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American Horror Story: The Digital Marketing Strategy

American Horror Story: The Digital Marketing Strategy

It’s difficult to capture and retain the attention of viewers in this digital age. With big-name Hollywood A-listers being a part of the cast and millions of dollars being spent on television series, everyone is trying to grab a piece of the viewer base. Keeping viewers hooked has never been so challenging. As a result, networks are using their entire bag of tricks and also inventing new ways of keeping fans hooked. A big part of the strategy is to involve digital Marketing to help every season of a show stand out. Case in point is the hit TV series American Horror Story with its clever use of digital marketing strategy to keep fans guessing “what’s next.”

The hit series is produced by the famed creator duo of Glee, Ryan Murphy, and Brad Falchuk. They seem to have hit the nail on the head by capturing the imagination of the audience. Each season of the series is part of a collection of stories but has a self-contained storyline which makes for convenient watching.

The marketing team came up with a unique set of 26 teasers before the 6th season debut. Unlike previous seasons, the fans weren’t made aware of the theme of the current season but were lead on by the teasers.

American Horror Story has used comic-con as their campaign launch pad for previous seasons, and they used it this time around too for the 7th season. At the venue, fans were shown a video that led them to the website, where the theme was revealed. In their recent twitter campaign, AHS played on the fears of their fans by releasing a set of disturbing images which would keep them guessing. The Facebook page of the show has over 12 million followers, which provides curated content. It encourages viewers to play along, without revealing too much. The marketing team keeps fans hooked and guessing during the preseason rollout through various social media channels.

Stephanie Gibbons, FX’s president of marketing and promotions and Jason Phillips senior VP digital media marketing, teamed up to create an experience that was aimed to help fans be part of the experience of the series early on.

Here’s a summary of why the TV series has been so successful:

Social Media Promotions: To rope in viewers a show ought to be promoted where the fans hang out. And with 12 million plus fans on Facebook; the social media platform is fertile ground for engaging, teasing and keeping the fans hooked for more. Deploying this creative brand strategy has made sure that the popularity of the series is at a heightened state building up to the season premiere.  

The thrill and conversations around the theme: There are many deep-rooted psychological reasons why people like scary and gory videos and images. According to communications professor Glenn Sparks of Purdue University, though we know we’re not in the situation, our brain isn’t yet capable of adapting to the external stimulation of a scary motion picture. Our brain reacts as if it was happening right now. Bodily reactions like the increased heartbeat, sweaty palms, increased blood pressure and reduced skin temperatures are normal. There are various other reasons people get a kick from watching AHS, and the marketing team is doing a great job of keeping everyone satisfied.

To add to that, the mystery of the AHS series makes it a great conversation centerpiece. With bits and pieces of teasers, every fan joins in and creates their theories by trying to connect the dots. This keeps the conversation going even when the show is not on air.

Independent Seasons: With the series being an anthology, the seasons are all tied in together to the main theme, although they have a story of their own. That means anyone who hasn’t watched the previous seasons of the series doesn’t need to binge-watch before they start the current season. This also encourages new viewer additions. Especially those who might be curious to check out what the hype is about or what their social circle is discussing.

The success of AHS shows us that the creative use of over-the-top digital marketing content can work wonders in sustaining a loyal fan following of fans. If you’re looking to expand your digital footprint, let us help you strike the chords to engage your audience.

At Results Driven Marketing, we’ve been helping our customers join in on digital marketing trends, essentially “Turning Clicks Into Clients.” If you would like to be found by more people who are searching for your services, give us a call at (215)-393-8700 to find out how we can help.

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American Horror Story: The Digital Marketing Strategy


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