Give me a home and a whole lotta fans

Meet Sadie. She might not be a real person, but this ‘girl from the country’ got 15,000 fans since she appeared on social media network Bebo last week.  Sadie is the creation of 18 year old film Melbourne student Nicholas Carlton for a new social web show called Oz Girl TV , now listed on Bebo’s global charts as the world’s number 2 video.

I asked Nicholas about his decision to use social networks to market and promote the show, which will be launched in February on the web.   “Bebo seems to be positioning themselves as an online media aggregator with the support of a fully fledged social network system and this appealed to us greatly. The ability to build on an existing community was a key strategic decision as opposed to creating a community from scratch, which I see as a big mistake. I think you need to bring the content to where people and communities already exist and are active as opposed to attempting to introduce a new venue.” Nicholas used Bebo to give the characters a ‘home’ and explained that he sees it “as a platform to develop and extend the story. Bebo was chosen primarily because its primary demographic of 14 – 24 year old Females” (the target audience for OzGirl).

“We have maintained a YouTube channel and Facebook group which has seen moderate growth, and plan to introduce a Myspace page and Twitter channel, however our primary focus has been on developing a community on Bebo.

“All the characters in the show, Sadie, Megan and George, have Bebo profiles….”we have seen a high level of engagement with the characters particularly Sadie. There is a multitude of supplementary content such as childhood photographs and blog posts which exist on each character’s profile, which supports the illusion of the characters existing in the real world. This allows fans to relate and form relationships with the characters. Before the series has even started audience members are already “friends” with Sadie and are giving her advice and putting her in their top friends.

“My generation has grown up with computers and technology being an integral part of our lives. Particularly now in the way that we socialise on social media sites, technology is more relevant than ever. The first film I uploaded to the internet was in the year 2000 when I was ten.”

Through the web, Nicholas says he is directly in touch with his audience and able to distribute  content to them directly.  “As a filmmaker this is far more satisfying than the traditional methods of distribution”

And what about revenue? “I think web video will eventually have to source alternate revenue streams to advertising, however, considering the significantly lower budgets required for web content it is easier to generate profit based on less revenue. We have been in talks with major advertisers and distributors in hopes to generate advertising revenue for Season 2. The goal was to build an audience with Season 1 and turn that into a business with Season 2.”

And just how did I get to know Nicholas? Through social networking, of course (a friend of a friend of a …)!

“My hope is that Sadie will be a friend to thousands of girls and boys. She is absolutely the sweet, innocent girl next door. She is a girl who is chasing her dreams to become a photographer and lead the city life. Hopefully this will inspire everyone to stay true to their dreams and act on them.”