As popular as zombies have become in our culture, I wouldn’t consider myself a big fan. The original Night of the Living Dead terrified me as a kid and I haven’t handled the concept well since then. In fact, the notion of a zombie apocalypse strikes fear into my core and I freak out anytime someone in a zombie costume comes near me. I’m a chicken.
So, why in the world do I now refuse to miss an episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead after years of avoiding it? Why do I sit through every episode even though I’m scared, sometimes with a blanket covering everything but my eyes? What compelled me to watch it in the first place? I’ll tell you.
Word of Mouth
The Walking Dead premiered on AMC in 2010, and my friends and colleagues wouldn’t shut up about it. Animated discussions bombarded me wherever I went. Friend freakouts spread on Facebook after every cliffhanger episode. I couldn’t escape the show or the fandom that followed it.
The word-of-mouth buzz followed me everywhere I went, and it got to the point where at least 10 of my close friends insisted I start watching it. Those friends weren’t paid for their testimony — The Walking Dead content was just so good that they wanted to share it with me so they’d have another person to geek out with. That alone might have been enough to push me over the edge, but I held on to the “I’m scared of zombies so I’ll never ever watch that show” mentality until my husband insisted and made me watch the first episode in 2012.
Do you know what happened after I watched it? I cried. And I vowed to never watch again.
Then I saw increasing numbers of favorable reviews, which brings me to my next section…
I don’t put tons of weight on movie or TV show reviews; however, a show with overwhelmingly positive reviews kind of makes you take notice. You don’t get an overall score of 82 on Metacritic and solid scores from droves of reputable pop culture sites by simply snapping your fingers! The show popped up on best-of and must-watch lists time and time again, once again bombarding me with its awesomeness. It’s hard to ignore a critically-acclaimed TV show like The Walking Dead when just about every blog you trust says it’s worth watching.
After seeing hundreds of positive reviews (in addition to the persistent word-of-mouth), I caved and decided to give it another try in early 2013. Screw my fear! I figured if I didn’t watch it then, then I’d regret it and someone would likely spoil everything cool about it. Well, just as the masses said, the characters intrigued me and the plot appealed to a part of human nature that only post-apocalyptic tales can do.
Yep, I was hooked. I knew I had to keep watching, despite the occasional nightmare from the subject matter. That’s how good the show is. However, I wouldn’t have gotten to that point without my friends’ persistence or without the countless reviews.
Now that I’m a fan, there are 2 more noteworthy things that keep me interested in The Walking Dead, which are:
Social Media Involvement/Campaigns
Holy crap, is there a ton of cool social media stuff for the show! AMC offers a Walking Dead social game on Facebook that’s a blast to play with friends. A social media hashtag campaign was spawned for the French release that ended up going viral (as much as I loathe that term, it really did). The Dead Yourself app is a huge hit, too, because it allows fans to zombie-fy any photo and share it on social channels.
Plus, there’s also…
The Walking Dead was a comic series before it became a TV show, and new comics are still hitting the stands as I type this. However, don’t be tricked into thinking you can pick up the back issues and know plot points in advance! The show doesn’t necessarily follow its comic origins, and the writers/producers aren’t shy about changing stories as they see fit. For example, some characters who have died on the show are alive and well in the books, and vice versa. I haven’t read them yet, but they’re on my list!
I enjoy having the variety of two different storylines because it keeps things that much more interesting. By delivering unique content in both the show and in the comic books, they’re giving fans more to love and obsess over. That’s just smart branding right there.
So, here are a few takeaways for your own company:
- Be the best you can be. Make outstanding content and deliver what you promise, and people will be happy to spread the word for you.
- Engage your core customers. The more involved people get with your brand, the more likely they’ll stick around for future offerings. Keep fans in the loop and they’ll come back for more every time (and bring their friends with them)!
- Use social media to its fullest. I can’t stress this enough — your company needs to be active on social networks. Don’t just create a profile and let it sit there; keep people interested with appropriate, shareable content.
- Actively seek out reviews from past clients. New customers will be reassured by them and overjoyed customers won’t mind leaving them.
Plus, due to space, I didn’t even go into detail about the show’s cast! You’d have a hard time finding a more talented group of people (I feel the same about Game of Thrones). Just as employees make or break a business, actors make or break a TV show or film. These guys and gals do it well. I’d highly encourage you to check out The Walking Dead, even if you’re a scaredy cat like me. If I can retain my fear long enough to watch, then so can you!
Do you watch The Walking Dead? What else inspires you to watch each week? How many times have you gotten freaked out while watching the show or reading the comics?
Image credit to AMC, Adam Glasgow, and PandaWhale.