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IFC's Five Rules for Romancing Geeks When it comes to capturing the attention of digital-savvy customers, IFC nailed it with 'Portlandia'. Here are five ways the network reeled in this niche audience.

By Shira Lazar

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Portlandia
'Portlandia' stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein

If you haven't seen Portlandia yet, there's a good chance you're not a geek. Or maybe you're a geek who hasn't seen Portlandia yet. Regardless, the IFC show, which airs on Fridays at 10 pm eastern, has made its mark by poking fun at hipsters and granola aficionados alike -- garnering attention from an unlikely, though loyal crowd: geeks.

Targeting this audience who is naturally digitally savvy with the right shareable content has allowed the network to gain relevance, buzz and a boost in ratings. I spoke to the President of IFC, Evan Shapiro on the network's philosophy and strategy for wooing the Web:

  1. Remember, the Internet isn't killing TV.
    TV watching has actually increased by 25 percent over the past five years. People have found an additional hour for TV per day. The Web has actually enabled our audience to find and watch more TV that they love.
  2. Give them top-tier technology.
    It also helps that we give Web viewers special treatment. Not only did we sneakily plant an episode of the new season on Facebook, we created 'IFC Sync,' which is a true second-screen ecosystem for the new season that aired this past Friday. We teamed with ClipSync to create an omni-screen (ipad, mobile, web, etc.) offering for Portlandia-philes. Fans can watch, and interact live with Fred and Carrie, get extra content and trivia on the show.
  3. Make social media your friend.
    Our 'More Likes, More Portlandia' campaign allowed our fans to 'Like' the Portlandia Facebook page to unlock more and more content from the show. This increased our Facebook likes by 100 percent since Thanksgiving, and has generated millions of views of content from the show across Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, etc. We also targeted online press -- Vulture, Salon.com, Huffington Post, etc. -- specifically to help generate the kind of online buzz that makes these types of shows.
  4. Cater to the Web.
    Since the "Dream of the 90s" episode aired last year, we realized that the show was tailor made for viral. Go to YouTube and search for Portlandia. It's kind of remarkable. 'Put A Bird On It,' 'Is It Local?,' 'Dream Of the 90s,' 'Did You Read?' all are unqualified hits. As the show came in for season 2, we looked for the gems that could catch fire online.
  5. Don't Be Afraid to Experiment.
    Putting up our entire 'One Moore' Episode' on Facebook, and IFC Sync are great examples of us thinking outside the box to bring something interesting to the fans. But perhaps the biggest experiment is our live tour 'Portlandia: The Tour.' It's a six-city, live tour that was put together incredibly fast to reach our fans, spread the word and celebrate the show. The entire tour sold out in less than 24 hours and the crowds have been quite amazing. In the end, besides these rules there's a love of the character Fred and Carrie create. It sounds corny, but that love and passion is what drives everything we do. And I think it's why the show works.

How have you successfully captured the attention of Web-savvy customers? Let us know in the comments section.

Shira Lazar is the host and executive producer of What's Trending live Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Pacific and Partners Project, interviewing your favorite YouTube stars weekly.

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