Facebook Top 10

Facebook Year In Review 2014

I’m happy to share Universal Studios Hollywood made Facebook’s Year In ReviewMost Checked-Into Places in the US” list for the 3rd straight year. This year the park was #2, up 5 spot’s from #7 in 2013 and #8 in 2012.

Congratulations to the social media marketing team I’m proud to have hired and led, and everyone at Universal Studios Hollywood who helps make the park so much fun (i.e., a place where guests want to tell their friends they are visiting).

Facebook’s Year In review includes other Top 10 category lists, including the Most Talked About Global Topics.

Here’s their overview video if you haven’t seen it yet.

New Halloween Horror Nights Videos

 

Just a quick follow-up to my post about Halloween Horror Nights last week. The event keeps many Universal Studios employees, including my team and me (with digital advertising, social media, website content and e-commerce ticket sales) busy this time of the year. Luckily it’s a lot of fun to work on. For these reasons, I’ve got Halloween Horror Nights (a.k.a., HHN) on the brain.

While the event is top of mind for me, I know some readers aren’t familiar with it and may be curious to learn more, so I wanted to share two new videos we just released.

The video above is our first Guest Reactions video of the year. It provides a glimpse of what the event experience — i.e., walking through the themed mazes and scare-zones — is like. It also showcases why we don’t recommend HHN for kids.

We’ve been putting out Guest Reaction videos for years and, in the spirit of “imitation is flattery,” are proud to note that many other Halloween events have copied the style.

We also create Behind the Scenes videos. This is the latest in the series:

 

I’m happy to share that we’ve received a lot of good media coverage, such as this USA Today article.

If you’re in the L.A or Orlando areas and like Halloween / Horror content, please check out this year’s event.

 

(Disclosure and disclaimer:  As noted throughout this blog, I am an employee of NBCUniversal / Universal Studios Hollywood. All company information mentioned in this post is publicly available. All opinions are personal and do not represent the opinions of the company. See media relations website for official press contacts and press releases. To state the obvious, the achievements of Universal Studios Parks & Resorts are the result of the hard work and commitment of many people.)

Halloween. It’s back…. Again!

 

One year ago I wrote a post just before the start of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 2013. It looked at how our use of social media to market the event reflected the major developments in mainstream U.S. social media since the days of MySpace.

Now another year has flown by. Tonight marks the start of the 2014 event, including the opening night Eyegore Awards ceremony.

Halloween Horror Nights is a great event to market. The nature of the content — gruesome entertainment largely created in partnership with horror-film directors and producers, TV shows (such as The Walking Dead), and musicians (like this year’s collaboration with Slash) — combined with the young-adult target audience allows for a lot of creativity.

The content and the audience are both perfectly suited to digital marketing.

As in past years, we’re creating videos to highlight the guest experience as well as our entertainment team’s creative partnerships; for example:

 

Social media fan engagement is a year-round activity but naturally intensifies during the event period. We have active fan bases on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This year we also started posting on Snapchat.

My team and I are responsible for the event website, a work in progress as we always continue to add videos and photos as the event progresses. Please check it out. (Note: it includes some gory images).

For commerce, this year’s ticket store is optimized for mobile check-out.

All this work keeps us busy but it really is a lot of fun.

If you’ve been to Halloween Horror Nights, please share your thoughts about the experience in a comment below.

(Disclosure and disclaimer:  As noted throughout this blog, I am an employee of NBCUniversal / Universal Studios Hollywood. All company information mentioned in this post is publicly available. All opinions are personal and do not represent the opinions of the company. See media relations website for official press contacts and press releases. To state the obvious, the achievements of Universal Studios Parks & Resorts are the result of the hard work and commitment of many people.)

The Muppets Take Social Media

Muppets angry old men (photo by Sifter)

As you may have seen, a fantastic television commercial for the upcoming Muppets Most Wanted movie aired during last weekend’s broadcast of the 2014 Golden Globes Awards ceremony.

The commercial had a built-in connection to the underlying awards show since Tina Fey both plays a character in the movie and was a co-host of the ceremony. (A solid marketing hook but not a surprising tactic.)

The commercial’s relevance to the show was increased by its storyline: feigned outrage about the movie’s lack of award nominations. (A more original hook.)

But what I really love is how the commercial spoofs both social media comment threads and, if I’m not reading too much into it, the way companies incorporate social media elements (Twitter icons, hashtags, real-life comments, etc.) into broadcast ads. And best of all, it achieves this using the Muppets’ brand of irreverent yet disarmingly cute humor.

What do you think?

On the (Check-Ins) list

Top Check-Ins Around The World

Last week Facebook posted its Top 10 U.S. Check-Ins list as part of its 2013 Year in Review. I’m happy to share that Universal Studios Hollywood made the list again. We climbed one spot from last year, from 8th to 7th.

A big Thank You to my teammates and co-workers who helped make this happen over the past two years. (Disclosure: I’m an employee of Universal Studios Hollywood and am responsible for digital marketing).

I find the milestone to be extra sweet because I’ve been working on the company’s Facebook presence literally since its first day.

On an even more personal note, I have to admit that I felt some joy in seeing Universal Studios Hollywood’s name next to Fenway Park, which is 8th on this year’s Top U.S. Check-Ins list.

7. Universal Studios Hollywood (Universal City, CA)
8. Fenway Park (Boston, MA)

Growing up in Massachusetts I shared the New England kid dream that my professional career would someday lead me to Fenway. OK, so side-by-side on a Facebook list isn’t quite the stuff of childhood fantasies…. but I appreciate the irony.

