If in doubt about the formidable reputation that social media enjoys today, look no further than these figures: There are over 9 crore people on Facebook and 3 crore people on Twitter in India alone.
Not surprisingly, everyone who is someone is in a tearing hurry to build their equity on this platform. Multi Screen Media’s (MSM) English movie channel, Sony Pix, is no different except that it aims to break the clutter in social media, much as it has done in the television space.
Sony Pix EVP and business head Saurabh Yagnik says: “We look at social media as an extension of Pix’s personality in that space.
We believe that the content that we put there is consumed on the second screen, so it’s very important for us to be effective and engage well with social media.”
Unlike many others who till recently only spoke of the number of fans or likes or followers on a page, Pix believes in more significant metrics like the number of people talking about or engaging in a conversation on the page.
“Our focus has clearly been that whenever Pix does something, there is a huge level of engagement that happens and when we look at big campaigns, there is the television, print and digital medium; all of that together constitutes a comprehensive marketing plan,” explains Yagnik.
“In terms of the overall build up, after television, social media is the most significant. Because with social media, we get a clear 10-15 days window in which, we can establish and keep building the property before its premiere on television. Unlike print, which is more here and now, on social media, you can build up the engagement over a longer period of time in a cost-effective manner.”
On facebook, Pix boasts 1.77 million likes coupled with nearly 12 to 15 per cent activity, which implies that at any point in time, there are nearly 200,000 plus people actively commenting, sharing, liking and interacting on facebook. On Twitter too, the channel has 37,100 followers with many of its campaigns having trended both in India and world-wide.
Pix has carried out campaigns around premieres including Men in Black 3, The Amazing Spiderman, Hobbit and Skyfall both on television and on social media. “We always witness lot of traction on social media when we have big premieres. We always have certain themes to the premieres,” says Yagnik.
MIB 3 was about anti-alien day, where Pix said eliminating various kinds of aliens from society was the need of the hour. Hash tags were displayed on the TV screen during the premiere, encouraging people to tweet about the film.
“We were trending through the day at number one and two in India. The anti-alien day campaign trended even worldwide at number four, so it was really encouraging,” beams Yagnik.
With The Amazing Spiderman, Pix pitched the campaign around the amazing people in each person’s life, creating a web of amazing characters and stars.
In case of Hobbit, the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the campaign was based on the thought, ‘where it all began’ and conversations were built around this. “We gave a lot of trivia around the sets, locations, costumes, kind of prosthetics that were used. And we went a step ahead with the campaign by getting Hollywood celebrities to say ‘where it all began’,” recalls Yagnik. Pix then posted stories of Sylvester Stallone facing such dire times that he had to sell his dog for Rocky and Jennifer Lopez travelling in buses and trains singing songs, thus giving the whole thing a human touch.
Skyfall had an interactive game around the mission to save MI-6 and it went so far as to call every player and inform him/her of his mission as a build-up to the premiere. During the premiere, a code was required to be entered as the finale to the game and winners were ferried to the Warner Motion Pictures exhibition in London.
In a separate initiative, Pix’s very own Hollywood insider, Notty Pixy, was received very well, along with her fashion tips and Hollywood inside gossip. Pix got Notty Pixy to take over twitter on one particular day of the week with her personality reflecting in the posts going out on facebook as well.
Finally, the Premiere Pixathon was around the ‘power of four’. “We chose movies that had four big stars, or spoke about Hollywood’s four big stars and what makes them click with the audience, four big cricketers and their achievements, and with this, we used the message of the ‘power of four’ for our big Premiere Pixathon. We also used a hash tag, which was trending worldwide,” says Yagnik.
“On television, the conversation is a monologue where only the channel is conversing with the audience, but on the digital platform, there is a second screen and people love to talk about what they are watching and what they would love to watch and what they are doing and so on.”
Explaining the strategy behind leveraging social media as a platform, Yagnik says: “The moment we engage on social media, it’s no longer a monologue but a dialogue. So one can talk and demonstrate his personality and at the same time, the audience responds and talks back, which is always healthy for the channel.
It acts as a barometer on how posts are being received and what is being liked or disliked by our audience on the digital front.”
While television is all about talking to the audience, social media gives a chance to listen to the audience. “We are in the process of using it as a listening tool and we have already implemented it at Sony Pix and we will do it across the organisation as well, using net-based SAP,” he explains. “For us, social media is a very important tool for demonstrating and engaging our personality to the viewer on an alternate screen, which beautifully complements television.”
Four of Pix’s campaigns made it to the facebook hall of fame. Says Yagnik: “It really makes us feel good that even facebook is recognizing our campaigns. It also tell us that we’ve put in a lot of thought and rigor to ideate and create a very cogent
communication around a property both on- and off- air. The idea is to build intrigue around the property we are trying to market.”
About Tonic Media, Pix’s digital agency, he says: “We leverage collective minds to come up with outstanding ideas and Tonic Media is an extension to the Sony Pix family.”
All of Pix’s campaigns go through its content, marketing and on-air promotion team as well as Tonic Media before being further debated, ideated and sharpened. “It’s always good to have the devil’s advocate, which keeps one on the guard because one often falls in love with his/her own idea and loses focus of what the viewer wants, so it’s a very dispassionate view that one gets,” explains Yagnik.
The channel ensures that the communication is streamlined and reflects Pix’s personality. “We ensure that the on-air, off-air and digital campaigns are all carrying the same message and not misleading the viewers,” says Yagnik. “And finally we need to see the scaleability of the campaign, whether it can be applied across the three platforms. Thought leadership is the centre of what we have to do, and whenever we do something, we need to demonstrate that we are thought leaders and our communication is considered cutting-edge.”
For such a well planned digital strategy, it could well end up being a case study for other channels.