If you’ve been anywhere near Tumbler or YouTube in the past year you’ve no doubt heard of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. In this version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie is a graduate student sharing her dramatic life with the world via a vlogging project that quickly takes on a life of its own. The writing is superb, to be surpassed only by the truly stellar acting. But what really takes the cake is the mind-boggling genius of the content strategy behind the series.
As new characters join her vlogging efforts—often by barging in uninvited—they also appear on Twitter, and often on Tumblr or Facebook too, depending on the character. Some characters appeared on social media accounts long before they appeared in an episode. The characters/actors use and post to these accounts with many of their online interactions ending up in the episodes and some playing crucial roles.
Some characters have even wound up with their own YouTube channels. To date there are a total of five different YouTube channels officially part of the series. In addition to the primary Lizzie Bennet Diaries channel there are channels for Lydia Bennet, Maria Lu, Collins and Collins, and Pemberley Digital (run by Gigi Darcy).
Add it all up and someone on this team has to manage content not just for the show but also for: four auxiliary YouTube channels, the series website, three auxiliary websites, six Facebook pages, 21 twitter accounts, six tumbler accounts, one each Pinterest, Lookbook, LinkedIn, and finally, one OK Cupid profile (for none other than George Wickham, that dirty spaz). All of these content channels are live, interactive with the audience and interactive with each other! And let’s not forget that there are twitter handles and Facebook pages for nearly everyone on the cast and crew as well.
While this amount of live interactivity is a bit overwhelming it does two phenomenal things for the series. First, it makes the characters believable as modern young adults. Second, it disintegrates the 4th wall, moving the audience from watching the action to participating in it and makes the series seem not just believable, but real. A few weeks ago Darcy’s younger sister posted a series of photos to twitter of Darcy and Lizzie “seeing the city” of San Francisco; photos that never even showed up in the episodes, but add that much more reality regardless.
So far the series has won two Streamy awards, one for the Best Interactive Series, and it’s nominated for three others. New videos often get over 100,000 views in less than 24 hours. The smallest twitter following seems to be around 6K and the largest, for Mr. Darcy, is almost at 30K.
With stats like that there can be no arguing that this robust content network is effective, and therefore the content strategy that designed and governs this network is a work of pure genius. No doubt a great deal of credit for the planning and execution of this strategy goes to the transmedia team, Jay Bushman and Alexandra Edwards. Kudos, guys!
Or as Lydia would say, “Totes awesome!“