SXSWi Keynote Recap: Liz Miller Interviews Felicia Day

By Kiran Aditham 

Felicia Day, an actress who developed her own web series to combat a World of Warcraft addiction, took the stage on Monday, March 14 to talk about how she harnessed social media to build a fanbase, and ultimately, as media business. Her show, The Guild, now in its 5th season, has received over 100 million views since its inception in 2007. How did she do it? Crowdsourcing, for one – the first two episodes were independently funded, and the remaining ten were funded through audience donations on PayPal – and, staying true to the niche audience of gamers.

When asked about how she conceived the idea, Day replied,”Well, they say write about what you know.” She went on to say,  “Every website is like a channel and the internet works best for niche content, as opposed to network television which has to have broader appeal.”

How did she launch an independent show after being turned down by Hollywood? She firmly believes that being ahead of the technology curve has helped her achieve her success. Production for her web series was developed through experimenting and learning about hosting platforms, website development, video production, and editing. And, audience building was done through social media.

Twitter is her social platform of choice. Knowing that the first 10 minutes on Twitter is the critical window to post news clearly helps – she baited her fans with news about a show she was working on back in the fall with the hashtag #mysterynews. When the announcement was finally made about Dragon Age, she asked her followers to “please retweet” and ended up with 200 million impressions. Not bad.

Echoing Barry Diller’s sentiment from earlier in the day, she said “It’s never been a better time for independent creators.”

Kirsten Cluthe is a consultant with The Frontier Project and a mediabistro contributor.