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Narcos, Netflix, and How Facebook Works for Streaming Services

Netflix recently released a study which pinpointed when people become addicted to a TV show.

hooked netflix

The study analyzed data from Netflix viewers that started watching season one of selected series between January and July 2015 across 16 different markets, including the U.S., Brazil, and Australia. It revealed the following surprises:

  • The pilot episode never seals the deal: For instance, How I Met Your Mother hooked users on episode 8, while Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt hooked viewers on episode 4.
  • 70% of viewers who watched the “hooked” episode went on to complete season one of that show.

Netflix also recently released a show called Narcos, a serialized take on drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (premiere date: August 28).

narcos netflix

The show has picked up an incredible amount of buzz and, apparently, viewers: it was just renewed for a second season on September 3.

Narcos, Netflix, and How Facebook Works for Streaming Services

Now, we know that a television show’s success comes down to one primal thing — how many people are watching — but a huge part of how shows gain traction and brand awareness in today’s heavily social climate is by activating their fans on social via owned content.

facebook narcos

This is especially true for companies like Netflix, who don’t have the benefit of frequent commercials that traditional networks like ABC or NBC pump out.

Social marketing has become even more important to a brand like Netflix or Amazon than it is to ABC or NBC as a primary channel for spreading awareness and picking up viewership.

The Narcos fan page saw a 36.4% increase in Facebook fans in the month of September alone, reaching over 1 million fans by the end of September.

page fans narcos

So which tactics did Netflix employ to make this successful audience growth (and some killer engagement along the way) happen for Narcos on Facebook?

Less Lead-Up

In September, Narcos posted double the amount it did in August — 28 vs. 14 times. This is antithetical to traditional TV marketing, which relies on long, heavily saturated lead-in times.

Instead, Narcos chose to post a flurry of content once the show was released.

narcos netflix

It’s worth noting here, however, that Netflix , not Narcos, posted the series trailer to its page on August 18th as a way to build interest for the series and spread awareness for the Narcos Facebook page among Netflix’s biggest fans — the people who like the brand on Facebook.

Changing the Cover Photo

It’s incredible what something as “simple” as changing your brand’s cover photo can do.

facebook narcos

That’s because when you change your cover photo, it shows up in the feed of people who Like your brand.

Netflix also changed its cover photo to heavily promote the show:

narcos netflix cover photo

This tactic works for Netflix twice: once when the cover photo is initially changed and shows up in people’s newsfeeds, and once when people visit Netflix’s Page and are reminded of this hot new show they should be binge-watching, like, right now.

Let the Binge-Watching Begin

And speaking of binge-watching, the Narcos Facebook Page isn’t afraid to interact with the excited people commenting on its content.

narcos whatever it takes

In this post, Narcos responds to its top comment with a short, straightforward piece of encouragement (or threat? It’s hard to know with this show) and gets 199 Likes from that easy response.

The All-Powerful Trailer

When it comes to TV shows or social content in general, you can’t beat video, and you definitely can’t beat trailers.

narcos trailer

It’s truly amazing what a trailer can do. A trailer gave the Narcos Facebook Page its most engaging post of August.

Simply measured narcos

That’s14k interactions, 89% of the week, making the week of 8/16-8/22 more successful than all other weeks in the month, including Narcos premiere week and other weeks when the Narcos Facebook Page was more prolific.

Videos in Lead-Up, Striking Photos Next

Narcos‘ engagement by content type tells a fascinating story. In August, the TV show’s Facebook Fan Page posted an equal amount of photos and videos, but received almost double the amount of engagement on video content.


This makes sense when you consider how popular the TV show’s trailers and teaser content during this time period were, as mentioned above.

In September, on the other hand, 28 pieces of content were posted on Narcos‘ Facebook Page (double the amount Narcos posted in August). 79% of those posts were striking photos, accompanied by a humorous, timely caption, like this one…

narcos upgrade

…or in-image words which mirror the violence of the show, like this post:



In Narcos‘ more photo-heavy environment of September, photos actually did better — a rarity on Facebook.

videos videos


Photos received more than 4x the amount of total engagement than videos did.

Opportunities to Know More

There’s a lot of opportunity for further analysis here: what if Netflix layered the biggest time window for watching Narcos and average viewing time in one sitting with the social data on display here?

time of day

Their social team would receive invaluable information about how, when, and why fans are reacting to content: because of the content itself? Because they visited the Facebook Page as they were watching the show?

This, in turn, can help a media brand like Netflix create better social content to fan the flames of its growing audience base.

If you want to know how to do the same for your brand, tweet @SimplyMeasured, and for more strategic optimization tips from the best of the best, download our 2015 Facebook Industry Report below.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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