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Discovery Channel Uses Social Networking To Freak You Out

IMB_DiscoveryOutbreak4 I have never been a big fan of horror movies. Getting scared on purpose was never something that I quite understood. One of the scariest movies I ever saw, though, was a film back in 1995 called Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman which showed the response that the world would likely have to a global pandemic if one were ever to occur. At the time I was in college at Emory in Atlanta right next door to the CDC and the film’s storyline about the Ebola virus escaping felt very close to home. Tonight at 10pm the Discovery Channel is debuting a new show that will explore this idea of a global pandemic in an interesting new way. The show, called The Colony will take 7 volunteers and drop them into a condemned town without food or water. They are told there has been a biological disaster and are challenged to survive.

The show’s premise itself is interesting, but what adds to the intrigue of the entire program is that they are pursuing a very smart strategy to let anyone take part in this social experiment by signing up for an online simulation of a global pandemic, that uses your own Facebook friends as characters in the “unfolding drama of the survival of humanity.” This technique of using your real friends as the backdrop for a fictional experience created online is something that has been growing in use through efforts such as the popular “Elf Yourself” holiday greeting card campaigns last holiday season.


IMB_DiscoveryOutbreak2 As this virtual experience around The Colony unfolds, it will be interesting to watch how it adds a real dimension to viewers of the show and (hopefully) synchronizes the experience so what is happening in your virtual version of The Colony mirrors what is happening in the show. The virtual experience so far has a combination of fake updates from your friend networks intermixed custom videos that seem to have been created to support the show from people like Cali Lewis. If this part of the social experiment works to engage viewers, we will likely see more networks and programs in the fall using this fictional virtual experience as a way to engage their most passionate fans. Assuming we all survive, of course.

  • Rich Becker

    Hey Rohit,

    You might be interested in knowing that this is The Colony’s second outing. Last time, they didn’t really employ much of a social media effort to push the show. This time they did, which is why most people think it’s new.

    Last time around, it was a little slow for me but my wife and son insisted on watching it faithfully. In some ways, less than fear, this altered-reality show contains a lot of hope. The people they cast clearly know something about survival, and are very creative in using scrap to make everything from power generators to solar panels.


  • Mark Johnson

    Thanks for sharing this information with me. The article was extremely informative and I look forward to reading more soon. Thanks again, Mark

  • Tony Srye | Social Media Marketing Services

    Its amazing how Social Media Marketing is growing and how powerful it is. Example, as Rich mentioned many people did not know about the show until they included the social media aspect of it. Looks like social media marketing is here to stay and is “reinventing the wheel.” I also watched your short video and i have to say you have a way of making people want to keep reading and listening to what you have to say. I book marked your site and will be back.

    p.s. I think every guy alive 25 and older knows that code lol