Mainstream film-makers and production houses use all available means in getting the word out about their films, before, during and after release. This kind of promotion activity is driven by a business need to ensure that tickets are sold and box office expectations met. Social media is becoming an increasingly crucial arm of this marketing juggernaut. Social media differs from traditional marketing techniques in its immediacy and directness; it enables a direct relationship with the target audience, a one-to-one feedback mechanism and sharing platform. Film marketing is no longer about releasing a trailer or a few posters and waiting for the audience reaction on opening day. The market survey approach of using focus groups is also passé. After all, social media is the 21st century’s perfect crowd-sourced focus group! It enables real- time, two-way communication, allowing marketing campaigns to be changed based on trends and feedback.
The typical pre-release scenario of a medium to big budget mass market film involves launching official Facebook and Twitter accounts and pushing these through traditional media, online competitions and so on.
Major influencers – movie critics and the actors themselves, among others – are used to create a buzz. Social media managers work overtime to make their product stand out from all the noise on social networks. All this to build buzz and establish a connection with audiences before the film is released.
But what is the impact of this social media exercise? Is it merely about creating a buzz? Or does it translate into box office numbers? Can social media buzz around a movie create a mini economic boom and help brands and products ride the wave? Our experience as the digital partner for the recent Bollywood box office sensation, Chennai Express, gave us some interesting insights into these questions.