Who killed Lucy Beale? We’ve all been asking it. And last week we finally found out the answer.
Here’s a lil’ bit of background in case you’ve had your head in a bucket for the past week. This year, to celebrate EastEnders’ 30th Anniversary, the BBC announced that there would be a week of ‘Live’ and ‘Semi-Live’ episodes which would reveal the killer of the long-running Lucy Beale murder storyline.
Like many people, I was intrigued by the idea of a ‘Live week’ where there was so much potential for a screw up. Let’s face it – we all want to see it go wrong more than we want to see a perfect show (aren’t we horrible).
But it wasn’t just the idea of it being ‘Live’ that had me interested. It was the hype that was slowly building around social media. Everyone had their own suspicions about who was the culprit of the crime, and they weren’t afraid to share them. What’s more, I am not talking about long-running fans of the show who tune in every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday – I’m talking about people who haven’t watched EastEnders in years, or even ever. Conspiracy theories exploded across Twitter, and the hashtag #EELive spent a solid week in the Top Trending list.
And yes there were mistakes, like Tanya’s name confusion with Ian Beale. But it’s these things that only went on to fuel the social fire. How was Adam anyway? We never did find out.
Memes popped up within minutes and Twitter was awash with opinions and running commentary. Even Tamwar from the show was ‘Live’ Tweeting to the audience, breaking the ‘fourth wall’ – and it was great to follow.
Whatever you thought of the final ‘Live’ episode, you can’t say it wasn’t dramatic. Even people like me, who hadn’t watched the show in years sat glued to the screen, eyes filling, with a lump in their throat. Over 10 million people tuned in to find out who killed Lucy, with the final ‘Live’ episode reaching a peak of 6488 Tweets per minute (Source: Kantar Social TV UK). What was a mediocre soap a week ago, became an entertainment event – a tribute to the skills of the cast and a reason to switch over to BBC One.
If that doesn’t count as a great piece of marketing, I don’t know what does. And here’s why I think it worked.
Storytelling is key for connecting with any audience, whether they are committed fans or previously uninterested parties. Your story needs to extend beyond its main medium. It needs to connect with people where they are – it’s no good waiting for them to come to you.
For a programme like EastEnders, or any other soap for that matter, it’s easy for it to become a bit like Marmite – people either love it or hate it. Social media can bring these two sets of people together. If you can get people talking. You can create intrigue. And sooner or later it will be impossible for them to resist digging a little deeper.
What’s more, if you can get the story started, the public can do the rest. We don’t want them to be satisfied with the story we tell; we want them to create their own tale from our foundations. The week may have started with the public debating acting skills, but it ended with hundreds, if not thousands of tweets saying how much they enjoyed it.
A good story can get the skeptics converted, and an even better one will keep them coming back for more. Here at We Love Digital, storytelling is what we do – sparking the conversation that triggers true brand affiliation.
It will be interesting to see how EastEnders continues from here. If they can support this enthusiasm from the audience and keep the momentum going, they are definitely on to a winner!
N.B. A little something to remember when you’re tweeting someone who happens to have the same name as a fictional murderer – they might not be up to speed on what’s going on!