Shark Week is a highly anticipated week-long series of feature television programs dedicated to sharks produced by the Discovery Channel. The week of programming first aired July 27, 1987 to raise awareness about sharks and to encourage public respect for sharks. The week’s popularity grew and in its 24th year is broadcast in more than 72 countries.

There is a lot of online buzz about Shark Week, and I couldn’t understand what the hype was all about. Apparently, I’ve  been missing out. Not only are the shows informative and intriguing, the folks at Discovery Channel have integrated a great digital marketing strategy to go along with the buzz.

Discovery Channel built an interactive microsite for Shark Week with a high level of engagement for its viewers. Additionally, Discovery Channel generated a lot of publicity by signing on Andy Samberg as the Chief Shark Officer.

The best element that is integrated across all features are the share functions – after every game, puzzle, quiz, or video you view, users are able to easily share it across their social networks via Twitter, Facebook, Del.icio.us, Digg, StumbleUpon and  email.

If the daily programs aren’t enough to satisfy your shark fix, I’ve highlighted a few of the awesome, interactive features below:

 

iPhone App
Shark Week Live

The iPhone app gets the top score for the live integration with the television content. Shark Week Live is a co-viewing app designed to enhance your enjoyment of the Shark Week shows. Activate the app while you’re watching Shark Week and you’ll be able to view behind-the-scenes content synchronized to the television broadcast. You can also compete in real-time against other viewers by playing the Shark Week LIVE trivia game.

Interactive games

Shark yourself – Upload a photo of yourself and instantly transform yourself into a shark with gills, menacing teeth, and fearless eyes. The photo is complete with a branded Shark Week border. This interactive photo application is great to generate buzz as users can easily share their sharkified photo with a link, or  by using it in their Twitter and Facebook profiles.

Shark Munch In this game, you play a hungry shark feeding on octopus and fish that live on the ocean floor. Be careful to avoid the divers or you risk the chance of being caught in a net.

Shark Quizzes – Ever wondered what type of shark you are? You can find out using the Shark Week quizzes. Try the Shark Survival Quiz that tests your shark safety skills, or the Romancing the Shark Quiz to test your ability to romance a new mate if you’re a single and looking shark in the ocean. The quizzes provide an interactive and fun way to learn more about sharks, as well as generate buzz as users share their results with their friends via Facebook and Twitter.

Live Streaming Video
Shark Cam

The shark cam, courtesy of Ustream, is a live video of the Ocean Voyager exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium. Instead of just a static video, Discovery has incorporated great interactive features including viewings of daily whale shark feedings, and live diver Q&A sessions all week from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. EST. There’s a tracker at the bottom of the video feed that shows how many people are currently watching, as well as the total views.

And of course, you can always find Shark Week on Twitter (hashtag #SharkWeek) and Facebook.

This is a great example of how social media and digital integration can be tied around any theme or any kind of television series when it is well thought out and relevant.

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