How Marvel Comics Rules Social Media

Marvel Comics is a massive brand. Its success relies on a stable of characters created over decades, and thanks to its film franchises it shows no signs of slowing down.

So what can everyday companies learn from Marvel’s hyperactive social media presence? Quite a bit!

The big lesson: constant engagement. We don’t want to stereotype here, but comic book fans are some of the most outspoken and devoted “brand advocates” around, and they demand both respect and responses to their queries. For some examples, check out the Twitter feed of Ryan Penagos, executive editorial director of Marvel’s digital division. It includes a lot of substantive information about upcoming properties as well as tiny little tidbits like this one:

Oh, and he has a Tumblr too.

Penagos very carefully determines how to manage Marvel’s multiple Twitter accounts by interacting with the writers and directors involved in different properties in order to determine which ones justify new feeds and which should be used for cross-promotional purposes (pretty much all of them). This deep fan interaction also helps Marvel to determine new directions for its properties.

Two of Penagos’s useful suggestions:

  • Hire people who believe in your brand
  • Actively seek out your potential “brand ambassadors” on social media and figure out “ways to do something mutually beneficial” (how you read that phrase is up to you).

The Marvel model fits quite well with the results of a recent JWT/OgilvyAction/EXPO study covered by our sister site SocialTimes as well as Edelman PR‘s 2013 Trust Barometer: successful branding is all about engagement and customer service–and one only has to scroll through Penagos’s accounts to understand how well Marvel does both.

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