16 clever Facebook marketing ideas companies can learn from Breaking Bad
Have you seen the last episodes of the AMC series Breaking Bad? The dramatic development of a High School teacher and cancer patient Walther White from an inconspicuous family father to an unscrupulous drug lord kept millions of people worldwide on their toes since 2008. Breaking Bad has been overwhelmed with countless prizes (e.g. 10x the “series Oscar” Emmy) and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best rated TV series of all time (99 of 100 points at metacritic.com).
So far so good (or bad). But what does this have to do with Online Marketing? Well, the series was accompanied by excellent social media campaigns, which certainly contributed to its extraordinary success. I first became familiar with the series in 2012 via Facebook (q.e.d. bitch!).
The Facebook fan page of Breaking Bad currently has over 7 million fans and shows a level of interaction of about 10-35%. This is not surprising: The TV channel’s Social Media team does a great job of filling the Facebook page with interactive content.
In this article (which I already published as a german version), I summarized the things you can learn from Breaking Bad and how you can use these strategies in your company.
One request first: Don’t make the mistake of „switching off“ if you find yourself thinking thoughts like “well, but that’s a TV series, things are completely different in our industry” or “but that’s the B2C sector, we do business in the B2B area”.
Consider instead the principles behind each strategy (the tips in this article should help you). Nearly all of these things are applicable in some form or another if you adjust them to the respective contents, target groups and situations, regardless of the branch you are in. At the very worst you are simply the first in your branch. But that’s not so bad, is it?
1. Use of hashtags
Companies have a new possibility to distribute content and to initiate new topics since Facebook introduced hashtags a few months ago. Breaking Bad was quick to take advantage of this opportunity. There have also been additional hashtags used beside the obvious hashtag #breakingbad. At the end of the series for example, the creators of the series established the hashtag #goodbyebreakingbad.
[box]Tip: Use the hashtags in your Facebook posts. These can be general terms (to refer to a topic) or a term which is specially defined by you (to establish a topic yourself and to follow it better).[/box]
2. Click duels
Click duels are a good strategy to gain viral range [visibility?]. This works as follows: An image is being posted which consists of two pieces (e.g. two products, people or some things that relate to each other). One side is being provided with a request to share this image, the other side is being provided with a request to like it. So the fans have to decide which side of the image they like more and then they have to share or like it. One nice thing about these duels is: In opposition to “Click the like button if you like …” many more people feel called to do something to contribute to the spreading of the image.
Breaking Bad has carried out several click duels. During these click duels, considerable numbers of interaction (shares and likes) have been achieved, which were often in the five-digit range.
[box]Tip: Occasionally carry out a click duel on your Facebook page. You could for example place two national flags against each other before an international football match, compare two of your products or other elements which have a relationship to each other or to your company. [/box]
3. Viral apps
One of the best parts of Breaking Bad’s Facebook mix was the app which you could use to represent your own name as a Breaking Bad logo (“Name Lab”). Countless fans used this app and also used the image as the cover picture of their Facebook profiles afterwards.
The image was automatically provided with the hashtag #allbadthingsmustcometoanend, which indicated the end of the season.
[box]Tip: Produce an app with which the user can create things, which should also motivate them to share or spread the results in different ways. Build your logo, your URL, and/or your hashtag in.[/box]
4. Use of bit.ly links
Breaking Bad almost entirely uses shortened bit.ly links. This is because the links lead to the AMC-website. These links don’t have a very nice structure and may have confused some users when posted on Facebook. Bit.ly links can also be created individually (if you have an account), as you can see in the following example.
Furthermore, bit.ly provides statistical data to all their links which can be easily analyzed (just ad a plus sign to the bit.ly link). The Analysis shows: A lot of Breaking Bad links get five or six figure clicks…
[box]Tip: Use bit.ly to track your links. If you add an “.qrcode” to the link, bit.ly simultaneously creates an QR code for this link which is also being tracked.[/box]
5. Use countdowns
You can’t imagine New Year’s Eve without a countdown before midnight. But this strategy also works on a larger scale. For example, Breaking Bad posted an image every day with the number of remaining days leading up to the start of the last season. The image also included a chemical element from the periodic table, which related directly to the show.
Another countdown was used towards the end of the series.
[box]Tip: Are you planning a product launch? Is there a big upcoming event? Are there any other important upcoming things in your industry? Use a countdown on Facebook leading up to the event. You will certainly get clicks and likes if you do it right.[/box]
6. Live tweeting
Breaking Bad has done an excellent job of linking the different social media channels. They pointed out Facebook on Twitter and vice versa, and the blogs were both the contact point and content supplier for all channels. At the beginning of the last season, there was a special “goody” for the fans. The actor Aaron Paul (“Jessy”) twittered live during the broadcast of the season’s pilot-film. It made it much more interesting for the true fans of the series and it certainly contributed to the gain some followers.
[box]Tip: Try to twitter live during an event (which is interesting for your fans). Or even better: Win over a famous person from your branch who twitters for you from the event.[/box]
7. Unsual raffles
Everybody can raffle an iPad. You can’t gain (real and durable) fans with such a raffle. Therefore Breaking Bad has created very special raffles. You could win a trip in a caravan with the crew to the première of the fifth season for example or watch the final of the series together with the whole crew. THESE are prizes that get fans excited.
