Apocalyptic battle or epic love story? That was the question on everybody’s lips as social media’s popularity exploded and movie goers started finding more ways to watch movies. Was Hollywood going to land on rocky ground if the behemoths of social media and the movie industry met?
According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 42% of smartphone-owning movie fans under the age of 35 hop on their favorite social media sites to help them decide which movie to watch. With that in mind, it only makes sense for Hollywood to embrace social media, which it has done whole heartedly.
So how is social media changing the way the movie industry promotes its latest offerings?
Time was, viewing the latest movie trailers was reserved for previews in cinemas, or commercial breaks on TV. Now, studios can premiere everything from exclusive content to first-look posters and teaser trailers on social media. A flight safety video themed around hobbits and middle earth, released ahead of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, went viral, drawing plenty of extra attention to the movie. As well as giving fans the sense of having access to something new and exclusive, social media promotion is a savvy move from the point of view the marketing budget.
Rather than paying for TV slots and billboards, studios can essentially enlist fans to do some of their marketing for them. Video streaming service Netflix has embraced the power of social promotion with its Facebook tie-in. Subscribers share what they are watching and what they think of it – satisfying their need to share their thoughts with the world, and getting the word out about the latest and classic releases for free.
Using Social Media to Build Hype
Social media is a great tool for creating buzz about a film before its release. When Pixar and Disney released Toy Story 3, they tuned in to social media with a campaign designed to appeal to the franchise’s adult fans. Nostalgic videos showcasing the film’s new character, Lotso, quickly spread across social networks. College-age fans could use Facebook and a valid college ID to gain access to exclusive shortened campus screenings, tasty little cliffhangers that whetted their appetites for the full movie.
The result? Toy Story 3 became the most successful animated film of all time. Disney also created a buzz across social networks when it came to the release of Alice In Wonderland. The studio started by showcasing art from the movie on Facebook, and then got fans engaged with a viral campaign that gave them the chance to become loyal subjects of the red queen or the white queen, or a disloyal subject of the mad hatter. The largest army of subjects ultimately got an exclusive trailer that no one else could see.
Social Media Creates a Virtual World
Moviegoers know the power of the silver screen is feeling part of something.
They don’t just watch the hero battle the monster in the deadly swamp, they battle it right alongside him. Social media provides Hollywood with opportunities to create fun interactive campaigns that put viewers right there in the heart of the action, even before they set foot in the cinema.
Take The Hunger Games for example. Lionsgate’s social media campaign brought fans right into the movie’s fictional world, Panem, using their Facebook or Twitter account to record them as a citizen and assigning them an occupation, district, and citizen number. As well as downloading their citizen passes for use on their social media profiles, fans were encouraged to join their district on Facebook where they could take part in discussions and receive news and decrees from Panem’s government.
Social Media Gives Fans Say
When it comes to getting fans involved, Paranormal Activity took it to a whole new level. The low-budget horror got its start with just 13 limited screenings near college campuses. Audience reaction footage was incorporated into trailers that soon went viral. The hype built quickly, you could even say supernaturally, with fans registering their “demand” for a screening in their hometown. The campaign let the studio, Paramount, see where demand was highest and tailor their screenings accordingly. Demand eventually grew great enough that a nationwide screening was secured. The movie became Paramount’s longest-trending Twitter topic to date, dominating social networks around each midnight screening.
Social media and the movie industry have great chemistry. Social media provides a means of building and spreading buzz about upcoming releases in a way that gets fans deeply involved, adding to their sense of ownership of a movie. When it comes to creating worldwide hype for the latest offerings, social media is the way to go.
About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on subjects as diverse as health, marketing, business, and SEO.