Pretend you are JK Rowling. You are one of the richest women in the world. You began a story that defined a generation, which created a franchise that has changed media over the past decade. Your legions of fans across the globe grew up with your characters and invited their parents along for the ride. Your fans also grew up with the computer age – they now populate every social media known to man, they have facilitated the concept of social media and it is all they know.
Now, your monumental debut project is about to end in a month. WWJD? (What would Jo do?)
You send geographical coordinates to your top nine favorite fan sites, that’s what.
Not what you would do? Well that is why JK Rowling is one of the richest women in the world.
Rowling also left the last coordinate on a new Twitter account, @Pottermore. Once these coordinates were discovered and the fan site masters let in on the scheme (they have kept loyal and mum to their leader on the endeavor) the nerds that make up the “Potterhead” fan base then plugged them into Google Maps. They found a letter at each destination.
The anagram that unfolded spelled “POTTERMORE.” Within minutes word began circulating among fans about the event. Speculations abounded – last time Rowling set up a mystery like this (last time on her website) it was about the release of the seventh book. In a nutshell, Potter fans know that when Rowling makes a secretive site, you stalk it until the information comes out.
Virally the Pottermore news spread like wildfire among Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and fan sites galore. At Pottermore.com there is a mysterious “Coming Soon” sign and a click-through link to a YouTube video of a countdown to the big announcement, six days and counting no less. Rumors have been flying across the social media sites about the nature of the new project. Some say it is a Potterhead social networking site or some sort of mobile app. Others have hoped it is a new book, although Rowling’s reps claim it is not.
If it is in fact a social networking media, then all the more kudos to Rowling and her agents. Within hours Pottermore and the new project were trending on Google and the YouTube video reached over 217,000 views. If this isn’t the best viral marketing scheme in the past year I don’t know what is. Rowling and her team are obviously extremely aware of their market and their audience and have done everything in their power to reach them. Such hype could only lead Rowling’s fan base to ensure her monstrous success in this latest endeavor. The marketing business should look to this example.