Social Spotlight: How Netflix uses social to create a brand experience
Welcome to the Social Spotlight, where we dive deep into what we love about a brand’s approach to a specific social campaign. From strategy through execution and results, we’ll examine what makes the best brands on social tick — and leave you with some key takeaways to consider for your own brand’s social strategy.
One of the first things I learned about getting–and keeping–an audience’s attention is that you have to give them something they can’t get anywhere else. And if you’re Netflix, well–you’ve got a lot to offer.
Netflix has gotten a lot right in its 22 years in ebusiness, from knowing when to go all-in on a digital platform, to building the gold standard of recommendation algorithms. Not to mention scores of hit original series and a brand name drop in one of the more ubiquitous memes of the 2010s.
And the same savvy that’s served Netflix well on the product side extends to marketing, especially social. There the brand has leaned hard into a “fan’s fan” persona by hiring movie and TV buffs to man its accounts and eschewing a multi-layered content approval process in favor of well-documented social guidelines that apply to the company as a whole. The resulting brand voice is approachable, clever without trying and authentic to the reason Netflix is beloved in the first place: people love to talk about what they’re watching.
But perhaps the biggest coup of all for Netflix on social is the ability to capitalize on the brand’s unique value propositions. You can’t get Stranger Things anywhere other than Netflix’s service, and you definitely can’t get Stranger Things behind-the-scenes content anywhere other than Netflix’s social handles.
Netflix drives a lot of social conversation–to the tune of 1.7 million brand mentions and 30 million engagements in the first two weeks of September alone, according to Sprout’s Listening data. Let’s take a look at what all of that volume is designed to do for the brand, both online and offline:
- Goals: Similar to last week’s Spotlight brand, Marshalls, Netflix’s strategy seems to focus on the key objectives of brand loyalty and awareness, with brand loyalty doing the heavy lifting to drive awareness. Because they’re so epically good at leaning into their unique value prop – namely, awesome content you can’t get anywhere else – loyalty is built into their social approach. If you love Riverdale, you want to go beyond the content in the show itself–to BTS peeks, star profiles, fan predictions–and following Netflix on social is the easiest way to do it. But driving awareness of its offerings is not far behind as a goal, and Netflix is at the enviable stage in its development where its product is part of the fabric of our social culture. Take, for instance, turning fan favorite moments from its original content into shareable gifs to arm followers with the perfect, oh-so-relevant social sentiment for any situation.
- Offline connection: Most B2C brands face the challenge of bringing a physical product to life in the digital and social space. Netflix, on the other hand, has wisely gone all-in to extend its online product to the IRL experiences of its audience in order to keep the brand top of mind. One great example is bringing to reality a key element of its Black Mirror series: the cultural kryptonite “people rating” app RateMe from the show’s third season. But lest the brand leave your physical body craving more Netflix, it’s also gone so far as to produce accelerometer-powered socks that will pause your binge session if you fall asleep, so you don’t miss a single minute of Mindhunter.
- Key channels: Netflix’s channel strategy has evolved in the past few years, as the popularity of its service has made it the leader in content streaming. Instagram in particular has emerged as a key channel for “extra” content – behind-the scenes peeks, selfies from stars and a look at what life on set is like. The brand is also highly active on Twitter, where it takes advantage of being able to listen in on what its fans are talking to and create reasons for Netflix to join the conversation (You’s awkward silences, anyone?).
But my favorite move in Netflix’s considerable repertoire is not being afraid to segment its audience by interest across multiple social profiles and personas. The relatively recent launches of dedicated Twitter handles for Strong Black Lead (African-American pop culture), Netflix is a Joke (comedy) and Netflix Family (G-rated fun) have broadened the idea of Netflix’s “brand voice” and created a more inclusive, authentic and relevant social experience for its diverse fan base. There are even Netflix-moderated Facebook groups that bring super fans of specific shows together to debate plot twists and share theories.
- Hot take: One thing I’d love for Netflix to consider more thoughtfully is hashtags usage on Twitter and Instagram. Netflix shares a TON of content of varying purposes, and hashtags would serve as a way-finding device for followers to find the information, entertainment or content they’re looking for from Netflix.
No hyperbole here, Netflix is simply killing it. From an authentic and diverse brand voice to leaning hard on unique, ownable value props in social, Netflix is making the most of their position as a content leader and extending the pleasure their product provides to the social experience for their fans.
- I said it last week and I’ll say it again: Find something that is specific and unique about your brand, product or service experience and lean into it. YOU own your products or services, YOU own your brand assets and voice, YOU own your customer experience. It’s the ultimate competitive advantage it will immediately elevate your social strategy.
- Real authenticity in brand voice requires bravery, which includes knowing when you don’t have the depth of knowledge, interest or resources to keep up with your fans–and being willing to turn the keys to your social voice over to someone who does.
- Take your relationship with data to the next level. Social is the Rosetta Stone for unlocking your audience’s true needs and desires, and you can answer those desires on a personal level if you’re listening and paying attention to your customer data.
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