Thanks for the great question.
The complicated answer is sorta but the basic answer is no.
In April 2012, DECA decided to offer to pay for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. What they had seen at that point was no more than four videos. So those of you who were around back then should note that the Bing, Darcy, Caroline twitter accounts had NOT been revealed at that point and neither had things like Lydia’s spinoff or Jane’s Lookbook.
So technically social media didn’t lead to any financing. The execution of us telling a classic story in an economically viable way to that point did. Now contractually, our only obligation for the show was to produce 100 videos over the year. We clearly went way beyond that and produced 160 videos and built out all these social media destinations, all of which ate into both production and creative resources.
But of course that isn’t the whole story. Obviously the social media of the show has led to some big things. The series won the Emmy for Original Interactive Program, it has a book coming out that’s being published by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, and is running a pretty dynamic Twitter Fiction campaign this week.
Now why am I stating all this? I’m lining this all out because in today’s entertainment/video/tv/film world the question is still being asked on wether social media story campaigns make sense economically. So I think the question is, if the social media didn’t impact the financing initially, will it impact it later?
I’m pretty sure I’m one of those at the front lines of these multi-platform shows and I’ve never had someone in the business go,
"We should make that show because the transmedia/social campaign will be amazing".
They always go, "we’ll make that show because it’ll be a great show. We’ll figure out all that ‘transmedia’ stuff later." The transmedia/multi-platform stuff always come 2nd.
So here are the common questions people in the creative business ask about in social media storytelling that I will relate to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
1. When the show was running, do the twitter conversations directly lead to more views on the next/previous video?… I think we’d all like to think yes, but it’s really hard to say and incredibly hard to measure. I believe for the sake of the LBD there are certainly some specific bigger campaigns we did that directly led to more awareness (eg: San Francisco tour) but again hard to quantify.
2. If 100% of the audience watches the videos, what percentage reads/follows all the social stories?… I strongly believe The LBD does this better than most, but I don’t think it’s more than 33%.
3. If only a fraction of the audience is following the social stories, is it worth putting creative/production resources behind them? … My answer is yes. But then that leads to this one…
4. Do the social stories lead to a return on investment? We know how to make our money back on video, but if you can’t say that the social stories are leading to more views, why spend the resources to do them? -Now if you’re a fan of The LBD you know the answer to this. The social stories makes the story world more enriching and immersive.
Anyway, that was a little ranty/long but it’s something I deal with pretty much weekly. But as you can tell when it comes to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I don’t have a super strong business answer to any of them.
I love telling stories but I have learned to be super aware that economics drives creative.
I’ll end with this perspective on what’s going on in Pemberley Digital land this past week.
On the Emma Approved side we’ve released two episodes, two blog posts on Emma’s site, four fashion looks, and two social story runs.
On the Lizzie Bennet Diaries side we’ve revealed a book cover and had 11 social story runs (thus far) in our Twitter Fiction campaign.
I am almost positive that out of all of those things, the pieces of content that have the most audience/awareness BY FAR are the two episodes of Emma Approved and the book cover reveal.
If you assume that Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved are one big audience, that would mean that the blog posts, fashion looks, and 13 social story runs across BOTH shows is only being consumed by 33% of the audience at the most.So is it worth it? - YES.