Putting Almost Naked Animals on Social Media
Is social media a viable option for a production company to launch a new animated children’s series? That’s the question a group of Centennial College students explored as part of a joint research project between Centennial’s School of Business, School of Communications, Media, Arts & Design and Toronto-based production company, 9 Story Entertainment.
In early 2011, 9 Story launched a new animated series titled Almost Naked Animals. The show, targeted primarily to children 6 – 11, followed the exploits of a group of lovable, quirky underwear-clad animals running a small tropical resort. The show launched initially on YTV in Canada, followed by successful roll-outs later in the year in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia.
Business students looked at age appropriate websites and portals available to promote the program, as well as other opportunities to engage with viewers and parents online. A key focus was whether a children’s program could develop a Facebook and Twitter following. Recognizing Facebook’s age restriction, the goal in targeting Facebook was to engage parents as well as teens and young adults who were identified as a secondary audience for the program.
A team of students from the post-graduate Corporate Communications & Public Relations program worked closely with 9 Story to develop a series of social media products for Almost Naked Animals, including a Facebook page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel. Sharing content and building followers was a key goal, particularly in advance of the program’s debut in the United States.
The project explored creating character pages for key “hero” characters on the show, and having them post in their own voice. A Twitter feed was set up for one of the show’s most colourful characters, lounge singer Narwhal, who tweeted in his signature, egotistic style. A highlight was Narwhal “live tweeting” during the first airing of an episode that focused on his character.
Among the findings – building a following is a slow organic process, particularly for a children’s show. Social media can’t be used at the same level to create widespread awareness, and there are limited opportunities to share content. There was still, however, benefits to building Facebook pages and a YouTube channel for fans to watch clips and share them, particularly prior to major market launches in the U.S. and U.K.
Another benefit – Twitter proved an excellent vehicle to track public reaction to the show, particularly from parents. The show’s title, Almost Naked Animals, certainly raised eyebrows. There was little to no discussion on Twitter when the show launched in Canada, but quite a bit in the British and American markets when it began to air, primarily on how inappropriate the title was for a children’s program.
With a bigger and bigger focus on children and social media, this was an interesting look at its value for new children’s programming.
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