The buzz today is all Breaking Bad, AMC’s Emmy-winning drama. Last night, the gripping finale gave an amazing conclusion to the saga of Walter White. Going from high school chemistry teacher to an international meth cook, Walter’s journey lasted 5 seasons, making last night’s series finale hugely anticipated among fans (including me!).
An hour before the series finale aired last night, I was on Facebook and saw on my News Feed that Breaking Bad was trending, and had 78 of my friends talking about it. And it was true–I scrolled down and saw post after post about the finale. People gave predictions, talked about past episodes and showed so much excitement. Some of my friends were even placing bets on whether or not he’d die!
While reading this week’s assignment, Chapters 7 & 8 in our textbook, I was constantly paralleling what the book was saying and how Breaking Bad does all of those things. Throughout the fifth season, the show started putting its Twitter hashtag at the bottom corner of the screen, encouraging real-time conversation about each episode. Leading up to the series finale last night, their social media presence was blowing up.
If you’re a fan of the show and you haven’t seen this Facebook page, definitely go check it out! The makers of the show posted a lot of great content yesterday, and last week leading up to the finale.
In reference to Chapter 7: Facebook: A Way to Engage With Your Audiences (Wilson, pgs 62-63, 2012), “How Brands Can Use Facebook”:
- 1. Build communities: If we are just considering the amount of “likes” as representative of Breaking Bad’s massive community/fanbase, they are off the charts with 5,862,250 likes on Facebook. And just note, that number is updated to the time of posting–a half an hour ago, it was at 5,831,619. Just sayin’.
- 2. Engage with Fans: Breaking Bad has gone above and beyond to engage with fans on Facebook. Not only did they take time to respond to people who posted about them, but they used several tools to keep people talking. Yesterday at noon, they posted an image that read: “POST YOUR PREDICTIONS FOR THE FINALE HERE”–in the same yellow and green, smoky theme that we all know and love. The single post got 19.5K Likes and 18.7K Comments! If that’s not a seriously huge conversation, I don’t know what is.
- 3. Amplify your message: Another really cool thing they did in the day leading up to the finale was post pictures of Jesse, a main character of the show, holding up a signs counting down to the final hour. One day before, they posted a picture with the sign saying, “1 Day Left, Bitch!” Because he was always ending sentences with the exclamation, “bitch!,” this was an awesome way to generate some love and laughter among the fans. They posted another 3 hours before the finale, “3 hours left, bitch!” This is a perfect example of connecting with your audience, because this is the exact type of post that a fan of the show would want to “share” with their friends.
These are only just a few things that the makers of the show and folks at AMC did so wonderfully. The finale was extremely amped up by the conversation and hype among the fans!
In reference to Chapter 8: Twitter: The Unstoppable Rise of Microblogging, “Twitter as an Engagement Tool”:
“Arguably the most widespread daily use of Twitter for engagement is that of the once unidirectional medium of television. News, current affairs and entertainment shows encourage users to share opinions through the relevant hashtags, making it easier to see and engage with other viewers in real time. This interactive process generates a much closer bond, and therefore loyalty, for the consumer to the program by making it personal and relevant” (Lacey, p. 74, 2012).
Breaking Bad used, and is using, Twitter in many different ways:
- Connecting the audience with the brand: Hours before the finale, stars of the show tweeted their emotional farewells and thank you’s to fans. Last night after the show, Breaking Bad tweeted pictures of our favorite characters with funny one-liners attached. They tweeted out a video from the cast saying goodbye to their fans. These are all great ways of getting a conversation started and continued among fans.
- The hashtag: #GoodbyeBreakingBad: Creating a hashtag for the series finale itself was effective because all through the show, people were tweeting about the ending and what might happen. Then today, the conversation continues with feedback about what happened. And lets admit, saying goodbye to something means that you cared about it. Making the conversation about saying goodbye not only generates hype about the final ending, but it also makes us miss the characters and the show itself.
- Promoting their merchandise: If you’re the ultimate fan, then you must have all of the memorabilia. Breaking Bad took this opportunity to promote their product line of all sorts of gear. They didn’t overdo the promotion, so in my opinion, this was a great chance for them to sell more of the brand and keep it out there for people to see (i.e. on t-shirts, mugs, keychains, stickers, phone cases, etc.).
Finally, one of the coolest things I saw come out of the series finale (other than Jesse Pinkman getting to live), was how other brands connected with the brand, Breaking Bad. Check out this article from Mashable, titled, “Brands Try to Have an Oreo Moment with ‘Breaking Bad’ Finale.” With everything from a Clorox ad featuring “whitey-tighties,” to an ad for Miller Lite, a variety of brands associated themselves with the finale event. I thought this was a really cool idea for them to do. Even though the show is about cooking meth, it is a realistic marketing and advertising tactic to connect with Breaking Bad because brands like Clorox and Miller Lite target the older crowd.
Breaking Bad and AMC have definitely used Facebook and Twitter extremely effectively. They have created an ongoing conversation about the show, and fostered loyalty with their fans that won’t fade anytime soon. The show will continue to be popular through Netflix, Hulu and sales of the series because people won’t forget about it. It is crazy how one TV show can create so much hype–hundreds of thousands of Tweets, Comments and overall conversations were generated. And that’s only counting online, not word-of-mouth!