Comment on the Myth of the Twitter Effect

September 26, 2010
posted by sheric

Yesterday, The Wrap covered a story from The Grill Conference on a recent study showing there was no “Twitter Effect” on box office returns. “It isn’t to say that Twitter isn’t popular or an effective social network, but the mantra in the industry about a ‘Twitter effect’ really stands for word of mouth. It is not driven by or consisting of Twitter, and in fact it is one of the least used methods and one of least influential in letting people know about movie opinions,” Vincent Bruzzese said.

I would agree with this in that word of mouth is the driving factor. But is it word of mouth online? The study says no, people are primarily influenced by their closest relationships, their family and friends. People they see very often. I don’t agree though that word of mouth online isn’t useful, it is just not influential if there is no relationship to the person speaking. This means using social networking platforms purely as a free advertising vehicle is a waste of time and will not get you results. Social networking is a relationship platform and this study confirms to me that if you aren’t using it to form lasting relationships, it won’t work for you.

I think Twitter was maybe a bad example to show the power of social networking. While there are certainly plenty of people on Twitter, the vast majority of average consumers I know do not use it. Hollywood films are for the average consumer so they probably do not find out about and are not  influenced to see films by using Twitter. Interestingly, the study shows commercials and previews as the primary way people find out about films. But it didn’t say it had an influence on whether they actually went to see them. Since my focus is not on mass audiences, I won’t take this information too much to heart.

In summary from my perspective, if you are using Twitter as one tool to help build a relationship with real people who would be interested in your work, carry on. If you are using it purely to generate some good looking numbers and show “reach,” you’re obviously going to be disappointed.

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