First off, if you don’t watch Castle, shame on you! But I’m not here to discuss the virtues of this show or how ruggedly handsome Nathan Fillion is.

I want to talk about what an absolutely wonderful I think ABC has done marketing this show. Three years ago, someone in their marketing department had the brilliant idea to start using social media to gain followers of the show (and boost ratings). Instead of the marketing department marketing the show and saying “Watch Our Show!”, they turned Richard Castle into a “real person” rather than just a TV character.

Richard Castle from ABC's Castle

Richard Castle from ABC’s Castle

Richard Castle has a Facebook page, Tweets, and a website – complete with RSS. There are actual books published under the name Richard Castle (shown on his website and sold on Amazon). ABC took the idea of using social media and went one step further. When people choose to hit that Follow or Like button, they have the feeling that they are following a real person, not a character. I mean, how many times have you watched a show or read a book and thought “Man, it’d been cool if I could ever meet that character.” This gives you an opportunity to have that feeling, a chance to talk to Castle, the character – not the actor who plays him (though Nathan Fillion also uses Twitter).

Ford's spokespuppet, Doug via Mashable.com

Ford’s spokespuppet, Doug via Mashable.com

This came to mind because I ran across an article on Mashable about Ford’s new marketing campaign. Ford is using a sock puppet as their spokesperson. I love the reasoning given behind this decision: “The company intentionally made Doug a sock puppet so he could say and do things that might not be acceptable from a human spokesperson. Doug is Ford’s license to walk on the wild side.” Not only are they using a sock puppet, but in addition to their commercials, Doug also has Twitter and Facebook pages, allowing people to interact with Doug, ask questions, get responses. How cool is that? People have even posted pictures with comments about how they decided to purchase a car based off of this use of social media marketing.

My third example of this really cool technique of using social media to create a following comes from an episode of Supernatural. In this episode, the main characters, Dean and Sam, unexpectedly traveled to a parallel universe. In this dimension, everyone believes them to be the actors that portray them, including the other actors of the show. Misha Collins, who portrays Castiel, was actually portraying himself in this episode and a few times during the show he pulled out his phone and posted a few tweets. People likely flocked to his Twitter feed to see if he really was tweeting while on the show – and he was! (see the image below) After the show, Misha tweeted “My phone was stolen and apparently cast into a parallel universe devoid of magic. I’ve retrieved it. I promise it won’t happen again.” Nice tie-in!

Misha Collins Twitter feed, portrays Castiel in Supernatural

Misha Collins Twitter feed, portrays Castiel in Supernatural

I love it! This is how social media should be used in marketing to gathering a following, not “Did you see a white kangaroo in this episode of _____________? Then go to our website to find out why!” when it has nothing to do with the show or product or anything more than to drive people to the site for a tidbit of useless and uninteresting information.

Have you seen any inventive and cool ways something was marketed? It doesn’t need to be something that’s only using the latest in sharing technology. Maybe it was a good ad or something was placed just right in the store. Or maybe the packaging caught your eye (remember the make your own sayings on the Heinz Ketchup bottles a few years ago?). Anything you’ve seen that you think is cool – I want to hear about it.

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