Leveraging Social Media/Gameification to Build Fan Base for ‘The Legend of Korra’ Launch

by Daina Amorosano, Viacom

In the past few months, The Legend of Korra has amassed a diehard fan base and grown its Facebook page by 400 percent. It’s making noise all over the social sphere, competing against – and ahead of – some of the most buzzed-about programming.

It’s pretty impressive for a show that doesn’t premiere until tomorrow (Saturday, April 14 at 11 a.m. ET/PT). The series is a follow-up to Avatar: The Last Airbender, which, after ending in 2008, incited fan sites with users clamoring for more of the American-cartoon-meets-anime show. We caught up with Jack Daley, senior director for Nick Marketing, to hear how he and his team used bits of new content and social media with a gameification layer to tap into the adult fans of the original series and migrate their fandom to Korra.

“At San Diego Comic-Con last summer, it was amazing to see how excited the fans got over simple sketches of new characters,” Daley said. “It struck me that the creators of Avatar and now Korra were showing these early pencil sketches, and the fans were oohing and aahing and couldn’t get enough of it.”

It became evident that there was a real opportunity to leverage the passionate adult fan base from the original series.

“After the series pick-up was first announced, there was an enormous level of excitement from fans, and we observed that any small bit of news about that show generated an incredible amount of social buzz,” Daley said.

So Nick’s marketing team built a plan to engage existing fans early and encourage them to share Korra in social to help bring in a much broader audience.

The architecture to aggregate that audience online and provide them with access to new content first materialized as the Korra Nation Fan Club.

“Through the fan club, we were able to lay the groundwork with hardcore fans by arming them with content that they could share through their social networks,” Daley said.

Knowing how rabid the fan base was for anything new, the incentive to join was that members would be the first to know about new content. Via email, members receive bites of content: pencil tests animation, production art from the animation studio and sneak peeks from the show.

Korra demonstrates fire and waterbending


Incorporating a gameification layer to the club further motivated fans to share.

Fans were rewarded with points for sharing and for driving their friends within social to view that content. The more shares and clicks, the more points they got – all redeemable for Korra-centric prizes (posters signed by the creators, downloads of iTunes episodes from the first series, unreleased music tracksfrom the new show, etc.)

Then, using the base of users acquired through the fan club, they launched KorraNation.com on March 14. After announcing the on-air premiere date of the series, fans were challenged to unlock the first two episodes of the series, in advance of the premiere, by reaching 100,000 new likes, shares and tweets.

The fans were all over this:

  • After reaching the goal of 100,000 social actions, the first two episodes were streamed on KorraNation.com, from March 24-26.
  • From the launch of the fan club to date, the Korra Facebook page grew from 37,000 to 185,000.
  • Korra peaked at 2.2 million mentions on March 24, earning more chatter than the season premiere of Mad Men, another show that returned that same weekend (from March 24-26), according to SocialRadar.

So a lot of noise was created and a lot of users were reached – all with minimal marketing costs. And the fans have had access to exclusive behind-the-scenes content. We’d say it’s been win-win for the marketers and fans alike.

The Legend of Korra premieres tomorrow, Saturday, April 14 at 11 a.m. (ET/ PT).

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