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Can robust social marketing ensure success of a movie?

22-March-2013
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Can robust social marketing ensure success of a movie?

Gone are the days when one had to wait for a Friday – the release day of a Bollywood film – to get to know the reviews. These days, movie critics, reviewers and other influencers are shown the movie before the actual release date. All of them have a loyal fan base on social media platforms. Film reviews, thereby, spread in a jiffy and conversations around the movies get a kick-start. A negative review of the movie by any of them could risk losing business at the box office. With a good review, it definitely helps build excitement. 

Keeping these factors in mind, film marketers these days begin their ground work well in advance on social. For instance, prior to the trailer launch of Kai Po Che, Disney UTV teaser pictures and a ‘what Kai Po Che means’ video on Facebook and Twitter gained considerable traction. This gave the launch of the trailer a push on social and conversations around the movie began well in advance before the release date.

While Kai Po Che is a good example of a film that built a healthy conversation prior its release, there are many films that failed to lay down a good base on social. That is a one reason why digital experts are of the opinion that marketer should always be moderating the online reactions and the communication it is sparking. There are various ways to fire fight negative comments and publicity, which should be applied on a pre-emptive level. Positive comments and publicity should be shared and promoted further to endorse the communication of the brand.

Shikha Kapur, Executive Director – Marketing, Studios, Disney UTV said, “Conversations will happen irrespective of whether the studio joins in or not. So, it is better we listen in. We play it by the ear when conversations become hostile. Sometimes we maintain a dignified silence, sometimes we even laugh at ourselves. It’s important to have a sense of humour on social media.”

Kapur shared that Disney UTV spends around 8 per cent to 10 per cent of its marketing budget on social media marketing.

Social emerges as an integral part of Bollywood marketing
Atul Hegde, Chief Executive Officer, Ignitee Digital Service said, “A recent IAMAI report states that with over 74 per cent of all active users leveraging social media, it provides immense opportunity to marketers to target the youth, which is the largest movie consuming population in the country.  As different genres of movies are now being accepted by audiences across metros, social media platforms provide a more targeted reach to the Gen X in these regions.”

From Facebook to Twitter, movie marketers can look at wide variety of tools to engage with the potential consumers. Social media enables movie marketers to catch its consumers at multiple touch-points. These marketing activities can range from live chat, which is not possible in any other medium, Twitter interviews with the stars, and contests on Twitter. Cost effectiveness is another attractive factor that is popularising social in film marketers’ communication plans.

Social media provides longevity, points out Hegde. The first look of a movie, earlier always viewed in the theatre, is now revealed on YouTube instead. Take for instance, Bhaag Milka Bhaag, the first promo was launched on YouTube 7-8 months before the movie release. It already has strong community on Facebook with over 40,000 likes. It is no longer about a 10-week run in the cinemas or the first week collections of movies. Creating and sustaining interest in movies and characters for a long time is what social media offers.

Social media provides accountability and transparency.  For each social media channel, there are specific tools which allow marketers to measure conversions. Performance-based marketing is the differentiator that social media offers. “As the 100 crore cinema culture has started sweeping in, marketing budgets have also begun to rise proportionately. With the advent of social media, even smaller budget movies are given an equal opportunity to promote their movies on social channels”, added Hedge. For instance, Gangs of Wassepur has been a rage online. Without any major brand and a small budget, the pillar of the campaign was its digital marketing.

However, film marketers should keep in mind the differentiating factor while planning its social communication. According to Ravi Jaswani, Managing Director, Digital 9, “A film marketer must tweak its communication for social media. Reason being, one must understand the psyche of people when they log onto social media. People logging on to Facebook have a very different psyche from people using Twitter. Hence, to have a healthy conversation regarding a film or a brand on social media, one must try and marry their communication to trending discussions on the respective medium. It can never sound promotional. It could lead up to that but definitely not start with that. Quite like when you meet someone for the first time to sell them something, you will start the conversation generically and then build up to your offering.”

Film marketers are leveraging social to not only create conversations but also subtly use it for attracting eye-balls at various level of the movie launch. As 2013 brings in big ticket movies, it will be interesting to see what innovative initiatives film marketers roll out to engage audiences.

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