When a movie studio – or any other company for that matter – decides to participate in social media marketing, they can take a number of approaches, particularly when starting a blog. Blogs can be built for the studio brand as a whole (or a specific division therein), or for the promotion of an individual film or project. Each option presents specific advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s look at what two major movie studios have done in the social media space.
Fox Searchlight took the corporate brand approach: The studio’s website is a cacophony of Web 2.0 goodness, ranging from RSS feeds to embeddable videos of trailers. There’s also a corporate blog, which announces movie website launches, highlights critical praise for studio films and serves as a general information source. Is everything mentioned on the blog thrilling or exciting to the audience? Not necessarily, but they throw a variety of stuff out there–at little to no incremental cost–and some of it sticks.
Warner Bros., on the other hand, has taken the brand-by-brand approach. The studio’s first blog was for Superman Returns. The blog included general information about the film, links to new trailers, and other web goodies. Subsequent similar blogs have been created, most recently for the Will Smith thriller, I Am Legend, which is packed with interactive games, contests for readers, and lots of back-story on the film. Again, not everything is necessarily thrilling or vital to viewer’s eventual enjoyment of the movie, but fans eager for news and trailers about the film will find everything they are looking for and then some.
Now that we’ve covered these approaches, what are the pros and cons?
Taking the corporate approach allows users to subscribe to just one feed and have one site to visit for all their news on upcoming films. By offering a one-stop research portal, studios are providing a valuable tool for anyone looking to research a particular project or topic. The studio site also appeals to fans and industry and insiders interested in reading about a particular studio’s projects. It also has the advantage of creating brand loyalty between the general public and the studio.
The downside is that anyone who is only interested in finding information about one movie in particular may find themselves frustrated if they can’t easily navigate the site, or if a movie that is less personally interesting is highlighted more heavily than their favorite. Fans who are finding that the site isn’t delivering what they’re interested in may stop visiting, or unsubscribe from the site’s feed.
Taking the movie-by-movie blog approach has the advantage of brand-specificity. A single blog for a single movie can attract a targeted audience looking for in-depth information on a film, perhaps increasing the anticipation for the film, and hopefully the likelihood that the audience will turn out for opening night.
A potential downfall of the individual blog approach is that it requires anyone seeking lots of information on a studio’s films to subscribe to several different blogs, taking them away from the one-stop central location of a studio site. If not under the studio umbrella, individual movie blogs may also be harder to find, and the problem of alerting key influencers to the launch of a new blog must be tackled by public relations professionals.
No matter which tactic is adopted, a blog is a valuable tool for disseminating information to the online audience, and a great way to generate pre-release buzz surrounding a film. The major movie studios need to continue to get in the blogging game in order to reap the rewards of the medium, and I expect many new additions to the movie-marketing blogosphere as studio publicity departments continue to expand their 2.0 capabilities.
Chris Thilk is a Chicago-based new media PR specialist and writer of MovieMarketingMadness.com