Reader Beware

The Facebook Stories Top Check-Ins list generated a decent amount of media attention last week. It was interesting to see how the information was often reported in a slightly inaccurate way.

Looking at how Facebook released the information, it’s understandable where the confusion began.

The first and most prominent of its two Top Check-In lists was presented as:  “Top Check-Ins Around The World:  Explore the most popular destinations people checked into this year”. (I.e., the image at the top of this blog post)

That headline links to the following eye-catching map highlighting 25 locations around the world:

Facebook Stories 2013 check-ins map

Not surprisingly, many news outlets rans stories implying that these locations were the most checked-into spots in the world. For example, a CNN Travel article was titled, “The 25 most popular destinations for Facebook check-ins in 2013”. And an article in The Telegraph (UK) referred to the locations as “the 25 most popular locations of 2013.”

However, there’s a nuance that makes this billing inaccurate. The Facebook top 25 list highlights the #1 check-in spot within each of 25 countries (i.e., one spot per select country); it is not a list of the 25 top check-in spots overall.

Facebook should have been more careful in how it presented the information. Vague wording leads to vague understanding.

Facebook has received some bad press for cluttered layouts and confusing privacy instructions. The wording of the Year In Review article (and the check-in lists therein) doesn’t help counter perceptions about poorly disseminated information. This is especially poignant in the digital world, where there’s a premium on having a relentless focus on an easy user experience.

At the same time, journalists should have caught the nuance. It should be pretty obvious that the U.S. is not home to just one of the world’s top 25 check-in locations, given its population, the amount of tourism and the Facebook usage rate. It is equally unlikely that Blue Lagoon in Reykjavík, Iceland, could have a check-in count large enough to rank amongst the world’s highest (the entire population of Iceland is 320,000).

Getting back to Universal Studios Hollywood, its relative place on the U.S. list is easy to discern. For “Top U.S. Check-Ins” Facebook provided a straight-forward #1 through #10 ranking.

No fancy graphics but no confusion.

(Please note that all comments made in this post and in this blog overall reflect personal opinions and not the opinions of Comcast, NBCUniversal or Universal Studios Hollywood).

Halloween. It’s back…

It’s mid-September but Halloween is front of mind at Universal Studios Hollywood because this Friday is opening night of Halloween Horror Nights 2013.

Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) is our annual nighttime event featuring entertainment geared toward horror-lovers and Halloween aficionados. We say the event is for ages 13 plus; it’s definitely not for children or the faint of heart.

For many of us at Universal Studios Hollywood the event has become a year-round endeavor. This is especially true for the core group of people leading the entertainment plans as well as for my team working on social media.

Facebook and Twitter have become amazing platforms for keeping fans engaged throughout the year — which means we have momentum heading into the start of the broad advertising campaign in September.

Universal Studios Hollywood held HHN in the late 1990’s but put the event on hiatus from 2001 – 2005. (Universal Orlando had it running throughout those years). My involvement in the event began with its return to Hollywood in ’06.

The timing of the ’06 return — coupled with the fact that digital has consistently been a primary communications vehicle since then — makes the history of HHN social media programs something of a mirror reflection of the history of mainstream U.S. social media.

Following is a summary of Universal Studios Hollywood’s HHN social media evolution.

2006, the re-launch year

MySpace was king.

As you may recall, Facebook was only opened to the general public in late Sept 2006. Up until that point it was restricted to students and select others. Its user base wasn’t yet large enough to be relevant to HHN marketing.

YouTube was more mainstream, having opened to the public in 2005. We dabbled with YouTube in Fall 2006, but MySpace was much more popular at the time and that’s where we paid the most attention.

The event was themed around a fictional character named The Director — a twisted, violent, blacklisted filmmaker who was out for revenge on the Universal Studios backlot. We created a MySpace page for the character, filled with videos, photos and other content that set up his back story and told of his appetite for blood.

The page was very 2006. Luckily, it was 2006. The page was a hit.

2007 – 2008

YouTube became the focal point of HHN social media engagement, while MySpace faded out.

2009

While we continued (and still continue) to create videos for YouTube, 2009 marked the start of official HHN Facebook and Twitter accounts.

From the get-go we gave Twitter and Facebook their own voices and perspectives. Twitter is used to provide more of an “inside baseball” view of the event (which has been executed well largely thanks to the passion and commitment of the event’s creative director) while Facebook provides more general event news and related entertainment (e.g., via the posting of original horror-related images/memes).

On a personal level, the launch of these social programs led to what should probably be the only time my name is ever mentioned on Bloody-Disgusting.com

2010 – 2012

This period was marked by steady growth of the event’s Facebook and Twitter audiences, experimenting with YouTube video advertising, and the addition of social commenting on the Halloween Horror Nights website.

HHN Instagram launched in 2012.

2013

New for this year is the start of HHN’s Instagram videos (the capability was launched in June).

Onwards

Wow, a lot has happened in seven years. Who knows what’s in store over the coming years… for sure there’ll be ever more ways to share the HHN scares.

I must end with a very well deserved thank you to my teammates/co-workers who’ve contributed so much effort and creativity to all the above-mentioned programs.

(Disclosure and disclaimer:  As noted in my bio and is obvious from the post, I’m an employee of Universal Studios Hollywood and am personally involved with the programs discussed above. All comments reflect publicly available information. Opinions reflected on this blog are personal and do not represent the opinions of the company).