Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What Your Small Nonprofit Can Learn From the Sharknado Twitter Storm

Did I jump on a meme bandwagon? Please - if that were the case, I'd be doing a post on the royal baby.

Nope; what we got here is a kind of failure to communicate. This wacky movie about sharks falling from the sky got so much Twitter press I heard even one U.S. Congressman hoped a vote wouldn't delay his being able to watch it.

So what was the end result of all this hype? I guess that depends on what you were hoping for, if you were Syfy.

Tornado o' Coverage

First off, let's stipulate that Sharknado got lots of Twitter coverage. Lots. As in thousands of posts. No doubt the name itself was a large part of its popularity. And who doesn't like a monster movie with low production values (I've been a fan since Creature From the Black Lagoon)? Some tweets panned the acting and some the rubber and some the CGI, but as Oscar Wilde once said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

Did the Coverage Result in Increased Viewing?

No. That's the interesting part. Twitter was full of #sharknado tweets, but viewing for the movie itself was pretty low (by Hollywood's standards). On the other hand, lots of celebrities tweeted about it. One of the last communications by Glee's Cory Monteith was about Sharknado:

So what was the result? Yep; Syfy just ordered Sharknado 2.

What can we learn from this in terms of social media?
  • Lots of buzz doesn't necessarily mean you get what you wanted. Of course, I'm assuming that what Syfy wanted was eyeballs on the film.
  • Not getting what you wanted isn't necessarily bad. So they didn't get viewers. But they did get noticed. Maybe they'll get new fans for the channel and maybe they'll get new brands that want to advertise. For sure they connected with brands on Twitter.
  • You can get enhanced branding. Maybe it didn't trend on Twitter, but it did on Google as a Hot Search. And now it's probably got street cred as the cable channel you go to when you want creature features.
  • Not getting what you expected but getting something else is a situation you should jump on with both feet - when Syfy saw that #Sharknado was getting 5K tweets a minute (at its peak), they revised their website to showcase a link to a rebelmouse page on it.
And consider this - in the olden days (pre social media), a low viewership would probably have been the end of the road for Sharknado. But thanks to Twitter, the producers, writers, actors of the film will be getting another project and the film itself is being lauded as a new camp classic. You can't buy that kind of press.

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