Gil Scott Heron told us that the revolution will not be televised. He probably had no idea just how right he was going to be. We just helped to launch an app that will be revolutionizing entertainment, taking it away from TV as we know it and making it interactive.
We got involved with this social media project via our friends at Shaftesbury Films, one of Canada’s largest independent film production houses, who hit big in their market.
These guys had been thinking up something totally new. Why not take what would normally be a TV series, add a games layer to it and then produce it as an app for distribution via the Apple App Store rather than traditional TV? Wheels started turning and some months later Totally Amp’d, an entertainment app for the pre-teen market designed to play on iPhones, iPods and iPads, was born.
Here is a video we shot with Producer Daniel Dales, introducing the app.
Totally Amp’d is the story of five teens trying to make it big in the music industry by winning a contest to open for pop sensation Charlie Fever. In the process they have to beat the evil rival record producer and his group Delicious Dynamite, find their own musical style and, most importantly, overcome their personal differences and come together as a group.
You can preview the first episode over on the YouTube channel we set up. It’s a cute story with really, really catchy tunes. (We’ve embedded one below. Play at your own risk.)
But that’s not where it ends. Because this is an app, the experience is active, not passive; social, not isolated. The games layer allows viewers to remix the music, re-cut music videos and design everything from posters to outfits for Totally Amp’d. It’s perfect content for tablets and smartphones such as the iPad and iPhone.
Developing a social media strategy
We got called in during the development of the app to help plan a social media and PR strategy, to make sure that when the app launched there would be an audience ready and waiting for it.
Our social media strategy was built around the insight that teenagers love few things more than access to the stars and celebrities they follow. The cast of the show included well known actresses Cristine Prosperi (Degrassi) and Ashley Leggat (Life with Derek, on the left), who both have strong social followings of their own on Facebook and twitter.
Importantly, almost all cast routinely interacted with their own fans via social channels. We could then use these existing connections to build our own social network.
Implementing the strategy
Several months before launch we started documenting the app creation process, releasing the resulting content via curated social channels. We built a YouTube channel, from which content was shared out to Facebook, tumblr and twitter. Our own video production people started work too, interviewing the cast, releasing video teasers.
People started taking an interest and the teen community was beginning to share the buzz via their own social media presence.
We also started running contests, asking for user generated content submissions. We gave away items from the show, signed t-shirts or even tickets to the Totally Amp’d Launch Party. Here’s a typical contest entry, hoping to win tickets for the Launch Party.
We documented the entire process, from start to finish, involving fans wherever we could. For example, if you weren’t lucky enough to win tickets to the party, you could watch the live stream on Facebook, or catch up with highlights later.
But what about the parents?
Insight number two told us that parents of teens and pre-teens are financial gatekeepers, especially when it comes to credit card purchases. To buy an app from the Apple App Store you need a credit card.
We decided to involve real life parents in the creation of the social media strategy. We invited well known and influential parent blogggers, like Wired’s Geek Dad Ken Denmead and Microsoft Canada’s very own Emma Waverman, to join a parental advisory board, flying everybody to Toronto for a weekend of learning and sharing.
In the weeks preceding launch we got really busy. Live streams with cast, again giving access to fans, contests, music previews and video trailers went up almost daily. The buzz started growing.
When the app was launched, it was received by a fan community that was ready and waiting, storming up the charts in the Apple App Store and collecting rave reviews. As a result, Apple declared it a featured app in both Canada and the US, essential for continued success.
Enthusiastic reviews by bloggers and news media alike reassured parents that the app was fun and appropriate for kids, that the content was educational and the music G-rated.