I was driving into work at my consulting job at a hot social gaming company this morning and thinking about last night’s episode of Lost. For those of you who aren’t devotees, you should know it’s the last season and the producers have promised to answer all the big questions. The season’s been great so far and the buzz has just been amazing. So what’s this have to do with anything?
I watched the show last night while surfing the web on my Mac. I was reading the speculation posted by East Coast viewers of the show as well as official commentary from the likes of Entertainment Weekly. I was pondering the questions raised by bloggers while actually watching the show ….. and shockingly, this really added to my experience. It was kind of like having an experienced tour guide take you through the Louvre or a sports commentator during a football game.
Fast forward to this morning. Still thinking about Lost, I got into the car and heard two radio DJ’s discussing the show. They had obviously read the same blogs and reviews that I had and were talking about it on air like it was their original ideas. Their discussion raised even more questions for me. I needed to know. Was that actually Willy Wonka music at the end of the episode? So I called my friend Kevin. Kevin was actually listening to a podcast about Lost when he answered. Kevin started giving his theories, which were the same as the Blogs , EW, and the Radio DJs earlier that day (and attributed it to the podcast) We hung up and I received a text from my son from college. It read “Desmond is new Jacob”. I checked Facebook. My friend J had started a thread “Desmond = Jacob 2.0” How did this happen? Was this message planted? What an amazing phenomenon. Viewers posting theories, discussed online, then expounded by “real” members of the press as if it was unique thought.
This got me thinking about the role of marketing and message management in this environment. Do the marketing folks working on Lost at ABC manage all the communication? Do they anticipate what fans are going to think (and post) and message accordingly? Feed the message so that fans and press start speculating en masse? Does all this speculation change viewers involvement and engagement in the property? Does the instantaneous, multi-channel communication change the marketing approach ? The answer is probably yes to all these questions.
And these questions are likely relevant to any consumer brands with passionate, engaged customer bases. Video Games? check. Books? check. American Idol? check. Politicians? check. Southwest Airlines? check. Yet another data point that social marketing skills are more important than ever and for all brands. And speaking of social marketing …… you can follow me on twitter at nancymacintyre , so you won’t be Lost 🙂