How Twitter made Mad Men more “spreadable”

In the introduction of Spreadable Media, authors Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green discuss why media spreads and compare and contrast the concepts of media “spreadability” and “stickiness”. In case you didn’t know, the term spreadability refers to the way in which media is circulated today through much more participatory ways.  Stickiness refers to the methods that companies use to try to get users to remain at their site or to view a particular piece of media.

Many organizations prefer the stickiness method because it allows them to measure more easily how many people are visiting their site, which is how prices that advertisers pay are determined.  Spreadability can be a hindrance to companies’ websites in that it dilutes the number of people visiting that particular website because people can get their media fix from a third party.

Spreadable Media uses fandom as a reason that media has become so “spreadable”.  In particular, it talks about the hit TV show, Mad Men.  This show and twitter debuted the same year (2007).  During the show’s second season, some of the main characters popped up on Twitter and started posting and interacting in a very accurate-to-the-show manner.  Most who followed the characters on Twitter believed it was a great marketing campaign created by AMC to get viewers of the show more involved and to gain new fans.  This was not true, in fact; the characters on Twitter were just fans of Mad Men who wanted to extend the show but still stayed within the story lines. When AMC realized how popular these tweets were becoming, they contacted Twitter to get the users’ real names but Twitter thought AMC wanted to stop the users so their accounts were suspended.  The following tweet isn’t by the original Dan Draper Twitter user but it is a good example of how they would tweet and try to stay true to the character:

A quote from Spreadable Media reads: “Cease-and-desist orders have become an all-too-familiar means of correspondence between brands and their audiences in an era when prohibitionist corporate attitudes have collided with the collaborative nature of online social networks”.  I can see why some corporations still cling to the stickiness method of media; it is better for them statistically and financially.  But they really need to embrace the idea of spreadability, because that is how the internet works now and why social media has become so important in today’s culture.

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9 thoughts on “How Twitter made Mad Men more “spreadable”

  1. Joseph Seal

    Very interesting! I’ve come across multiple “parody” accounts on Twitter of characters from TV shows and even celebrities. Most of the time, the page is just retweeting an already existing meme, but some of the time, the page is quoting the character in their tweets. For example, I know that the Netflix accounts of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Daredevil all talk as their respective characters. I know, it’s weird, but I find it funny because the person actually running the account embodies the character writing the tweet, which is basically gaining spreadability for the show! If someone on Twitter wrote something like, “@JessicaJones is a horrible show”, the account would quote the tweet and reply with a sarcastic/witty response. I think that’s a small thing which made me appreciate the franchise more, what would you think if a character from your favorite show had “their” own Twitter page and interacted with their fans?

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    1. melissaadams101 Post author

      Parody accounts for TV shows are very entertaining and make the subject matter much more spreadable, which is something the show’s producers should really incorporate for marketing purposes.

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  2. Carleen

    The reaction of Twitter to take down the users when AMC was simply inquiring was interesting. Twitter seems to follow the same cease-and-desist agenda quoted from the authors without AMC even having to ask them to take down the fan feed.

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  3. Danielle MacDonald

    I think that character-life made Twitter’s are hilarious because it almost brings your favorite fictional characters to life right in social media. It makes it feel as though you are living among them, which actually brings the characters more attention (whether from a tv show, book, movie, etc.) I think that Twitter should have spoke with AMC beforehand instead of jumping to conclusions. Spreadability is a real thing, and these fan accounts can almost help with the “stickiness” of the real thing by drawing people in!

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  4. Julia McIntyre

    I like this post because I like how you mentioned that AMC didn’t want Twitter to take it down and only wanted to be informed of who it was. I also liked that you included an example tweet because it made it clearer for me to understand what kind of tweets were being posted.

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    1. melissaadams101 Post author

      AMC may have just wanted to find out who controlled the Twitter accounts in order to collaborate with them but Twitter most likely took such action so they wouldn’t have any trouble with AMC.

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