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4 Social Media Secrets From The Hunger Games

Everyone is talking about it. And that's no accident. Here's what you can steal from the movie's savvy social media campaign.
Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games
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Fresh off the heels of one of the most successful viral video campaigns of the year, another savvy social media campaign this weekend is reaching a furious pitch.

Surely you know I'm referring to The Hunger Games, a movie that features mild teen-on-teen violence and a deep cultural commentary about our obsession with… media and violence.

Curiously absent from the marketing push were the typical movie tie-ins through traditional media. And it all makes sense: Teens are on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter several hours per day. (Even as I write this, a teen sitting near me in a coffee shop is posting new photos to her Facebook page. I'm not prying, though: She's my daughter.)

Over the past year, the social marketing campaign has enjoyed robust activity: 800,000 page views for various websites and Facebook pages, plus 1.3 million “media views” for videos and other content. To raise awareness, the marketing campaign focused on teens because they are early adopters for new movie franchises. Get the teens on board, who are more apt to buy ancillary products, and you might even attract the parents.

Here are a few lessons from the campaign, which culminates today for the movie opening:

1. Understand the flow

The marketers used a product called thismoment Distributed Engagement Channel (or DEC) to track their social marketing progress. The service aggregates reporting from Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, YouTube Insight, Twitter, and internal page logging to create a holistic view of the campaign. Every marketing campaign lives or dies on the data you collect. The service shows you what is working and what has bombed so you can make changes leading up to a launch.

2. Stick to the brand

As the New York Times reported recently, The Hunger Games kept the focus trim and tight. They released logos slowly, fed small amounts of content here and there, and developed momentum. SRT (the new Dodge brand) is doing the exact same thing with the new Viper supercar, releasing only a passing glimpse so far. (Even the spokespeople are in on the act, denying rumors with a wink.) The Hunger Games also stuck tightly to a core design and wording for much of their campaign. That has led to surprising advance ticket sales and midnight showings last night all over the country.

3. Go multi-message

One thing about the campaign: It hit people on the most popular channels like Facebook and Twitter. I swear I have not even seen a trailer on TV yet or in any magazines. But even more importantly, most of the content hardly even looks like marketing. On Facebook, games and chat sessions, media downloads, and other interactive links made it seem like the marketing was not really there to sell you on the movie but to promote a healthy (ahem) obsession with it.

4. Pick your audience

I’m amazed at how many teens are discussing this film. In other words: The marketing worked. Granted, the movie is based on an extremely popular young adult book series. That helps. But, since I work with teenagers as a volunteer, I hear their chatter: They know who is in the movie, the basic plot points, whether it is violent or not (apparently, it is fairly tame), and who did some of the music. I’ve never seen a music video (the one with Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars) from a side viewing angle at a coffee shop so many times. In fact, this pseudo-trailer is playing right now in the next booth over...

Last updated: Mar 23, 2012

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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