The Hunger Games franchise has grossed more than a billion dollars and is a certified global phenomenon. While the success can be tracked to compelling storytelling, big-budget effects, and a talented ensemble, it’s also due to the savvy use of social media.
Later this year, the final film installment, Mockingjay Part 2 will conclude the series (Part 1 hits DVD on March 6th), but its digital marketing strategy will forever remain a textbook example of how brands can make a huge impression online.
True, the marketers behind the movie had the advantage of working with a highly anticipated film franchise built on successful novels. But as a leading marketing tactic, their social media plan couldn’t be anything less than smart, robust, and thorough.
Here are some key takeaways from the campaign that can benefit us all. (And to see how these social media strategies can work for your online business, contact SPINX Digital today).
Plan your strategy
To give you an idea of scope, Danielle DePalma, the social media strategist behind THG, planned the movie’s social media campaign more than a year in advance. Obviously, this amount of lead time isn’t necessary for most campaigns, but the planning highlights an important lesson: don’t implement a social media strategy haphazardly.
Devote time to outlining. What are your goals? Do you just want to promote brand awareness through impressions and shares? Drive traffic to your website? Increase sales?
Also, create a content calendar and have some digital assets such as photos, blogs, infographics, etc. on hand before you start. With a thorough road map, you’re much more likely to succeed.
Know your audience
The Hunger Games began as a series of young-adult novels by Suzanne Collins. Knowing that its audience consisted of enthusiastic users of social media, and that teens are early adopters of technology, the marketers behind the film decided to focus on them early and often.
In this regard, the online campaign was a big success. Reportedly, in the year leading up to the release of the first film, THG’s Facebook page received 800,000 page views in addition to 1.3 million so-called media views for videos and other content.
Where does your audience hang out online? Figure out which social media channels are most actively used by your demographic, and target your efforts accordingly.
Create brand ambassadors
Part of the The Hunger Games’ marketing success story is due to its fans. The marketers wisely put their most loyal fans in the spotlight, which only encouraged more engagement with the movie online.
For instance, they created an ongoing theme of “Fan Fridays” to showcase fan-created content on Facebook. With its YouTube channel, they forged an emotional connection with their followers. Fans then shared the videos and campaigned for the movie all on their own.
Not every brand will achieve a fever-pitch of excitement around its business. But when you distribute great content online and create favorable customer experiences, people will likely promote your company either through Likes, shares, or even through their own posts.
Create incentives for followers and fans
In order to stir up buzz online, marketers behind the movie selectively released promotional materials as the release date approached. But rather than just dropping them into the internet ether, they used Facebook as a dedicated space – provided you Liked the page. Followers could watch exclusive clips and trailers before anyone else.
The exclusive offer is an old marketing tactic, but it remains successful, especially in social media. Give the impression that fans will absolutely miss out on great content if they fail to follow your page.
Use each network wisely
Your brand may not need an attack-on-all-fronts social media presence. Smaller businesses with limited resources should focus on a select few channels.
However, while THG used many networks, it cleverly catered its content to each. In addition to using Facebook for exclusive content and games, Tumblr became a “Capital Couture” fashion blog, invoking the world of the movie to feature images and costumes; Twitter fans were enlisted to “unlock” screenings in their cities and organize film-related puzzle pieces by Tweeting; meanwhile, its YouTube channel featured “capitol sanctioned” videos and fan-created content, while attracting over 45,000 subscribers.
Each channel was customized to play a distinct role in the marketing plan.
Build on brand identification
To bring fans into the world of the movie, marketers created District Identification Passes. Referencing the different districts in the film, users created over 800,000 passes through social media. As a result, they became “residents” of one of the 12 districts of Panem.
What are some ways in which you can let followers participate in your brand? People react so passionately to The Hunger Games because of its emotionally charged narrative. Tell your brand’s story through social media. Share what inspires you, and encourage followers to create similarly themed user-generated content.