How is social media affecting the film industry?
Film is an industry that is ever-changing, yet completely constant. Since the dawn of the cinema era, film has been a favorite pastime for everyone. It is a highly profitable industry, and although there is conspiracy the industry will slowly die off in this age of online streaming, it seems these services, along with the help of social medias, actually have helped expand upon the power of film and the people that can be reached. Social media is something that has slowly integrated its way into the daily lives of most all Americans, and it is something that has proven to have a major effect in many areas of our lives. One of those ways is by affecting business, and the movie industry is no exception. While social media has affected films from all aspects- star power, criticism, keeping old films alive, crowdfunding, etcetera, I want to focus in on the issue from a marketing perspective.
Marketing is arguably the most important department when it come to the success of a film, and social medias have brought about many creative ways to go about this. Once upon a time, marketers had to choose between poster distribution, commercials and previews, and promotional items to stir the hype for a film. Those methods, while still effective today, are tired and honestly boring. Because of social media, marketers can directly reach out to fans in ways that create a two-way medium for communication and community. It fosters organic interest, and for a fraction of the cost of more traditional forms of promotion. In Europe, marketers created a “Despicable Me 2” campaign that encouraged viewers to share with friends; Universal pictures had their fans marketing for them.
Social media has created a breeding ground for marketers to find their target community and speak to them. This creates a completely different culture than that of before the digital era. As one source said, “Cinema productions and distributions were closed-doors institutions, inscrutable bearers of mysterious knowledge. Nowadays it’s a totally different matter: they have opened up to a world of conversations, fan contributions and inputs, same-level relationships mediated by digital means.” (hyperlink- https://www.lafabbricadellarealta.com/hollywood-social-media/)
For example, if you as a marketer are promoting a paranormal thriller that features horror-film creatures, you already have a distinct target market that is easily reachable via social medias: the ever-dedicated Supernatural fan community. And this is true for all genres and types of films. Social media creates a buzz, but it also creates a platform in which fans can directly communicate with actors, writers, and producers of the films they so love. It builds an odd sense of trust within fans and viewers and helps create a loyal fan base. Which, in the film industry, can seriously take your profits to the next level. For example, after 1 million social media “demands” for a nationwide release of the film Paranormal Activity, Paramount gave in. Their active-listening across the nation allowed them to effectively meet the needs of their audience.
This aid does not come without its kinks, however. Just as easily as social media can build a film and the hype around it, it can also completely ruin it. As Digital America put it, “Today a film can be almost surgically destroyed on its opening night, indeed before its first showing is completed.” This is because social media has created a way of communicating with so many people at a much quicker pace than traditional word of mouth (pre-digital era). Online, everyone’s a critic, and there are plenty of personal platforms and public forums that welcome these kinds of discussions. As a study conducted by Penn Schoen Berland for The Hollywood Reporter reveals, “72% [of moviegoers] post about movies on social networking sites after watching a film, while 20% post before and 8% during” (Godley). Because of the de-professionalization of criticism, a film’s opening nights are crucial in determining its success. This just goes to show how powerful social media really can be in this particular industry.
While the medias can serve as both a springboard or a brick wall for the success or demise of films, I believe as we continue to learn and advance more into this digital age that social media will eventually become the most primary form of advertisement and film production. The film industry is a very traditional industry, and it is an industry that only continues to grow, and with it, the use of social media in marketing.