Twitter may be a powerful platform to help get audiences into theaters, but the true impact of tweets on a film’s box office is dependent upon when the messages about movies are actually sent leading up to their release.
A single tweet on average can add $560 to a film’s opening weekend, according to a new study that Networked Insights shared with Variety. Yet the value of that same message fluctuates significantly in the final weeks before a movie premieres.
For example, four weeks before the release — when studio campaigns typically kick into high gear — a moviegoer’s tweet is worth $713 on average in additional box office revenue, Networked Insights found. That declines to $161 a week before the film bows.
The value varies by genre, with tweets for animated family films faring better because they represent multiple ticket holders, taking into account younger audiences who aren’t as active on Twitter.
Tweets that express an intent to see a film are the most valuable — worth $4,420 four weeks before a movie’s release, and $1,100 the week before it unspools in theaters, making them six times more valuable than all tweets combined.
The reason why the value changes is due to several factors.
Studios tend to unleash a blitz of marketing messages in the final weeks leading up to a film’s launch. But much of that is in the form of TV spots that include footage that’s already won over audiences interested in a film, lessening the impact of the ad spend. There’s just less for people to talk about.
A new poster or trailer typically results in a spike in interest in a film on Twitter, with chatter focused on excitement generated around the new marketing materials that turns into word-of-mouth and has a ripple effect on individuals that may not necessarily be active on the social media platform.
The results signal that studios should develop more original ways to promote their films in a campaign’s final days in the future, and perhaps rely less on tactics that proved tried-and-true in the past. That could come in the form of new short-form videos, photos or posters Twitter users could share, since what they’ve been using appears to be getting lost in the clutter of everything else being advertised to consumers.
Since Twitter is primarily used to generate awareness around a film, the decreasing value of a tweet also makes sense as more moviegoers become aware of a title.
Yet early Twitter activity can help studios figure out whether their campaign are on the right track — by putting a monetary figure on the responses to their efforts.
Networked Insights wanted to examine the true value of tweets on box office as 30 million people now talk about movies on Twitter each month. Those conversations can cover everything from whether people want to see a movie, how much they liked or disliked a film, scenes they enjoyed or links to movie trailers.
Just how much each tweet was worth had never been fully examined, however.
“There’s been a lot of discussion over the value of social data when it comes to the movie business,” said Dan Neely, CEO of Chicago-based Networked Insights, which tracks social media discussions in real time. “We wanted to look at what’s the actual value of the consumer engaging with the movie landscape. Now you can actually put an empirical value on it.”
To conduct the research, Networked Insights evaluated over 400 movies released as far back as 2012, and examined tweet activity five weeks before their bows. It used 10 different mathematical models developed across eight different genres, franchises and sequels to measure the impact of tweets. It also took into account other films launching on the weekends and theater counts.
The company also didn’t count 90% of all automated accounts, promotions, giveaways and other tweets that didn’t represent true consumer reactions, and tweets from a film’s stars which can generate big spikes.
“Truly organic tweets are the holy grail,” Neely said.
Networked Insights actually has been evaluating the overall performance of films 30 weeks before their release as a way to provide studios with a way to determine their titles’ opening weekend box office potential based on reactions to marketing campaigns.
By analyzing Twitter chatter, studios also have the opportunity to see whether their marketing campaigns have the right message — and whether those should be altered to increase interest.
Tweets are key to campaigns, given that each tweet represents many silent consumers who do not tweet about the movie, Networked Insight said.
“The ability to measure content quality and provide early measurements of performance is changing the marketing model for movies,” Neely said. “Embedding advanced Twitter analytics from beginning to end will become increasingly critical to expand reach and inform media decisions.”