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Special Project
From the 6th Annual Shorty Awards

How Spartacus: War of the Damned Conquered the Facebook Arena

Entered in Facebook Page

About this entry

Cutting through social clutter to cultivate a highly-engaged Facebook community can be an epic battle. Driving fan advocacy for a premium TV show reaching its final season is particularly challenging. This past year, the STARZ digital marketing team faced this very dilemma: how to inspire its Facebook community to demonstrate as much passion and engagement for the show’s final season as Spartacus and his fellow gladiators showed in their arena upon the sands. The grand scale of Spartacus: War of the Damned necessitated a bold effort in social, especially to sustain the interest of fans who knew that the show was entering its final season. Could the Spartacus Facebook page mobilize its followers to show the same passion in social that Spartacus and his men displayed on the battlefield? Campaign Objectives • Drive show awareness and viewership • Cultivate and sustain engagement with a rabid fan base • Establish a regular content cadence to improve page’s EdgeRank score • Use paid media to acquire new fans and amplify top-performing content in real-time To accomplish these objectives, the page had to make fans feel as if Spartacus was speaking directly to them and they were part of the rebellion themselves. It was no easy task. The language of the show was essentially a whole language unto itself, as series creator Steven S. DeKnight described it as a cross between Shakespeare and Robert E. Howard. For example, instead of the following phrases commonly used on social, Spartacus would say: • “Raise voice on the matter" instead of “What do you think?" • “Spread word" instead of “Share this" • “Set eyes to purpose and mind to task" instead of “Watch tonight" The Facebook page utilized the Spartacus voice in order to enhance its authenticity and credibility with its community. All copy and assets were written and designed with the language in mind, allowing for larger creative initiatives that not only sustained engagement but substantially increased it organically. With Spartacus: War of the Damned, STARZ Entertainment approached a social strategy in a way never approached by the company before. The page was completely content driven, using the Spartacus voice to make the fans a part of the story and of the world of Spartacus and his rebels. Staying true to the voice of the show became our campaign rallying cry. Copy such as: “Thank Jupiter it’s Friday. Share to spread word a new episode of Spartacus: War of the Damned begins tonight." inspired community members to speak as rebels themselves. It also led to them sharing Spartacus content more often with their friends as they attempted to introduce the language to them. Examples • • With this campaign, we focused on the importance of engagement going beyond premiere. Instead of a large condensed burst of activity close to premiere to try and drive tune-in numbers, the Spartacus page deployed an engagement strategy that focused on activating its community months in advance of premiere and stretching throughout the season. This kept the page’s EdgeRank score high so that Spartacus content found its way into more people’s Newsfeeds. Even during a bridge week where there was no new episode, engagement increased compared to the prior week through a character Facebook “takeover" where the copy and voice made it seem as if the beloved warrior Gannicus was posting to the page himself. Examples: • • The focus was on the community, not tune-in. Special attention was given to how much the page was posting about tune-in, because too much tune-in messaging led to noticeable drops in engagement. Instead, a premium was placed on shareable content that didn't focus on tune-in but could still drive it because of its viral appeal. One example was “Spartacussing," where fans were presented with an asset with a famous curse line from the show and asked to respond with what their favorite was. The end result of this approach was a larger organic reach than paid reach during the season. Additionally, once the season was complete, the engagement didn't stop there. During post finale we continued to engage with our community by sharing content that would encourage nostalgia and provide fans with the opportunity to mourn and say farewell to their favorite characters. This involved a series of posts in the weeks after finale focusing on the shows characters with very simple messaging such as, “For Spartacus", which was a popular quote from one of the final episodes. Examples: • • We also believed in the value of participating in real time conversations. Diligently monitoring the conversations in the Spartacus community provided opportunities to capitalize on real-time trends and conversations. One example was after a mid season episode where fans were buzzing about an epic, blood-soaked handshake between Spartacus and Crixus that reunited them as friends and allies. The team quickly put together an asset depicting the scene and when shared, it received tremendous engagement within minutes. A paid media buy for the post was also activated in real-time to extend the organic reach even further. Examples: •   Our campaign goals and how we achieved them: 1. Increase page engagement rates compared to previous season o Average engagement per 10K fans had significant jumps during premiere (59%) and finale (218%) weeks compared to the previous season o Sizeable lifts in organic (96%) and viral (65%) impressions were seen to the previous season o Combined organic and viral reach was 140% greater than paid reach o Recorded the top 10 performing posts in page history, including individual post records for post likes (150K), comments (11K) and shares (17K) 2. Surpass the 3M fan mark o 3M fans reached in January before the season premiere; finished with 3.4M o The page continues to grow, despite being off the air for almost a year. Currently the page is at 3.6M 3. Measure results against other premium television shows for comparison. o During the week prior to finale, Spartacus had higher engagement than two other popular shows, with much larger fan bases, had in their respective finales


Entrant Company / Organization Name

STARZ Entertainment


Entry Credits