Keeping Hogwarts Alive: What Pottermore Can Teach Us About Content Marketing
I’m flying my nerd flag pretty high in this blog post, so let me begin by saying that I own a faux sorting hat, a Harry Potter bookend, a snitch necklace and various other Harry Potter paraphernalia.
When I first heard about Pottermore in 2011, believe I was ecstatic. I spent some of the last months of my college career diffusing stress and angst about my future by perusing the site and dueling other users (if it sounds nerdy it’s because it is).
Pottermore is a website that revolves around the Harry Potter series and re-tells the story in an interactive way. Pottermore boasts original content written by JK Rowling, character notes previously unshared and plenty of interaction with other users.
The Harry Potter books wrapped up in 2007. The movies reached their end in 2011. And yet Pottermore keeps Harry’s story alive. How?
The website doesn’t just allow its users to go through the stories interactively. It’s also set up to encourage users to communicate with each other. You can favorite certain chapters, characters and parts of the Harry Potter world (some of my favorites: Hermione Granger, Stairways of Hogwarts and Dragons). You can communicate with other users below chapters (a sort of chatroom). You can duel other users, earn points for your house (you’re sorted into a house as you make your way through the first book) and chat with others in your common room.
Businesses can take a hint from this: user engagement is incredibly important. Leave your comments open on your blog posts. Encourage conversation on your Facebook (but also don’t beg for comments and shares), talk to other users and reach out to them. Building a community takes time and effort and, most importantly, it takes strategy.
Good (Free) Content
One genius bit about Pottermore is the combination of good (free) content and user interaction. JK Rowling took her old Harry Potter notes (for example, Minerva McGonagall’s backstory, which was not in the books) and offered them up on Pottermore via the interactive game.
The aspect of Pottermore that drew me in in the first place was the content and the fact that it was a digital platform designed by JKR herself. I got to see Harry Potter through her eyes. I could play games, mix potions and learn more about my favorite characters. But the clincher here is that I cannot find the content on Pottermore anywhere else. It’s unique, it’s creative and it’s fun—key points for marketers. You need to give your audience incentive to come to you and not to anyone else.
Moral of the story: Offer free, engaging, unique content. That could mean free whitepapers (just sign up to download!), good quality blog posts, a free app for your audience or coupons and giveaways via social media. There are all sorts of ways to get creative.
It had been a while since I visited Pottermore (read: over five months) when I saw a tweet about something very exciting: a new short story/article written by JKR as Rita Skeeter, a journalist in the Harry Potter series, about a grown-up Harry (Pottermore registration is required to read the article). I went straight to Pottermore that morning.
JK Rowling has it right. New, interesting and intriguing content is a fantastic way to keep fans interested and coming back. It had been a while since I’d visited the site, but when I heard about the new short story I came rushing back, and I’m sure many other fans did, as well.
Your audience won’t visit your website if it’s always the same old stuff. Your audience won’t care about your social media if you’re posting the same thing time and time again. This is why a well-run, regularly updated blog is so important. New content is imperative if you want to succeed in your content marketing strategy.
And hey—why not throw a little Potter in there now and then?
Vanessa Levin-Pompetzki – Digital Media Coordinator