The Marvel universe is wide. But it's not just the fictional comic book worlds they create that are multi-layered. Connecting the brand with multiple generations of fans is a complexity of its own, according to Adri Cowan, social media manager for Marvel Entertainment. who delivered the keynote at day two of the Social Media Strategies Summit in New York City.
She discussed wrangling two main segments of fans — an audience that flirts with the 80 million mark when you include Marvel films — across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Google Plus.
"That's a lot of people to have to talk to at once," she said.
First, there's the 16-29 age range, a slice of their audience that tends to care more about celebrities, internet trends, and popular culture. The familiarity and engagement with Marvel for a portion of the group might also stem more from the recent movies like The Avengers, than the comics themselves.
That means Cowan and the digital content team at Marvel create and post items like character Dogpool with the caption, "Stop trying to make 'fetch' happen, Dogpool," referencing the oft-quoted movie Mean Girls.
Marvel also increased its Instagram presence. Cowan said that once she realized the importance of posting bright pictures, memes, snippets of comics, and even trailers for new comics to bridge the gap between the younger fans who are more into the movies than the comics, Instagram is now one of their fastest growing platforms with about 250 thousand followers.
They've also posted pics of their team being goofy with an issue of Ms. Marvel. "We avoid being The Man," she said.
The 30-49 segment is much different, though. Cowan said this group tends to be more on Facebook and Twitter, and care more about straight brand news, sans frills. Marvel makes sure to keep an eye on current events. For example, when President Obama said "We're building Iron Man" in March 2014, Marvel quickly tweeted at him, "Hey, Mr. President - thought we were gonna keep those Iron Man discussions between us?!"
As Marvel also identified that this segment also is more likely to have grown up with the comic books, Marvel posts content appealing to trivia and history relating to the comics, like snippets of past issues.
The main idea, Cowan said, is to stay away from alienating people when creating content. Though, she did note it's impossible to please everyone. "There's always going to be some curmudgeon out there who just wants to hate you," she said.
Erin Carson has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.