The Twitter effect
Originally published at go2cinema.com.
It’s the opening weekend of a movie and you’re so excited to see it!
The trailer looked awesome and the cast is good — you clear up your schedule to go see the movie on the third day of its release.
By the second day, you’re no longer interested.
All that happened between the two days was you reading a tweet that said: “A complete waste of time and money. #TheMovieYouWantedToWatch”
Researches at the City University of London described this as the Twitter effect.
Micro-blogging word of mouth (MWOM)
A law-like generalisations of marketing is that the word of mouth (WOM) communication (especially through the close circle of family and friends) is the key source of information in a consumer’s decision making.
Research by City University of London has looked into the micro-blogging word of mouth (MWOM) on Twitter and similar platforms where users broadcast brief messages to their followers.
MWOM is how the consumers use the micro-blogging service to share their experience of a product after its purchase or use. It can diminish the asymmetry of information that exists in the early stages of the product distribution, i.e. MWOM allows early consumers to quickly and widely communicate their product experience.
Studies have shown that about 50% of popular music album sales, 46% sales of movie tickets for major movies and 40% of game revenues are generated in the product’s first week of release. While it is believed that a good budget and cast can get a movie extreme success and profit, micro-blogging through Twitter has shown to bring about unexpected results.
Industry experts have stated that negative MWOM often leads to failure of movies that had budgets in multi-million dollars (e.g. Brüno). While on the other hand, positive MWOM was attributed for unexpected opening successes of other movies (e.g. the remake of Karate Kid).
Study by the City University of London empirically tested existence of the Twitter effect in a category that requires instant success, the motion pictures. The researchers applied sentiment analysis and regression analysis to a dataset of all the messages that were sent via Twitter pertaining to 105 movies during their respective opening weekends in North America (approx. 4 million messages). The researchers found that while positive MOWM outnumber the negative messages, people assign more importance to the negative MOWM. To further back their case, the researches surveyed 1,489 active Twitter users. They were able to identify 600 individuals who have forwent watching a movie due to a specific message on Twitter.
The main factor is time
The immediacy of MWOM (as Twitter is so easily available on the cellphones as well), enables early consumers to share their evaluations of a product with a large audience on the social network in real time. This influences the product’s success as other WOM product evaluations at the time are so scarce.
In fact, MWOM may affect other consumers’ decisions to watch or not watch a movie quite early on. And while it may not be possible to prevent the consumers from sending these messages regarding their experiences, it rings a bell for movie marketers.
As MWOM is so influential, it is suggested that the movie marketers should not try to encourage engagement on Twitter if they expect that the consumers would be disappointed with the product.
In addition to that, we as consumers tend to be less influenced by the rise of MWOM used by media agencies to promote a product, rendering such “tweets” to be highly ineffective. Positive quality information, it seems, has limited impact. This is particularly true for the quality information that is industry-fabricated, i.e. ads native to MWOM platforms.
Where there is risk, there is an opportunity
While it might seem that the freedom that we have as “tweeting” consumers would be a threat to companies and products, it seems that some companies have turned it into great opportunities. Across the United States, some opera houses and theatres hope to attract more customers through the Twitter effect. These theatres have started to offer special “tweet seats” from which audience members can follow a play-by-play thread of information about a performance and share their own insights.
The next time that you decide not to watch a movie because of a tweet, do thank the Twitter effect for helping you save the time and money.
Meanwhile, if you like sharing your movie-going experience, GO2CINEMA has added ability to publish movie reviews. Movie reviews are available as part of the information provided about the movie (e.g. Atomic Blonde (2017) reviews). In addition to user submitted reviews, we provide reviews from all the major movie review publishers (Empire, The New York Times, Variety, Vulture, etc).