[box]Tip: Raffle something special which people can’t get anywhere else. If the prize has a close relation to your company, you also keep away the „scroungers“ who only take part because of the prizes. So you can also generate lasting contacts and perhaps also achieve sales from them.[/box]
8. Create an event
Especially important milestones of the series have been posted as an event on Facebook. Thus, a larger range could be reached and the fans could be reminded about the date of the broadcast. They repeatedly pointed out important events to the fans, which increases chances of success.
[box]Tip: Create Facebook events for important events and invite your customers and contacts.[/box]
9. Draw up a list
People love (check-) lists. The creators of Breaking Bad also know this and among other things, they drew up an interesting list at the end of the series: 10 things which you can do to prepare yourself for the final of #breakingbad. The link leads to the blog. 10 resources from AMC about Breaking Bad are listed in the article, e.g. online games, summaries of the seasons, videos, or newsletter.
[box]Tip: Create helpful, interesting and useful lists and share them on Facebook. You can use ideas like “10 ways to…” for the lists, but also titles like “the most common mistakes of…”, or of course „16 Facebook ideas which companies can learn from Breaking Bad“.[/box]
10. Take part in memes
Many so called “memes” have formed in social media circles over the course of time. These are ideas, habits and actions which have a special meaning for social media users. On Twitter, there’s the #FollowFriday for example, in which you recommend interesting twitterers to your followers. The #ThrowbackThursday is a meme where you post on Thursdays an image from your past, a look back so to speak.
Breaking Bad took part in the Throwback Thursday and posted an image of Jessy and his deceased girlfriend. Thus, the creators used an existing mechanism for much more range (you can see this among other things at the level of +100.000 likes…).
[box]Tip: Take part in such memes, e.g. the FollowFriday, the MusicMonday or the ThrowbackThursday. Thus you strike up a conversation and show that you take the social web seriously. And of course, it’s also fun for you.[/box]
11. Post personal stuff
Companies often make the mistake of being conservative and boring. Social media lives on a vibrant, unusual, and relaxed style of the people who take part. Throwing in some personality also plays an integral role. Breaking Bad has referred to incidents in the actors’ lives again and again, which allowed them to create a relationship to the fans, which goes beyond the characters of the series.
[box]Tip: Post something personal once in a while, even if you post/twitter for a company. Insights into your office life, personal statements of the employees, or birthday greetings spice up communication that would be quite boring without scuh statements.[/box]
12. Let users complete your content
Breaking Bad regularly asks its fans to complete the dialogue on an image or to find matching subtitles. Of course the users do this with pleasure, so there are often several thousand comments.
[box]Tip: Let your fans complete content which you predefine. This could e.g. be combined with a raffle. I just demonstrated a current example on my Facebook page.[/box]
13. Use profile pictures for you marketing
Some companies have been working for a long time with apps, which fans can use to add certain logos or badges to their profile picture. At the last football world championship for example, millions of people added a national flag or a corresponding icon to their profile picture.
Breaking Bad takes the use of profile pictures to an even greater level: At the end of the series, they posted a farewell logo and asked users to replace their profile picture with this picture. Thus of course an enormous buzz was the result because fans like and share the picture in their circle of friends and friends who don’t know the series will inevitably ask what it’s about.
[box]Tip: Use the profile pictures of your fans as “advertising space” by offering a badge generator for example. Think about a good idea beforehand which could motivate your fans to replace their profile pictures with a badge/logo or even a completely different picture.[/box]
14. Combine raffles and discounts
This is also a clever move: Breaking Bad connects raffles with discount offers. Everybody who takes part in the raffles not only has the chance to win something, but also automatically gets a 10% discount in the fan store. As a result, Breaking Bad was able to combine three advantages: Range, lead generation and sales increase.
[box]Tip: Carry out raffles occasionally on Facebook. Combine the participation with additional discounts to create more incentives.[/box]
15. Offer background information and answer questions
Breaking Bad was accompanied by much additional information. In its own regularly published online show named „Talking Bad,“ actors and members of the production team gave insights behind the scenes, talked about their experiences during the shooting, and answered questions from the viewers. The participants could submit their questions on Facebook.
Some other actors were answering questions as well.
[box]Tip: Offer your customers the possibility to ask questions. Not only about products, but also about general topics of your branch. Also occasionally engage a (in your branch) famous person who answers the questions. This method allows you to generate more attention than you could do alone.[/box]
16. Say thank you
Fans are valuable capital for companies. They help spread content, build close relations to companies, and could be loyal customers. So it makes sense to occasionally say “thank you” to them. At the end of the series, the Breaking Bad team thanked their fans for their loyalty with a nice group photo.
[box]Tip: Thank your fans at special occasions, such as anniversaries, the reaching of a certain number of fans, or other milestones in your company (even better would be milestones regarding the company-customer relationship). [/box]
With this in mind: Thanks for reading, sharing and liking. And have fun on Facebook! 🙂