When Sally Field took the stage to accept her Oscar for “Places in the Heart,” she notoriously gushed, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me—right now—you like me!”
It appears to be 1985 all over again, for more reasons than one.
To start, entertainers are treating their social communications more like an acceptance speech than a press junket. Last quarter alone, the average media and entertainment brand received a staggering 9,052 inbound messages across Facebook and Twitter. Yet these same brands responded to just 6.6 percent of their fans’ messages.
Ruffalo, Can You Hear Me?
In spite of audiences’ growing demand for dialogue, the media and entertainment industry continues to take a dated approach to social, treating it as another channel to broadcast mostly self-serving messages. In fact, for every 1 reply given to fans, entertainment brands pump out 9 purely promotional messages.
Of course, people don’t necessarily expect to be acknowledged by the likes of Mark Ruffalo in the same way that they expect to hear back from their cable company. If an actor responds, it’s a moment of surprise and delight; if a service company responds, well, that’s pretty much just par for the course (while not answering can have dire consequences).
Still, that doesn’t mean the silence of an entertainment brand can’t be just as bad.
Indeed, a growing volume of evidence (both anecdotal and empirical) suggests that Hollywood’s golden age is entering its final act. Thanks to the networks—from Snapchat to E!—red carpets are no longer seen as out of reach. From mani cams to after-party menus, the mystique of the media and entertainment industry has mostly evaporated.
And while an arm’s length approach to social from media and entertainment brands is generally accepted, it isn’t an effective long-term strategy for increasing awareness and sustaining loyal fans.
Twitter’s Small-Screen Impact
So for how long can these social anomalies persist across across an industry that survives and thrives on fan participation?
Consider this: According to a study by Penn Schoen Berland in the Hollywood Reporter, 88 percent of people said they supplement entertainment experiences with Facebook and Twitter. Meanwhile, 72 percent of people said they go as far as to post about movies they watch on social networks.
Another study—by FOX, the Advertising Research Foundation, db5 and Twitter—found that 66 percent of viewers would actually like to see more Tweets from a show’s cast, official account or host while tuning in. The study also found that 90 percent of primetime viewers who saw TV-related Tweets engaged with the show in a deeper way, either by watching, searching or sharing related content.
What’s the potential upside as a result? Nielsen reports that social tie-ins are starting to directly affect media and entertainment’s bottom line. In fact, advertisers and agencies now factor social engagement into their media planning and buying strategies, recognizing that these channels are better indicators of popularity. Twitter can even make or break a show.
The Deadpool Effect: 360 Social Promotions
Social’s influence doesn’t end on the small screen. An aggressive and non traditional digital and social marketing campaign can be attributed to the success of the R-rated superhero film “Deadpool,” which to date has grossed over $497 million worldwide, widely surpassing BoxOffice.com’s projected estimate of $135 million.
The blockbuster was promoted through a range of social tactics, including a series of slightly bizarre, tongue-in-cheek social videos that appealed to fans, piqued newcomers’ interests and earned free media.
Ryan Reynolds, who produced and stars in “Deadpool,” used his influence to generate much of the buzz. The actor began actively promoting the movie on his personal Twitter in 2015, a year before it hit theaters.
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) February 12, 2015
Three weeks prior to Deadpool’s release date, Sprout Social’s Twitter Listening Report showed that @mentions of the film’s official Twitter handle and brand-adjacent keywords #Deadpool and Deadpool were mentioned on the social platform 873,122 times. Deadpool proves that (for better or for worse) celebrities are in fact human, and social underscores that in a rather dramatic way. So while the industry as a whole may still view itself on the silver screen, audiences expect something much more up close and personal through the devices they carry in their pockets.
Moment of Truth
Twitter is also driving a lot of buzz around awards season. During the 2014 Oscars, for example, the platform reported that more than 5 million people sent 19.1 million Tweets within just 48 hours. That same year, Ellen Degeneres famously snapped a selfie that became the most retweeted Tweet in history.
With all that in mind, the opportunity is ripe for the entertainment industry to go beyond live-Tweeting and actually engage with fans this Oscar Sunday in order to become truly ‘liked.’ But are brands ready?
Darryl Villacorta is the social media manager at Sprout Social. He has a background in digital media and loves all things related to tech, social media and video. Outside the office, his favorite things include acting, songwriting and writing teleplays.