What TV and movies can learn from Netflix social marketing

Netflix releases shows like they’re movies- all at once- but they have to promote them like good old-fashioned serial television shows in order to keep their existing audience’s attention while also attracting new audience members. That’s a complicated balance to maintain, and their success means that both movie marketers and television marketers can learn from the social marketing tactics Netflix uses.

Smart reliance on social proof

Netflix allows time for buzz to spread through viewers’ networks, letting their friends and connections see multiple references to the latest original release until they have time and decide to check it out. Then when those people watch it, they post their thoughts and the cycle continues.

Social proof via social media is one of the most powerful forms of marketing; your friends and acquaintances have similar taste, so you’re more likely to check out a show they’re raving about than one you just happen to see a random advertisement for. Netflix knows this and trusts in it and it pays off very well for them.

Targeted multi-channel social marketing

This is now more of a necessity than a luxury for most marketers at this point, but the importance of having a smart and targeted strategy across social platforms can’t be overstated. While Netflix’s approach to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook is a mixed bag of promotions for various shows concentrating most on whatever has recently premiered, they also do some very targeted campaigns around specific shows.

For example, when Stranger Things came out, Netflix did their usual mix of promotion across their social channels with some exclusives in each place (like this weekend wish on Facebook or Barb’s Magic 8 Ball on Twitter), but what really worked for attracting and keeping audience interest was giving the cast members room to share their experience with the show- and each other- on their own accounts. Audiences love to feel like they have an extra connection to the cast members of their favorite shows, so any movie or show that has a socially active cast should tap into and encourage those established social presences as much as possible. 

For Luke Cage, Netflix went a little further, establishing a standalone Tumblr for the show that taps into the platform’s network of Creatrs to produce original Luke Cage art to share into the show’s existing fandom.  The art mimics the style of graphic novels, calling back to the show’s comic book origins. It’s a perfect way to tap into an existing fandom with original content they’re hungry for from creators (pardon us, creatrs) they’re likely already familiar with. That brings in an influencer element that’s hard to beat (another type of social proof).

Luke Cage Tumblr

Finally with Gilmore Girls, Netflix created a real world experience that fans shared back across social in droves. We covered the Luke’s Diner coffeeshop pop-ups in our Campaigns We Love series, noting how they seamlessly pulled UGC into their social marketing with all of the media fans produced from the event. Another smart move was taking fans behind-the-scenes for the day on their Instagram Stories with the actor who plays Luke.

Final takeaways

Obviously Netflix has done extensive work to understand their audience, particularly their target audience for particular shows and what kind of marketing they’d be most responsive to. They’re very good at creating content that gets shared and re-shared as social proof within different networks, and trusting their cast members to strengthen existing audiences and pull in new ones by sharing their own experiences.

Any show or movie can benefit from these marketing moves. Don’t just create something you think your target audience is going to like; take the time to really get to know them, create an experience they’ll love and they’ll share it for you and get their friends and followers interested.

If you need help with that multi-channel listening (and subsequent tracking), we can do that for you.

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