Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Social Media Lesson from Outlander


If you haven’t picked up on all the hoopla around Diana Gabaldon’s filming of her first novel, Outlander, on Starz, you might be living on another planet! The ongoing promotion of the first season has been relentless, and is particularly noticeable on social media venues like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

First let me say that I’m thrilled with Gabaldon’s success as a novelist. After twenty years of effort, seeing the book onscreen must be completely soul-satisfying. I can’t imagine any more ideal movie interpretation of a fiction series either. The setting, costuming, and acting are so true to the story in essential spirit, how could any part of this equation be better?

Part of that success is directly related to the astounding promotion package and team effort on the parts of the cast and crew. We don’t see this kind of marketing savvy often and, yet, it would be so easy for any similar movie project to emulate. Let’s analyze this. I’ll begin with Twitter presence.


Here are more of the team members actively promoting there:

Actor Tobias Menzies (who plays astounding dual roles)

Each week, one of the key players has a Twitter Q & A. Everyone heavily tweets about this to build up excitement, which is followed by one hour of sheer madness as Twitter fans engage using the hashtag #askOutlander.


The next Saturday’s episode is daily promoted with a short teaser video. Click here to see the one for episode #8.

Memes likes this one pop up everywhere.

Claire referring to the wedding night!
Organically created “street teams” like Heughan’s Heughligans and Fans of Caitriona Balfe share and promote everything even remotely related to the show.


The cast and crew are amazing at sharing behind-the-scenes details with the fans, as is the author. Admittedly, this production is stunning, but part of the excitement generated stems from the way the insiders are promoting their work – with enthusiasm and pride and an astounding level of social media savvy. That, in turn, develops a free promotion muscle from a huge number of grateful and motivated fans, including me. 

I can only hope someday I’ll generate this kind of excitement with my stories! In the meanwhile, I’m doing my part promoting others, and you should too. It’s fun and an easy way to learn and pay it forward, whether you're a novelist, screenplay writer, actor, or director. 

Who here is following the series and what do you think? I confess I’m enjoying the novels much more now, partly because of the real actors, and the film interpretation. 

Please leave me a comment with your opinions or questions. Oh, and look at this nice thank you. They now have almost half a million fans in just a few short months! 





Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil, a writer, editor, and artist. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest where she promotes, promotes, promotes.

12 comments :

  1. Great post, Dani. To bring a bit of reality to the promotion angle, It's much easier when a writer has an already established fan base. This starts with the book, and as we all know, finding that audience is very hard. Ask anyone on this list. We promote, tweet, Facebook, but that's also risky, because people don't like to be deluged with promo, and there's a fine line between promoting and over-promoting. I've never sent out a Facebook blast for people to Like my author page. Something about that makes me uncomfortable, and I laud those who do it. I wish I could. Outlander also has the strength of a TV network that needs to promote so that people will watch the show. We should all be so lucky sometime in our future.

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    1. That's very true, Polly. But that fan base doesn't happen overnight. Gabaldon has engaged her readers on Compuserve since... well, forever. And we can all do that starting right now. "Engaged" is the operative word here - you have to talk to your readers, not just blare advertising at them. Hank Phillippi Ryan is another author very good and creating conversations on social media. It takes time, each day and over the long haul, but it's the solid relationships that create real fans.

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    2. Oh, and a simple way to get more fan engagement on your author page? Put this suggestion on your fan page: To see my posts in your news feed, move your mouse over LIKED and click GET NOTIFICATIONS - that will help a lot.

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  2. I've read the books. Liked some better than others, but there's no denying the Jamie/Claire chemistry. I don't get Starz, so I haven't seen the on-screen translation, but the social media sites have raved. I'd be interested in seeing it should it ever be available to non-Starz people, but I think I'd have wanted to see it without any hype, simply because I enjoyed the books.

    As for all the effort going into the promotion ... I'm still trying to find the energy for a simple on-lin launch party for my new release.

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    1. I'm moodling how to get those "street teams" built. I thought my BBT Cafe group on FB would be just that, but the group is fairly comatose. There must be a way to engage people on a smaller scale, but I haven't quite figured it out yet.

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    2. "Teams." That's the operative word here. This isn't a one-time effort by a single author; it's a team effort for the ongoing benefit of all. Engaging people is no doubt the key, but the "how-to" can be elusive. The synergy of teamwork can help immensely in this regard. So back to your question -- how do we form effective teams?

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  3. I love this series. I read the early books as a teen by renting them from the library. In the 90's I bought the earlier paperback versions, reread them, and caught up from there. Now that I am older (and more well-read) I do cringe at times. But it had the power to enchant me and keep me interested, flaws asde. I have the current release on my TBR pile. I am excited to see the series (don't have Starz and will wait for it to stream or DVD). I just hope they don't focus on sex/violence/violent sex the way they do with most cable original programming. I fell in love with the characters, so I hope it is character driven and not remade for adolescent males or fans of Twilight. Perhaps someone who has seen it can warn me? LOL.

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    1. You might find this rather lengthy comparison of book and film interesting, Diana. http://www.ladyraven.ca/outlander/the-wedding-from-book-to-screen/

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  4. I streamed the first episode for free on my computer - worked fine even out here on the rural flats. I can't wait to buy the first season DVD but so far there's no mention of it. Lots of sex. Lots of violence. But that's in the books too. Even more so, though my imagination tends to gloss over the extreme situations in a book. You can't do that with film. It's in your face, and powerful. I have to say Tobias Menzies has done a brilliant job playing Frank (Claire's first husband) AND the evil Jack Randall. It's character-driven. With a lot of graphic sex. And violence. ;)

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    1. I have to say the sex/love scenes are quite lovely because they are often driven by the heroine, which is a nice change from the usual. Black Jack's sex/hate scenes are brutal though. Brace yourself.

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  5. When my blog book tour ran for Spaghetti, this is the type of engagement my publishing team brought forward. It was phenomenal.

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    1. Yes, even in small teams, the combined effort results in a pretty long arm. I think the Little Pickle Press team combined has tens of thousands of Twitter followers alone. Plus, they are not shy and know how to rinse and repeat. The constancy of the Outlander promotion is an important part of the marketing success.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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