Movie Marketing: Its Own Worst Enemy

With Facebook the Movie: aka The Social Network hitting theaters this weekend it got me thinking about social media and movie marketing. I am not alone in this, as a quick Google search turned up a recent AdAge article that pretty much said what I was thinking, “Why Do Most Movie Websites Suck?”

I’m a huge movie lover, but I’ve hardly ever met an official website I didn’t hate. I always assumed it was because they’re generally full of flash and graphics with very little text. I’m a writer, I like reading. Chris Thilk, the author of the AdAge article agreed with me and he took it one step further. It’s not just that official websites are bad, it’s that the Facebook pages are better.

Facebook pages usually have more links to trailers, more photos but most of all, they have a means of exchanging information. I can ask a question about a film or proclaim my love of the lead actor. Few official movie sites are set up for this kind of interaction. Their idea of interaction is allowing me to type my name in so the site addresses me properly when I play their silly up and down button games.

In order to engage with the movie goer, Thilk suggests that studios do a better job of looping all of their products together. Use the Facebook and Twitter to mention a new trailer that’s on the official site. More importantly, he says studios have to “commit to the conversation.” Why corral a whole page full of fans then ignore them when they ask questions? That’s the problem with both websites and movie FB pages — often they feel like empty theaters. Pretty pictures on the wall but no butts in the seats.

I imagine that one of the reasons movie Facebook pages do have more information is because they are easier to update. It’s easy to slip in an unexpected appearance by the star in his home town, but adding a notation to a finely crafted flash site is near impossible.

Before writing this, I went to the official website for The Social Network. The opening screen (seen above) isn’t inviting and is a little confusing. I clicked the button to enter and got a slowly loading popup window with quotes from critics. None of which I read. Then I had to click another button which took me to the window you see here. At that point I said forget it.

Usability must be a dirty word in Hollywood because it’s obvious they were going for art over substance. I shouldn’t have to click through three sets of windows just to get my first snippet of useful or interesting info. That’s why Facebook works. When I hit the fan page for Secretariat, I see a question I’m likely to answer, photos from the premiere, a video tab with trailers and lots of conversation. That’s how you get people excited about a movie, or for that matter, any product, service or person.

Do you know of a movie website that engages? Point it out to us. We’d like to know.

  • http://www.mikepedersen.com Mike Pedersen

    I am also a big movie buff, and usually see movies on the “first Friday”. There are a lot of mediocre ones and some that I like, but my taste may not be that of others. I did watch The Social Network today and liked it. I thought the guy who was Mark Zuckerberg was awesome. Justin Timberlake was good as Sean Parker. I wasn’t disappointed.

    Regards,
    Mike

  • http://www.seevolution.com Sasha

    With a few very simple steps the movie websites can easily be connected to the Facebook/other social media websites. Because this can be done so easily, I don’t understand why these sites are so bad. They feel like beautiful brochures for the films. Nice to look at but not very interactive.

    • Cynthia

      “Beautiful Brochures” – I like that Sasha. That’s very true, but the question is, do they entice you to buy a ticket?

  • Amanda Freeman

    Disney seems to be the only studio making interactive websites that actually have content which is fun and entertaining. Look at something like http://www.disney.co.uk/toy-story or http://www.disney.co.uk/tron. Both very different audiences but have the same type of interactivitiy which other very flat and bland movie websites are lacking.