Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Twitter Effect

About a month ago, a small independent movie called 500 Days of Summer came to theatres in limited release. I had waited with great anticipation for months to see this movie after viewing the trailer, which I admit, left me giddy. It instilled in me a glimmer of hope…a hope there could actually be a good romantic comedy coming to theatres. After seeing the film, I was on a cinematic high. I spent a lengthy amount of time quoting my favorite parts to my best friend. We talked in circles about how incredible the dance sequence was (yes, there is a dance number and it further proves my belief that life should come with a soundtrack). And we fervently spread the word to get more people to see the movie. I went home and immediately posted on my Facebook and Twitter my praises for the film, telling every guy and gal to grab a friend and go see this flick.

Enter the Twitter effect. While I was not aware of it at the time, I and many other users of Twitter and Facebook have started a word- of- mouth phenomenon that has started to affect one of the biggest and most profitable industries in the world.

The Baltimore Sun’s Michael Sragow had this to say in his article, Twitter Effect rattles Hollywood: “Although word of mouth could always make or break a movie, it usually took days to affect the box office. But the rise of social networking tools such as Twitter might be narrowing that time frame to hours. And that has Hollywood on edge.”

Inglourious Basterds, the WWII farce by exclaimed director Quentin Tarentino opened to a shocking 38 million dollars when it was projected by many industry experts to underperform, but thanks to the overwhelming positive support on Twitter, the difficult-to-market film was able to soar above expectations.

The Twitter effect can also hurt films. Just look at such summer bombs as G.I. Joe, Bruno and Funny People. Many experts say these movies failed due in large part to tweets and Facebook statuses exclaiming the films weren’t worth one’s time or money. Ouch.

Over the past month, article after article have appeared in newspapers and magazines. AdWeek and Advertising Age have even made comments on what the Twitter effect means to the movie industry’s genius and if they can find a way to manipulate social media to their advantage.

It is fascinating to think that social media, which is free and can be used by anyone, has the ability to worry one of the most lucrative industries in the world, instantly making facebookers and tweeters movie critics and experts.

All of this goes to prove that social media does work. Proving once again that consumers listen to 20 % of what advertising says and 80% of what people say.


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