Netflix is such an interesting company. It’s shown how resilient it can be, often pushing the boundaries of what the public thought it was capable of. You only have to look at the stock drop when they moved away from home delivery of DVDs, and the articles questioning whether they should be producing original content to understand: Netflix knows how to be a step ahead.
It’s no surprise, then, that the smart people at Netflix are also pushing the boundaries in their marketing. Instead of relying exclusively on top-down messaging, they’ve invested in real people. Here are some of our favourite Netflix campaigns, and some ideas for how you can do similar work on a budget:
With an interesting “Hiring” page, Netflix put the call out for Instagram influencers. Smartly, Netflix understands that their primary target market (millennials) go beyond just watching tv shows - they really try to engage with their favourite stories. More than ever, we see behind the scenes looks in magazines and tabloids, sub-reddits dedicated to fan theories, fan fiction, and engagement in events like Comic-Cons.
The ask from Netflix was simple: tag your best photos with #Grammaster3, and the winners will be given access to the productions of their favourite shows. You can bet that the Instagram photos will flow from there!
Now, you might not own a set, but imagine having an influencer delegate (or two) tweeting at one of your industry events. This would help provide a unique perspective on your value from perhaps a more genuine, authentic point of view. And, it has the added bonus of making the delegates feel very valued.
Who is Cameron Dallas?
Cameron Dallas is actually a Vine star. At 22, he’s already gained global fame (by posting funny videos), won a Teen Choice award (for Choice Vine Star, which I was shocked to learn was a category), has managed to leverage that fame into serious acting roles, and was actually just featured in Wall Street Journal for his foray into fashion.
In the summer, Netflix announced that it was giving Cameron his own reality tv series. In doing so, they’ve aligned themselves very closely with someone who has reach and influence.
Now, Cameron lives a little closer to “celebrity” than “real person” at this point, but the idea is still relevant for brands who might not have the money to work with someone like Cameron.
What Netflix did was take their brand, and integrate it into something that was already happening - into Cameron’s authentic persona. Instead of forcing Cameron into an acting role playing another character, they’re working with him, and that makes the entire process and message more genuine.
When you’re working with influencers, don’t try to force your message through their megaphone. People are more likely to purchase a product when it’s recommended by another “real person” because they believe that message is authentic. That’s something to be leveraged, not forced!
Stranger Things’ Strange Marketing Plan
Stranger Things is inarguably one of Netflix’s biggest success stories when it comes to the production of original content. It’s also a show where traditional marketing strategies were completely ignored.
The lack of hype and exceptional content led to something interesting: viewers stepped up to fill the void - with Netflix’s encouragement of course!
They partnered with Twitch, a live streaming website, for an event that took place in the basement from the show. Viewers on Twitch voted on what would happen in the basement, creating an interactive experience that ended with the a sneak peek of the first episode of the show. While a group of people were actually in the basement, viewers threw everything the show had at them, including “flying books, flickering lights, doors that would creak open to reveal sinister, singing, dead-eyed dolls only to slam shut at random, ringing phones that would jump off their cradles when you tried to touch them, and more.” Well, consider everyone on Twitch intrigued…
Netflix also lets people explore the first floor of the house in virtual reality. The gambles paid off - people started talking, and they haven’t stopped. Even Stephen King has been tweeting about the show:
STRANGER THINGS is pure fun. A+. Don't miss it. Winona Ryder shines.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) July 18, 2016
Now, you might not have the budget for a Twitch event and virtual reality, but you can create experiences for real people who have influence in their communities. When you’re working with real people to get the word out, you can’t always control the message, but you can definitely create the excitement!
Looking for more ideas on how you can work with real people to market your brand?
Give us a shout! We’re looking forward to getting to know you, and what gets your community excited!