immersive new ways. And from what we heard yesterday, we have some great upcoming social programs from across the company to watch for. Stayed tuned, and stay social.