Who is Will Traveler?
I don’t know, and apparently Facebook (or someone) doesn’t want you to know either.
Last week, I wrote a blog post about how I found myself briefly running the social media marketing campaign for ABC TV’s new show, Traveler.
As you may recall, after watching the first episode of the series, I realized that ABC and the producers of the show had completely missed the social media boat. I logged in to Facebook to search for "Will Traveler," the missing character at the core of the show, and found nothing. Not even a basic Facebook profile. Talk about a lost opportunity.
So I did what should have been done in the first place. On May 31, 2007, I created a Facebook profile for Will Traveler.
I tried to make the profile as realistic and as ‘in character’ as possible, based on the facts I was able to gather from the show. I identified the school he apparently attended. I listed his interests (electronics, politics) and favourite movies (The Manchurian Candidate, The Conversation). I even cited a quote from Jack Kerouac, one of the character’s favourite authors, and had Will join a Jack Kerouac Facebook group.
I was particularly proud of the photo I chose for Will; I thought it was suitably ambiguous and mysterious:
In other words, I created a Facebook profile for Will Traveler that fans of the show would instantly identify as his.
The next day, June 1, I began finding friends for Will. I started with me (Bill Sweetman) and my colleague Collin Douma (of Radical Trust fame). I had let Collin in on my little experiment, and he was all in favour of it.
Since there were already a half-dozen or so ‘unofficial’ Facebook groups devoted to the TV show (created by fans of the show), I had Will add the creators of those groups as his Facebook friends.
By June 4th, Will Traveler had a growing collection of Facebook friends and was starting to get unsolicited Friend requests and messages from fans of the TV show.
Clearly I was on to something. And fans of the show were having fun.
Then, on June 5, I attempted to log in to the Will Traveler Facebook account and got this message instead:
"Your account has been disabled by an administrator. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information."
I immediately sent an email to Facebook, asking for clarification.
On June 5, I receive this response from "Justin" at Facebook:
Puzzled and somewhat miffed by Facebook’s seemingly arbitrary decision, I decide to try to find some answers
On June 6, I email Justin from Facebook and ask him how they ended up being ‘alerted’ to my Will Traveler account in the first place? Did someone (ABC perhaps?) lodge a complaint about it?
We will never know, since I never got an answer from Justin, and my Will Traveler profile remains disabled. In fact, as I write this, there is not a single Will Traveler profile on Facebook, although there are now 17+ Facebook groups (none created by ABC or the producers of the show) devoted to the Traveler TV show, including "Addicted to Traveler" (570 members) and "fans of ABC’s Traveler" (227 members).
So who is Will Traveler? And why was his Facebook profile really deleted?
Your guess is as good as mine.
One thing I do know: ABC TV and the producers of the show missed a golden opportunity to use Facebook to promote Traveler.