The Social Impact of ‘Making a Murderer’

Published on Jan 28th, 2016

by Jack Weinstein

Now that the frenzy about "Making a Murderer" has subsided (for now), we wanted to take a look at the social impact of the hit Netflix documentary series.

If you’re not familiar with the show, go watch it. NOW! Seriously. We’re huge fans, if you couldn’t tell. But if you’re stuck at work… "Making a Murderer" is a story about how the justice system failed a Wisconsin man who spent 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit only to be freed and convicted of another despite maintaining his innocence.

Before getting into how the social media world reacted to "Making a Murderer", let’s first discuss a first for Netflix.

The streaming network posted the premiere episode in its entirety on Facebook. Think about that for a moment. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t watched a TV show on Facebook before.

After doing a little research, we learned that other streaming services and cable networks have posted full episodes on social media. HBO, Syfy, Showtime and Amazon, among others, have used full episodes to promote upcoming seasons. They’ve all since been removed.

The "Making a Murderer" premiere was actually the only Netflix post about the 10-episode series since its release Dec. 18, 2015. The post generated more than 5,000 total actions (likes, comments and shares), which outperformed the average Netflix Facebook post in December by 42%. The episode tallied 149,000 views.

"Making a Murderer" also has its own social accounts on Facebook and Twitter , but rather than focus on "tune-in" posts, they’ve been used more to continue the conversation about the series. The Twitter account created in the name of Steven Avery, the subject of the series, has also kept the discussion going.

Netflix doesn’t disclose viewership numbers, but CEO Reed Hastings called the response to "Making a Murderer" “explosive.”

Capitalizing on Recipe Video Success

While Netflix didn’t post a lot about its “most significant show ever,” the social web had plenty to say about it.

While celebrity fans turned to Twitter to rave and vent about "Making a Murderer"—including one who subscribed to Netflix to watch it, which was the most-engaged tweet about the series—publishers on social employed best practices to generate engagement from the series.

One of our favorites was Tastemade’s Cookie the News feature, which included "Making a Murderer" lawyers Dean Strang and Jerry Buting in a recent video. The post employs a strategy perfected last year by producers of recipe videos . They figured out how to maximize engagement by optimizing that content for Facebook.

The Power of Social Video

Social video is highly shareable , which was demonstrated by the engagement generated by publishers who posted about "Making a Murderer."

Buzzfeed was particularly successful, especially on Facebook. Buzzfeed Video’s Story of My Life posted the most-engaged "Making a Murderer" content. SOML's video about the thoughts you had while watching the series generated about 150,000 actions, more than half from shares.

Buzzfeed Video also produced a "Making a Murderer" parody that generated nearly 15,000 actions, more than 30% from shares.

Referencing Pop Culture on Social

Brands and publishers have found success on social in the past by referencing pop culture . One of the best examples is Funny or Die , the humor publisher that consistently generates significant engagement by using what’s happening in the world as a starting point for its original comedy.

Funny or Die posted some of the most-engaged Instagram content with its series of Kratz Kards. They reference Ken Kratz, the district attorney in "Making a Murderer" whose prosecution methods have been criticized since the series was released.

Funny or Die also posted Kratz Kards on Instagram for the Fourth of July and Memorial Day .

Did you engage with a publisher on social about "Making a Murderer"? Tell us in the comments what enticed you to post about the hit series.

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