Ad Age marketing whiz Chris Thilk is disappointed by the official websites for most films. He often asks, "That's it?" after not finding relevant info: bios, multiple trailers, image galleries, etc. Social networking sites (say, Facebook) feature "like" buttons that take advantage of fans as pro-bono marketers. Thilk thinks that it's possible to use such tools to build publicity and attention for a film from its own dedicated site.
Here are his three recommendations:
- "For one, commit to the conversation. There's often no response from studios on the Facebook page to fans' declarations of excitement to see a movie or how much they like the new trailer. If a profile is meant to up the engagement and connection to the movie, then facilitate that.
- Next, adopt the hub-and-spoke model of online publishing. The official website -- a presence the studio can customize the look and feel of and otherwise completely own -- becomes the repository of everything, with updates being pushed out to the social outposts. Build social sharing into each component of the official website, so that those who are visiting it can also share what they like with their networks.
- Finally, put tactics in place that are sustainable. I've noticed movie Facebook pages using the same tactic as other consumer goods and making some material only available to those who "Like" that page. That's to reward such behavior, which generates an update from that user to his or her network, theoretically increasing the exposures/impressions that can be counted. (There are 17 problems with this idea, but let's not get into that now.) But there's long-term value in driving people back to an official website, where they can get a more well-rounded picture of the movie and be exposed to its overall branding more completely."
Bottom line: Go nuts with social networking, it's there to serve you. But, Thilk warns, make sure that your efforts "aren't detrimental to tactics that are more strategic and have bigger, long-term benefits." Sustainable marketing for studios would be to create "a single central online hub" where their entire portfolio of films gets attention from a consistent and growing audience, rather than follow traditional film marketing which is "by and large run as sprints -- short-term ad campaigns -- and not as bigger-picture branding marathons."