One of the ongoing questions in the world of social media branding is: How do we create a unique and engaging presence across multiple social media platforms? The popular web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (LBD), which ended its nearly year-long run at the end of last month, is a great example to content creators of how to do just that.
Created by Internet personality Hank Green (one half of the Vlogbrothers duo on YouTube), LBD is a modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, told through the weekly video blogs of communications grad student Lizzie Bennet. The series has her interning at various media production companies and exploring the world of Internet content creation as she tries to puzzle out what to do with her life, both professionally and romantically.
What sets LBD apart from other web series is its completely immersive storytelling format. In addition to the YouTube channel on which “Lizzie” posts her videos, virtually every character who appears on the show has their own social media presence, including Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, Tumblr blogs and in some instances their own separate YouTube channels. And all of these media are integrated into the overall storytelling process, as they relate to the book.
For instance, Lizzie and her best friend Charlotte might have an extended discussion on Twitter, which expands on events discussed in the video posted the next day. Lizzie’s wayward sister Lydia creates her own video blog, which unfolds simultaneously to Lizzie’s adventures and includes additional plot points from Pride and Prejudice, but from a different point of view. They even created a website for “Pemberley Digital,” the communications company of which Mr. Darcy is the CEO.
Each of these exchanges and tidbits is archived on the show’s main website, so that viewers can get the full experience, even now that the series has ended. A viewer could watch nothing but the bi-weekly videos on the main channel and still follow along with the story. But the more characters they follow, the more detailed and engaging a picture the get.
In addition, the characters would often engage the audience directly, replying to their tweets as well as answering their questions in videos.
What makes this method of social media branding so effective is that it allows the audience to choose their own story experience. Most viewers aren’t going to subscribe to the Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube accounts of every single character on the show. But instead, they can select the characters and channels that interest them most. A fan of Lizzie’s older sister could follow “Looks By Jane” on Tumblr, with pictures documenting her aspirations to be a fashion designer. Those disappointed that Darcy’s wacky friend Fitz only appeared in a couple of episodes could follow his antics on Twitter, or view his appearances on other characters’ YouTube channels. Or if they preferred, viewers could just follow the cast and crew, for a behind-the-scenes look at the show and its creation.
Giving the audience such a broad spectrum of content to choose from ultimately paid off for Hank Green and the LBD crew. It helped the audience to stay engaged in the show throughout its entire run. And it ultimately served to draw them back to the main channel week after week, to see how the new supplemental content fit in with the continuing adventures of Lizzie Bennet and company.