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April 21, 2008

Gossip Girl Drops The Social Media Ball

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Twitter followers will know that both Susan and I are passionate Gossip Girl fans. Despite being closer to 30 than 20 (sorry Susan, but it’s true), we just can’t seem to get enough of that silly little show. And tonight, after what seemed like years and years of writer strikes, we finally get a brand new episode! There’s much excitement!

Or at least there was until I realized there’s no way for me to actually watch tonight’s episode. I’m driving down to SMX Social Media later and online was the only viewing option I had. Sadly, the CW has decided to plug up Gossip Girl’s online viewing stream. Lame.

Why do the brands I love always disappoint me? Don’t I get enough of that in my real-life relationships?

The decision to kill Gossip Girl’s online stream came when the creators realized how popular the online version had become.

“The CW is trying to avoid being a victim of its own success: “Gossip” has proved to be a big draw online (http://www.CWTV.com), with each episode said to be generating hundreds of thousands of streams. Episodes routinely rank among the most downloaded on iTunes, which also will continue to offer new episodes.”

Wow. So hundreds of thousands of people are swarming to your Web site to watch one of your hottest shows and you’ve decided this is a bad thing and will now actively prevent them from doing so? Does your show ranking among the most downloaded on iTunes really keep you up at night? If so, your stupidity hurts me.

BuzzSugar is conducting a poll to get reader response to CW’s decision. As I write this, almost half of respondents (48 percent) say if they can’t watch Gossip Girl online they won’t watch at all. Only 19 percent think the CW’s decision was a smart one. Audience alienation is delicious.

It’s amazing to me that big brands, especially those television related, still don’t get it. We really need to get away from the days of measuring things like pageviews and rating points. These are grandfather stats that have way less relevancy today. You should be looking at engagement, time spent on site (though even that’s not perfect), and brand awareness. It’s disappointing to see the CW take such a myopic view here. I mean, let’s not give viewers a compelling reason to tune into the television airing or reward online fans, let’s instead try to stuff the genie back in the bottle and devolve a few years. Maybe if we distract people, they won’t realize we just took a whole bunch of stuff away from them. Good plan. People like that.

I wonder when brands will realize that they are far better off embracing the Internet and their online brand evangelists than trying to corral them onto the roads they want them to take. You can’t police the Internet. You have to embrace it.

And the CW, like most major brands, is not. There are more than 500 Facebook members who list Gossip Girl as an interest. There are more than 500 Facebook groups. There are six Gossip Girl applications, 27 Event pages about tonight’s new episode, and 25 Fan pages. Not one of these groups, Fan pages or applications is an “official” offering green lighted by the folks at CW. They’re letting members use their logo and brand however they’d like and not at all entering the discussion to make it easy to monitor. Missed opportunity. I haven’t checked the other social networking sites, but I’d imagine I’d find the same thing; lots of fragmented brand evangelists just looking for a place to connect. Why don’t you get a clue and give them one?

Encourage your audience to interact with your brand the way it suits them. Not everyone is going to take the same road. Trying to force them through the same door is going to alienate them and leave them with bruised elbows.

And if someone could tape tonight’s episode and send it to me, that’d be stellar. Thanks.





One response to “Gossip Girl Drops The Social Media Ball”

  1. Megan writes:

    Lisa,

    I’m glad you are giving the CW a piece of your mind! They did the same thing to America’s Next Top Model! Very disappointing as I never watch it now. Sometimes you can catch CW shows on Youtube. Good luck.

    Megan



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