Comic-Con is a big opportunity for many entertainment properties. A place where fans gather in a density found in few other events.

We looked at ten top drama shows to see who posted leading up to, during and just after Comic-Con to see who leveraged the event most effectively, and how their campaign performed. The shows are The Walking Dead, Grey’s Anatomy, Supernatural, NCIS, Once Upon A Time, NCIS: Los Angeles, Hawaii Five-0, Downton Abbey, Criminal Minds and Arrow.

Of course some of these shows are going to be more oriented towards the Comic-Con audience than others. The four shows which posted referencing Comic-Con are The Walking Dead, Arrow, Once Upon A Time and Supernatural.

Shows Posting About Comic-Con

Below, the Posting By Day and Engagements By Day charts show posts and engagements for all content in which Comic-Con was referenced. This includes posts from our selected TV shows with the hashtags #sdcc, #sdcc2017, and #cssdcc, as well as any posts mentioning the term “Comic-con”. You can see the brands and their social networks active on the topic of Comic-Con, listed underneath each chart. Two shows stand out for how much engagement they’re showing on the right chart. The Walking Dead and Arrow.

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Before we dig deeper into the tactics and content those shows are using, let’s take a benchmark look at the fan counts for each of our selected TV shows across their social media platforms. The chart below shows the fan count leaderboard for each show, by social network and total.

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The first thing to note is that while The Walking Dead has a total of over 49 million fans across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Arrow has less than 25% of that amount, at under 12 million total. Even more interesting, on Instagram, typically the highest network for engagement rate per fan ratios, the spread between The Walking Dead and Arrow is even greater, in favor of The Walking Dead.

So let’s take a look at the specific campaigns developed by our two leading shows, Arrow and The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead’s Comic-Con Social Media Campaign

Firstly, here’s The Walking Dead’s Comic-Con campaign, below, broken out by posting volume per network, engagements per network, and then the timelines that posts and engagements happened, by network.

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You can see the impact of Instagram on this campaign’s success. In the aggregate data in the upper two charts, Instagram ¬†represents only 22% of total posts per the Posts chart on the left, while Instagram has the majority of engagements in the Engagements chart on the right. This difference is also reflected in the timeline data in the two lower charts.

What did The Walking Dead do to generate this performance. Below is a breakout of their content.

The topic cloud at top indicates the related topics used in all the Comic-Con posts. In other words, when they posted about Comic-Con, what were they talking about. (The most engaging topics are red and in the center, while the most frequent topics are larger.) You can see ‘trailer’ as one of the higher volume topics.

Looking at the top posts in each network, just below the topic cloud, it’s pretty straightforward promotional content. The news story here is the return of the series on October 22nd. While the copy initially addresses Comic-con, it quickly moves on to push the fall return.

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Arrow’s Comic-Con Social Media Campaign

Now let’s see what Arrow did, below. Compared to The Walking Dead, Arrow generated a much lower volume of posting around Comic-Con. Almost half. But interestingly, Arrow focused most of their posting on Instagram, which we already know is a high-engagement network. So that would certainly help them achieve higher overall engagement levels.

So ideally we want a way to evenly compare the performance of the campaigns from these two shows.

One way to normalize the data between them would be to look at engagement rates on each network, or more specifically, Instagram. And here we again see Arrow significantly outperforming, 3.2% to 2.5%, as shown in the lower right of the Engagements charts for each show.

Of course, Arrow’s Instagram following is about 20% the size of The Walking Dead’s, so that’s a big helper towards achieving higher engagement rates. We can also look at total engagements generated by each campaign on Instagram. Arrow has about 1.2 million, while The Walking Dead has over 2.3 million.

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So a consistent theme here is that while engagement rate is a good indicator of a brand’s success, community size definitely drives a lot of that impact. At the end of the day, you want both.

It’s still impressive that Arrow is generating such high engagement rates, so let’s see what they posted, below.

Looking at the content of the top posts in each network, you can see a very different approach. Featuring the stars, Arrow’s posts have a more personal feel to them. And we know TV is heavily star-driven. I personally prefer this approach, as it creates a more human link between the show and the Comic-Con event.

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Producing Real Results

Now, a fair comment at this point might be, great, but how did this activity impact their communities? One of the best metrics we have for analyzing a page we don’t have website analytics data for, is looking at whether or not the activity resulted in people joining the communities of the shows involved in the posting. Did what the brand post make people say, More please.

So the chart below shows the fan growth rates for all of the TV shows considered here, broken out by network. For some of the networks, we don’t have historical data going all the way back to the beginning of this campaign period, July 14-24, so there’s a blank for those instances. Looking at the data available, it’s notable the only four shows with above average fan growth were the four posting about Comic-Con on some level. And The Walking Dead and Arrow, the two biggest posters of Comic-Con content, are the leading brands in community growth.

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Summary

Taking part in relevant current events is one of the best ways to bring impact to your brand’s social media content. In this analysis, we’ve seen some strong justification for that. It also appears that this tactic produced a very real result in the form of community growth.

Analyzing other brands may not have the granularity you can bring to your own campaign analysis, but it does offer insights into key tactics, how they realized those tactics, and what some of the high-level results were.

Zuum can bring a lot of insight and benchmarking understanding to your brand and any set of other companies you’d like to analyze. You can get a free trial by either going here, or emailing us at knockknock@zuumsocial.com.

Questions and comments are always welcome.