On Sunday, hashtags like ##Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was trending on Facebook after Warner Bros released the trailer for the new super hero film. Also #Baahubali, the South Indian action epic trended as it performed well on the opening day. On the other hand, on Twitter, #5DaysToBajrangiBhaijan trended as the Salman Khan movie is nearing its big release this Eid. This is gradually becoming a huge trend, where every movie prior to its release, uses a hashtag to drive conversations and update their fans with posts relevant to the movie.
Infact, on Thursday, the trailer of Sharukh Khan’s upcoming movie ‘FAN’ from Yash Raj Films (YRF) Studio was launched on YouTube and for the next two days hashtags #FanApril2015 was trending on Twitter. The film even though is slated to release in April 2016, has kick-started the first phase of its pre-release promotions, which involves creating buzz and engaging with its fans.
Commenting on the strategy behind using hashtags for film promotions, Manan Mehta - VP Marketing and Merchandising at YRF said, “It is basically to ensure that the audience gets a flavour of what the movie is about and people can develop an affinity towards it. We use hashtags to create awareness and engage with the users through conversations. Twitter as a medium is used for influencing the influencer, it ensures the virality factor, which Facebook doesn’t. For the promotion of ‘FAN’, we have started with Twitter and closer to the release we will be using the other traditional mediums.
Click here to view the trailer of FAN:
How does it work?
Mansi Badlani, Senior Consultant, Marketing Solutions at Alchemist Digital Solutions said, “The main objective of hashtag is to create buzz and keep people interested. When speaking about movies, one should definitely have a unique hashtag that represents your film across various platforms since using a hashtag is the most effective way to reach your Target Audience on any social platform. The film makers are also aware of the fact that actors in their film (like Salman or Shah Rukh) have a huge fan following on Twitter and hence they also want to capitalize on it, by initiating the hashtag. This hashtag then gets re-tweeted by these actors and soon after this, the message spreads and the hashtag starts trending.”
When the trailer of a film gets released on YouTube, movie buffs get to know about it because most of the time, they have subscribed to the channel, which informs them about the release through a mail. As soon as they see the trailer, they start talking about it on Twitter. Also some might start following the official account of the movie on Twitter in order to get updates or may even re-tweet the hashtag, making it more popular. These hashtags are then used by the film makers, fans and fan clubs to keep reminding people about the release of the movie so that they don’t forget to book their tickets.
Puja Nathani, Creative Head at Team Pumpkin highlighted, “Things have changed today, earlier movie promotions used to happen either through posters or on television. But now, the audience wants equal participation in what they are consuming. Therefore, most films today, even before they are completed will conduct numerous polls and contests to create excitement with the audience. The attempt is to connect with the fans and make them feel that they are also a part in the movie making. When Jai Ho was released last year, customised tweets from @BeingSalmanKhan id was sent to all his fans giving details of the release date. Films engaging through hashtag are increasingly growing because it is one of the cost effective ways to reach out to a large number of people.”
Chraneeta Mann, Co-Founder, The Mob feels that a hashtag aggregates like-minded digital community of sorts who share the same interest or passion. So the #Bajrangibhaijaan community, hugely comprising of Salman Khan fans, is basically a one-stop hashtag for all you need to know about the movie – pre-launch hype, music, the making, controversies surrounding the release. It is actually a great platform for movie releases because it is cost effective and gets activated easily. “If there were some sort of a shift I would say that when Bollywood started with Twitter about 5-6 years ago, the tweets were of a more personal nature revealing them as easily accessible humans rather than glorified stars, now Twitter is increasingly a public relations platform using the strength of its followers towards an end such as a new film,” she cited.
Jitto George, Sr. Account Manager, Gozoop said, “People no longer use one screen like they did before. In this era of "screenagers", it is important that you are relevant across all mediums. The reason why movies use hashtags is because their audiences converse online and hashtags are a part of online literature. It is easy for movies to keep a track of conversations happening online with hashtags as all the conversations are tagged. Movies use hashtags to create pre-release buzz and even conduct a sentiment analysis. Nowadays, you need not even check the newspapers to see the review of movies; you can simply check your Twitter timeline or any platform that supports hashtags and you get all the information you seek.”
Hashtags are more effective for brands or films?
Mann opines that hashtags make a lot of sense for feature films in particular as stars of a new film being huge social media influencers already, can reach out to their fan base much faster. “Brands on the other hand have been using Twitter but is it just a ‘must have’ call to action at the end of a commercial or do they actually have an idea that it will be tweeted, retweeted and shared across social media platforms by many? The latter is what determines the success of a hashtag. For the recent #touchthepickle campaign the influencers on Twitter and Facebook started conversations around the taboos. To add to that there were celebrities conversing on the same issue, which gave the campaign the extra outreach and multiplied it exponentially. So like everything else, how far a hashtag will go really depends on how much of a conversation starter your idea is,” she added.
Aditi Das, Social Media Executive at Alchemist Digital Solutions said, “Brand hashtags, have a defined set of followers and their followers don’t increase suddenly unlike movie accounts, where once the trailer is launched, people start following it. But it has its own disadvantage also because once the movie is released; you will see a decrease in people talking about the same. So film hashtags basically have a shorter life span, whereas, brand accounts have a longer life span and hence the followers increase gradually and conversations happen only when they come up with something very interesting or some campaign. Like, Surf Excel is doing a Surf Clean Squad campaign for past few months and hence people are talking about it but before that for many months they didn’t come up with anything big, so the interaction was low. Therefore, the brand hashtag takes time to come up in trends or doesn’t come up at all because it’s just a one or two day thing.”