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Twitter Fiction: 6 lessons learned from Tweeting like a Mad Man

A few weeks ago, characters from the show Mad Men started showing up on Twitter.  Fans of the show were immediately fascinated. In a very short period of time, hundreds of fans were following these characters and having conversations with them. The whole affair was widely considered a brilliant marketing play by the show.

It turned out the characters were actually just fans, and not in any way endorsed by AMC, the media company that produces Mad Men. I should know, since I was one of those characters.

This is a short article highlighting some lessons learned and how you can apply them to your own marketing efforts.

1. Let your fans be fans.

Let’s get the obvious lesson out of the way.  When your fans decide to do your marketing for you, don’t attack them.  If you’re worried that they might affect the integrity of your brand (a fair concern), be polite and respectful in working something out with them.  By no means should you take legal action.

2. People love to be connected to the people that they love.

The reason the Mad Men Twitter experiment was (and continues to be) so popular with fans is that they love the characters.  They wanted more of them.  The question you need to ask yourself is, "Do people love me?"  If the answer is yes, give them what they want.  Be accessible to them.  Whether you’re a real person or simply a work of fiction, whether you are based in the present or in the 1960s (prior to the existence of the Web), if people love you then you should really give them more.

3. Twitter is low-committal.

Since we’ve already established that it’s wise to be connected to your fans, there’s an evident issue of what the best medium is for making those connections.  You probably shouldn’t give them your cell phone number, for example.  With Twitter, people are restricted to 140 characters, and so are your responses.  It’s hard to be less committed than that.

4. Less is more.

Even with Twitter, it’s possible to overdo it. What became obvious from the feedback we were receiving as fake Mad Men characters was that some of us were writing far too much.  Don_Draper, for example, has been frequently congratulated on being rather sparse with his comments. The idea is to give glimpses into your life (real or fake), not use Twitter as a personal diary.

5. Twitter is great filler.

Especially when it comes to anything that has a scheduled publishing format (like TV, radio, magazines), your biggest fans want something to carry them over while they await the next release.  Dropping clues about what’s coming up in the next episode make for excellent entertainment.  Even as fans, many of the Mad Men characters became very skilled in pulling out little clues that the show had released about the next episode and using them as fuel for their posts.  This gives the Twitter characters a feeling of continuity.

6. Have fun.

Twitter is a social platform.  No one cares about your press releases.  We want to get in your head.  It’s personal, it’s invasive, and if you have a problem with that then you should consider staying out of this game.

One Comment

  1. miro
    miro September 10, 2008

    No doubt this was a fun way of connecting with the show’s fans.
    but how does one create scale with these social media events. There are lots of examples of truly creative approaches that yield small numbers – which ultimately relegate these initiatives into the “nice try but” file.
    Hundreds of followers will not be able to impact the show’s ratings or interest advertisers.
    Are we just preaching to ourselves?

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