Where were you when The Reapers invaded Earth? Well, if you were a gamer waiting for the launch of Mass Effect 3, you were probably reading the reports from Emily Wong on the @AllianceNewsNet under the hashtag #solcomms.
During the day of March 5th and carrying on through the 6th, you could see how the Earth was falling – not just from this ‘news reporter’ but the from the multitude of ordinary citizens around the world who told of their experiences. From across the US of A to the UK, from Europe to Australasia – the tales of heroism and desperation came flooding in. @103rdMarinesDiv tried to firefight the invasion while civilians made it to the evac points. @Sintakhra, the UK Communication Net, kept track of the mighty SSV Normandy and its intrepid Commander Shepard – as the fleet fought its way to safety. Even after the final message from @AllianceNewsNet at 3.45am – < Signal Lost > – the story continued.
That’s exactly what it was. A brilliant exercise in Twitter marketing, conceived by Bioware for the launch of the aforementioned videogame, Mass Effect 3. Of all the hundreds of Twitter accounts that recounted tales of Husks, Cannibals and Reapers – just one was set up by Bioware, @AllianceNewsNet. That started the story, the rest carried it on. There was no cheesy ‘RT this’, no prize for taking part, no encouragement to spread the word. But the ME Fans did just that.
They got involved. They made the story theirs. Through adding their own adventures to uploading pics of the events. (Yes, people even created their own photo evidence). Sure it’s geeky. Very geeky. But it was engaging. Enough for many to get carried away for a while in the fantasy, having a bit of fun, being drawn together, building the hype – and ultimately, creating a nice bit of marketing for the game itself.
All in all, it was a 21st century social media ‘role tweeting’ reboot of the infamous ‘War of the Worlds news broadcast’ by Orson Welles on October 30 1938. When millions of Americans tuned in (and panicked) to reports of the Martian invasion of the earth. Though this time, they didn’t hide in cellars, load real guns and wrap their heads in wet towels as protection from Martian poison gas, they picked up their game controllers and prepared to ‘take Earth back’.
It’s all about telling a story in Social Media nowadays – for marketing and social recruiting – and this is a classic example of what can be achieved.