I’m delighted to introduce my first guest post, written by Adam Paul. Adam is the executive producer of The Steps, a web drama that has recently started its second season. (Disclosure: One of the creators, Dylan Kussman, is a close friend, and I am a contributor to the Kickstarter campaign that funded this season.)

In addition to creative work on the (very) small screen, The Steps has showcased innovative and integrated marketing through myriad social media channels, using a variety of tactics based on larger strategic goals, as Adam explains:

As an independent producer of web and television filmed content, I should be much more savvy about marketing via social media than I am. Working with lower budgets just to get the story told, never mind marketed to the public, you’d think I’d have a firm grip on the ins and outs of using Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about my product.

But I don’t. It seems I’m always learning about some new way to cleverly reach out to an audience. A contest or survey or targeted ad or email campaign. But I’ve come to accept recently that that’s the nature of the beast. If new content is the fuel on which the internet runs, then social networking is the Internet’s true combustion engine. And there will always be a myriad of ways to fill the engine’s tank.

My current series, ‘The Steps’, is now in its second season. During the first season, we gave away a Dell netbook via a Twitter hashtag campaign and premiered the series at a ‘Device Party’ which encouraged participants to bring their own connected platform – be it smartphone or laptop or tablet – to our party event, join the wifi network there and simultaneously view the first episode together. We took out Facebook ads, rigorously administered our pages and found multiple distribution partners to screen our series to the widest possible audience.

The Steps

While our budget was raised entirely via Kickstarter.com’s brilliant site and a strong outreach to our production team’s networks, this year we’re utilizing far fewer event-based methods to actually promote the series. Aside from a weekly new episode release (Thursdays at www.WatchTheSteps.com), we’re letting the show gain traction through the simplest of marketing techniques: word of mouth.

Despite a compelling premise and world class production values, ‘The Steps’ is a unique animal in the world of web series –

  • It’s a drama (a noir thriller, to be exact)
  • It takes its time – far from boring, our series is a particular type of tale, with richly textured characters, strong imagery, and an overarching story that requires some investment from the viewer.
  • Like life, it’s complicated – the story’s hero, Charlie Madison, is a private eye with a habit of getting into trouble. He gets in his own way. He may have even killed his last girlfriend. He’s a human being who’s made mistakes, can’t forgive himself, but trudges on and tries to do the right thing.

That’s a lot to pitch to a new audience in a blurb or even a press release.

And so, our most recent revelation in the world of social media marketing has been this:

That’s right. A badge. We’ve asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter to use it as their profile picture for a week. Then we’ll change it up with another image from the show each week as we roll episodes out.

Simple, no? But very effective. No one has to beg their friends to check it out. Those who like the show just change their profile picture. Yes, we seed our social network pages with behind the scenes stills and notes from the creator of the show during the week between episodes. We keep topping off the tank of that engine so it can run loud and strong. But this little badge has proven to be the best way to get our name in front of the maximum number of eyeballs. Our followers wear it with pride, their followers see the bold url, and hopefully, just hopefully, we’ve penetrated their subconscious with our three-word call to action.

Adam Paul is the founder of Giantleap Industries, a digital studio that develops multi-platform content to bridge the divide between television, the web and wherever else you’re watching. ‘The Steps’ is currently rolling out new episodes of its second season at www.WatchTheSteps.com, Youtube.com/TheStepsWebSeries, Koldcast.tv and Blip.tv

All images provided by Adam Paul.