Social Media Managers have their work cut out for them; besides the ever-challenging process of creating fresh new content, you also have to make sure this content cuts through the clutter. According to advertising and public relations agency, Havas, in their latest ‘Meaningful Brands’ study, 60% of content created by brands online currently falls into the ‘just clutter’ category.

So, a lot of content created by brands is having little-to-no impact on business results or people’s lives. This is a dilemma.

Enter Netflix…

One way of gaining some inspiration in grabbing the attention of your consumers is to look at which brands are doing it well. One of those top contenders is the American, subscription-based streaming service, Netflix.

Setting the Scene: Netflix and Chill

Netflix is already well established in a social context, and has been sparking conversations for both its content, as well as the role it plays in popular culture. “Netflix and chill” was a phrase coined early on (if you’ve never heard of this, it’s essentially part of Tinder culture). However, this online streaming service has gone above and beyond to be part of conversations and set the precedent for creating hype about new shows online.

What can we learn from Netflix?

With over 130 million subscribers and counting, Netflix must be doing something right. We compiled a few examples of how they’ve used smart and innovative ways to solidify their place in the social media landscape.

Birdbox. This movie is about a mysterious force that kills the population of our planet through eerie circumstances: if you see it, you die. With a star-studded cast,including the likes of Sandra Bullock, the movie was first released on Netflix to the backdrop of tremendous media hype. According to Netflix, over 45 million accounts watched the film in the first week of its release. Netflix’s own self-promotion on social media gave the film even more momentum. They did this in various ways:

  • They chose to release the movie just before Christmas. A popular holiday time when people have more leisure time to relax and watch.
  • They put up billboards and digital ads all over various cities and the cast, consisting of A-listers like Trevante Rhodes and John Malkovic, coupled with the director Susanne Bier to work the interview circuit.
  • Netflix tweeted about the film’s release and got celebrities into watching it and tweeting about it as well.

In fact, some conspiracy theorists (or simply astute observers?) even went as far as to suggest that Netflix seeded the hype using fake and bot accounts to spark conversations and create memes about the movie – before and after its release.
Regardless, the internet got hold of it and soon… the #BirdBoxChallenge was born.

This challenge consisted of people doing their everyday things blindfolded, as if they were in the movie. People chose to document their experiences and upload it to various social media channels with the #BirdBoxChallenge hashtag. This soon went viral. Stills from the movie also paved the way for hilarious memes, which were shared on social networks, and truly gave the movie a life of its own in a parallel social universe.

Bandersnatch: Black Mirror. This is where Netflix really pushed into a new realm of interactive cinema, offering users the chance to choose the way the film’s plot would play out. Black Mirror itself has already enjoyed notable popularity with themes that are often uncomfortable and even border on disturbing: all to shake up the status quo.

In Bandersnatch, a young game programmer named Stefan starts to question reality when he is recruited to make a game version of an erratic writer’s fantasy novel. This episode of Black Mirror, however, came with a twist: the viewer gets to choose their own adventure and make decisions about what will happen next. Choices varied from simple:

To a bit more… er, complex:

“The interactive TV format could give Netflix a needed advantage in a crowded streaming market” – The verge.com

Social Media went wild as soon as Bandersnatch was released with consumers talking about the show, about their choices and about how they enjoyed navigating a myriad of endings, twists and turns.

  • Some users chose to live-tweet their Black Mirror choices while watching the episode.
  • “On the biggest day of Stefan’s life, over 60% of his friends from the future fed him Frosties.” – @BlackMirror
  • “Compared to the rest of the world, Brits were *less* likely to waste a good cup of tea (obviously). Bandersnatchers in Britain chose “throw tea” only 52.9% of the time. The rest of the world do so 55.9% of the time. – @NetflixUK
  • “73% chose to ACCEPT the job at Tuckersoft.” – @Netflix
  • “Out of the 5 main endings, the one where Stefan goes on the train with his mum *fights tears* was the path least travelled.” – @NXonNetflix

Using alternative and social data to drive decisions

Not only were users allowed to choose, but how viewers handled the various decisions: how long it took them to click on one choice or the other, how often they return to or avoided a given option during replays – all had an impact on the resulting timeline and plot of the story. Those choices also gave Netflix itself invaluable insight into how their consumers think and what they want to see more of, and served as a reference point of “alternative data” to cross check against social sentiment and reactions from viewers.

The content-bar has truly been upped

All in all, Netflix as a brand is a great example of finding new and innovative ways to cut through the clutter and give consumers different formats to interact with a brand. A focus on research, creativity and delivery has paid off for the media giant, which has mastered the art of making viewers sit up and take notice.

How does this relate to your brand?

One way for you to ensure you are up-to-date on the latest audience trends and insights, is by using media intelligence software. It combines the power of AI with the most comprehensive source database in existence to bring you advanced social media listening and management tools, with report-ready data.

Contact Meltwater to book a free demo or to find out more about our tools and software.