Film studios use social media to build buzz

The film industry has been one benefactor of the social media revolution that has taken place over the past ten years. Social media has allowed film companies to advertise and build up buzz for their movies in whole new ways. YouTube is the main way that studios deliver trailers and other videos to the public, but they utilize the other large social media platforms as well. Prior to the rise of social media sites, studios relied on traditional means of advertising such as television commercials, newspaper ads and showing trailers before other films in cinema. These methods are still used, but social media allows film companies to reach large audiences and to target certain users who may be interested in one of their films.

One of the main benefits of promoting on social media is reach. Roughly 40% of the world’s population uses the internet and YouTube claims to have over 1 billion users. If the film companies create exciting trailers and ads then they have the potential to reach huge audiences. Star Wars has been in the news recently for the trailer that came out last Monday. The reception to the trailer has been huge with 47 million views in the last 6 days. When the trailer was first released ticket websites crashed because demand was so strong. The Star Wars teaser trailer released 10 months ago has been viewed over 90 million times as well. Before YouTube and other social media sites this kind of exposure would have been extremely expensive if not logistically impossible.

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I think the studios are definitely doing a very good job of creating trailers and content that excite fans. All it takes is one good trailer to make someone want to go and see a film. For example, this trailer alone made me want to see the last X-Men movie well before it even hit theaters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK2zYHWDZKo   Editors have gotten so good that they can make almost any movie look great in a trailer.

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Another strategy that film companies use to advertise with social media is to release teasers up to a year in advance of the film’s release. This gets fans excited and invested in a film early. I heard about Interstellar from a friend and I immediately watched the first teaser when it came out in November 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyc6RJEEe0U This was a full year before the film was released and the studio had already convinced me to go and pay for their product. This is a huge advantage for the studio because I am going to share this content on my social media for the next year and potentially attract dozens more customers. Star Wars employed a similar strategy, dropping its first teaser 1 year before release to build buzz.

Film studios also use the extensive amount of data collected from us online to target advertisements at potential customers. For example, I have been seeing ads for the new James Bond movie Spectre on my Facebook recently. I have not liked the Spectre page though. I have viewed the Spectre trailers on YouTube however. I would imagine that since Facebook knows everything about me, it got some data that I was interested in the film and calculated that I would like to see more content from it. This huge amount of data can be a big benefit for film studios because it allows them to target users who have shown interest in their films but may be on the fence about buying a ticket. Also, a computer decides who to target which takes a lot of the strain off of marketing employees. Social media has greatly changed the way film studios market their products in the last ten years. Social platforms allow studios to reach huge audiences, to get fans excited about films long before release and to use data to target customers more effectively.

4 comments

  1. I agree that Hollywood uses social media incredibly efficiently (and experimentally) when it comes to marketing a release. In my opinion though, Star Wars is not the best example of how to use social media and youtube to build buzz simply because Star Wars has such an impressive following. Although all three of the trailers for the Force Awakens are very well done and clearly nitpicked shot for shot by LucasFilm, they could honestly release anything from the new film and have millions drooling simply because it’s Star Wars. The only oddball social media tactic that I’ve noted the Star Wars franchise has used are the Twitter hashtag emojies which probably brought the first trailer’s view count to the ridiculously high numbers it did. At this point, it seems pretty clear that this film will break a number of box office records but I’d say that’s more so a function of the franchise’s consistent PR growth and not purely social media tactics.
    On the flip-side, if 007 Spectre has an impressive showing in the box office next month, it will be more so a result of social strategy. Like Star Wars, the 007 franchise has an inherent fanbase, but the prevalence of 007 ads on Facebook and the current snapchat story they sponsor shows a more focused SM push as Bond films are released significantly more commonly than Star Wars ones and not as popular in pop culture. Just my opinion though, thanks for some great thoughts on a cool topic

  2. I really have felt that trailers have major pros and cons. On the pro side, I obviously LOVE getting to see a little bit about what the movie will be about, and whether or not I’ll be excited to go see it when it comes out. Also, as was the case in the Star Wars trailers, to get a tiny sneak preview of a movie I’ve been waiting for since I was a little kid. But then again, on the con side, what I cannot stand is that movie studios seem to load up the very best features from the film all into the trailers, and it is so obvious that I actually go into the movie with a negative sense. Basically, the feeling I have is that there won’t be any other funny parts in the movie besides what was in the trailer (I’ve heard that “A Million Ways to Die in the West” is a perfect example of this, but I haven’t seen it yet). But if it’s done right, I agree that social media can really generate more buzz than any TV promos or even theater promos.

  3. Social media outlets are certainly serving to the benefit of films when it comes to promotions and generating hype. I think the synergies that exist between various platforms are starting to come full circle. Typically, I’ll hear about a movie coming out by scrolling thru my Twitter or Facebook feeds. After I have surface information such as what it’s about and when it’s coming out, I’ll take to Youtube. Here, I’ll view teasers, the trailer, sneak peaks, interviews, and any behind the scenes footage. Such was the case with the movie Concussion. If it hadn’t been for Facebook, I probably wouldn’t even know that this film is set to hit the screens on Christmas of this year. However, thanks to social media I am not only aware of it, but am also following it closely. I check Youtube every week or so for new trailers and sneak peaks in regards to the film. I have done plenty of research, and I feel as if my anticipation to see the film grows with each social update surrounding it. Thanks to social, I’m sold.

  4. Nice post. You should check out @bismansethi123‘s post, which is about a similar topic. There was some research a few years back that was basically able to predict a movie’s opening weekend revenue based on Twitter data.

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