3 things I learned about social media from the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special


If you read this blog or any of my personal social media feeds, you may have noticed that I'm just a little bit geeky.

OK, a lot geeky.

And, like many of my fellow geeks, I like "Doctor Who." Not as much as some of my friends, but I enjoy it enough that I eagerly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed the 50th anniversary special that aired in late November.

Looking back, I think that special can teach us a few things about social media. For those who still haven't seen it, I'll endeavor to avoid spoilers here as best I can, but many of the links do contain spoilers, so please click at your own risk.

1. Always focus on what your audience wants.

The term "fanservice" sums up a lot of what writer/director Steven Moffat did with the 50th anniversary special. Not only were all the Doctors involved in the plot (as was heavily promoted ahead of time, so that's not a spoiler!), but there were a lot of little asides, blatant references and subtextual clues throughout the special that were clearly speaking to the fans. And it was still a darn good story, to boot.

Ask yourself: Are we posting content our audience wants to see, or simply what our organization wants to post? How can we be more audience-driven?

2. Surprise and delight your audience.

The 50th anniversary special took some unexpected twists and turns, some of which deeply altered the established narrative of the series (because, well, time travel), which I think took a lot of people by surprise. And there were unexpected cameos by people from the series' past that made several people in the theater squee with delight.

Ask yourself: How can we surprise and delight our audience? Are there certain kinds of behind-the-scenes content that might resonate well (i.e. Instagram videos of staff doing something interesting)? Are there little surprises we can include at our events?

3. Give them something to look forward to.

The 50th anniversary special helped set the stage for the Christmas special, hotly anticipated this year because it marks the transition to a new Doctor (played by Peter Capaldi). By not only satisfying a lot of fan wishes with the 50th but also teasing them with new content coming soon, they've effectively kept fans' attentions for longer than one special would have on its own.

Ask yourself: Are we doing enough "curiosity marketing"? Do we give people sneak peeks of upcoming events? How else might we build anticipation?

How about you? Can you think of any other lessons we can learn from "Doctor Who" and apply to social media work?