Social Listening Being Used to Analyze Audience Reaction in Movies Today

Sameer Narkar, Founder, Director and Chief Software Architect, Konnect Insights

There are not many industries that see as much money pumped into individual projects as the movie industry. At the same time, not many industries see as much money lost on single ventures. This is the reason an increasing number of studios are using social media analytics to predict not just the box office success of movies, but how to go about marketing them.

Social listening is a growing field that uses algorithms to slice and dice chatter on social media. It is a process through which companies and brands track social media conversations around specific phrases, brand names or hashtags to keep a tab on consumer trends or gauge consumer feedback. It essentially takes information that is culled continuously from Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, movie blogs and other sites and provides coming movies with scores in various categories. The system, for instance, looks at the size of the online conversation and how much of it is positive or negative. It also tracks how much activity is organic and how much is the result of specific studio efforts.

In the last few years, a handful of companies have started tuning into social media conversations to gather information on how people perceive movies and their stars. In a multi-billion dollar industry, where production budgets can top $200 Million per film and marketing budgets may soar just as high, insight into what people think about a leading man or blockbuster trailer and acting upon that knowledge, can flip a film from flop to hit.

According to the New York Times, the studios are using social media listening to track the chatter about a film a year or so before its release. A promotional campaign often starts more than a year in advance, as soon as actors are cast, and can reach high gear six months before release. It is not unusual for a studio to release three trailers for a big movie and multiple online promotions.

By analyzing the makeup, actions, and behaviours of the audience, one can learn new dimensions about their own business, target audience more effectively, and ultimately generate more, better consumer relationships through social platforms. Social media analysis can also help writers chart plotlines as they note the audience's reaction. Characters and actors that resonate with an audience can also be amplified.

The metrics used to evaluate how to communicate about a movie include web behaviour, users’ interactions with campaigns and, of course, organic mentions across social networks. For example in Pitch Perfect, one would think this movie drove online engagement among female audiences with an interest in Glee. But before the movie was released, social media analytics revealed that it was actually trending among men, most of whom were not Glee fans. This “allowed Universal to change its pre-release strategy for the film, which they did with great success.”

One way to more extensively understand an audience beyond their demographics is by finding their Interests. To better understand how this concept works, a look at the interest graph can show how a collection of signals and behaviours of what they like, who they follow, what they search for, what they share, and more which are found in their social activity can help predict what these people might be interested in.

In the Indian scenario, Social Listening has been employed for a film promotional campaign by makers of 'Phillauri'.

Shikha Kapur, Chief Marketing Officer, Fox Star Studios India, explained how while social listening tools have always been used by brands to monitor online chatter, the company has gone ahead and integrated social listening tools in the digital campaign. “For Phillauri, we have created ideas that are experiential in nature and invoke participation from the target audience. We expect this digital campaign to garner organic traction and engagement with social media users.

And that is precisely what is needed today to stay one step ahead and reach success.