Twitter fizzles at Comic-Con

Variety reports on the Social Media research we’ve done at Interpret on the effectiveness of Twitter at Comic-Con. My colleague Zack Kirchner guest blogs and has some more details on what we learned.

Despite efforts to generate interest in over 30 different movies that were featured in studio’s booths, the majority of movies featured at Comic-Con did not generate significant enough buzz on Twitter to break the barrier of .01% of total tweets. The movies that did generate significant buzz (Summit’s New Moon, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland & Tron: Legacy, Paramount’s Iron Man 2 and Sony Picture’s District 9) were central to the comic fan’s ancillary interests in fantasy and science fiction. More importantly, the movies that generated the most significant Twitter buzz had established fan bases who re-tweeted the tweets coming directly from Comic-Con attendees, allowing those movies to expand their reach virally. New trailer releases also made it easier for people on Twitter to share links online, which certainly helped Alice in Wonderland, New Moon and Tron: Legacy rise to the top.

One factor limiting the effectiveness of studio’s efforts to promote their movies was the sheer number of movies featured at Comic-Con. Comic-Con attendees were inundated with flyers, posters, buttons and other promotional efforts even before entering the convention. It’s hard for a movie to stand out in the crowd, even when that crowd is made up of rabid costumed fans who live for Comic-Con weekend.

Summit and Disney were the most effective studios at generating Twitter buzz overall. Summit’s booth was constantly surrounded with people hoping to get a glimpse of video clips released at Comic-Con, generating a large amount of buzz for both the original Twilight movie and its sequel, New Moon. Even though Disney didn’t have a large booth to showcase their movies, they gave their fan bases what they wanted with the debut of both the Alice in Wonderland and Tron: Legacy trailers.

Overall, Twitter buzz for Comic-Con is very low with no movie generating enough tweets to even account for 1% of the total tweets during a given hour of the convention. To put these numbers in perspective though, Harry Potter, another movie with an established, active fan base, generated 4X as much buzz as the #1 movie in the box office this weekend, G-Force.

3 responses to “Twitter fizzles at Comic-Con

  1. On the other hand, there was plenty of Twitter buzz generated for parties and general events at the ‘Con, which is where you will likely always see the largest mass of tweets, second to technical and management issues (long line waits, general complaints, etc). This is because fans are there to share with other fans and immerse themselves in the experience- if you want free advertising from the fanbase, you better get to know it and how to use it. I’ll also mention the convention is about more than movies- your assertion that the issue may have been that there were too many movies misses the mark completely. The issue is that there is still much, much more than movies to pull attention away, and it’s all happening at once, so that attention is pulled away quite quickly, and sometimes to more places than just one. Also consider the fact that most movies at the Con stem from franchises with already well-established fanbases, which may work against them, as they compete with the other mediums, and the creators of those mediums, for attention. For example, if at the same ‘Con, both a Harry Potter movie panel is scheduled, and a panel featuring JK Rowling is scheduled, which one do you think is going to receive more Twitter love? remember, these aren’t just people off the street, who may have seen the movie and possibly not even heard of the book series. This is Comic Con.

    To touch further, and use as a positive example, on the aforementioned tweeting of management and technical issues, at least one of the convention vendors is on Twitter: the vendor which manages the wireless network, who was quick to respond and fix it after a handful of attendees tweeted the issue from their PDAs. How is this helpful to the movie industry? I think this is where companies really flex their muscle with Twitter- interaction of some sort. Simply paying attention. Maybe, instead of expecting your audience to randomly tweet about your movie from the panel (which they will, rather than hours later, after a day full of repeatedly moving on to the next thing), you give them a Twitter address at the panel with which to follow them and feed them updates and maybe even promise special info you only give out to Twitter followers. That would certainly give them reason to tweet about the movie/panel presentation, and also gets them on Twitter, during the panel, to begin with. If you tweet special info to your followers, they post about it online, spread it via word-of-mouth, thus furthering your viral marketing campaign.

    The two problem I see with viral marketing, as it is today, is that it is either invasive and annoying, and that companies expect it will result in lots of free advertising via Twitter and Facebook and blogs and the the like, making it even more viral.

    The issue is, as we put it at the tech company I work for: ‘There is no free lunch!’ If movie companies, or really any company or industry, wants more love from the hot online trend setters, such as Twitter, they are going to have to design better, more focused strategies and work for it, rather than resort to the carpet-bombing strategies we’re currently seeing.

  2. Viral marketing is something to fiddle with very carefully, and it’s fairly easy to see who knows the tricks and who doesn’t. Designing something to be intentionally viral often totally fails.

    This also brings into question the real usefulness of Twitter-metrics. Are the people attending Comic-Con even using Twitter, or are they MySpace people? Do they Facebook? What about Plurk? Many of these services have sourcing notes – if what I’m tweeting is coming from LoudTwitter (which simulcasts across a number of services) then chances are if I don’t Tweet about your movie/ad, I didn’t say it anywhere. But if I’m posting from TwitterBerry, perhaps I’ve simply chosen my audience – my Twitter followers may not be movie people, maybe it’s just my WoW guild, and Facebook is getting the movie love.

    Statistics work best with correllation. Twitter is not self-correllating.

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