The Humble Beginnings and Social Media Evolution
The Harry Potter series has come a long way since the release of the first offering, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone back in 2001. Ten years later, a lot has changed, and we’re not just talking about how each film in the series proved to be darker than the previous one. While the initial films generated significant buzz offline, it was the release of the ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ that set various social networking sites abuzz with excitement and activity. Although the earlier movie, boasting +325,000 Facebook fans prior to its release in 2009, was termed as a social media blockbuster, the latest and the last in the series ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’, has been nothing short of a sensation, both online as well as offline. Here’s a glimpse at the massive promotional push and the exponential social media surge the finale witnessed just ahead of its release on 15th July 2011:
- Warner Bros’ aim was to reach out the millions of Harry Potter fans; and they did just that by launching a series of social media campaigns in addition to official site, HarryPotter.com.
- The studio, which has had a solid Facebook presence for the series, further increased engagement with fans and launched new apps for the latest movie. The official Facebook page gained approximately 100,000 new fans per day in the week before its London premiere on July 7th 2011.
- Anticipating the excitement online, especially as the film got closer to its release, Warner Bros also created local Facebook fan pages for a variety of different countries and languages.
- The social media experts managing the @HarryPotterFilm Twitter account were highly proactive, engaging with users, sharing links, media articles and posting photos.
- Photos from the New York premiere of the Deathly Hallows were live-tweeted using TwitPic.
- Leaving no stone unturned for the grand finale, the Harry Potter franchise launched an assortment of trailer uploads and fan-made spoofs; additionally, the Harry Potter YouTube channel was used as a repository for official clips, TV spots and interviews.
- The YouTube page also provided fans with access to real-time updates from Facebook and Twitter.
- One of the major factors that resulted in an increase in fan base was the sale of tickets online via social media channels.
- Foursquare, the location-based social network, teamed up with EA games for a promotion where users were offered exclusive Deathly Hallows badges on checking in to the service when they went see the movie.
- Adding to the excitement was the mushrooming of fan sites such as The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet that featured updated information, contests and promotions to keep fans engaged.
- The announcement of the Pottermore website by author J K Rowling increased the hype; the website will open to select audience at the end of July and to the public in October this year.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: The Social Media Buzz
Conversation Volumes and Sentiment Analysis
- The conversation volumes gradually started to rise as the date launch got closer. As expected, the volumes spiked to a whopping 61,438 on 15th July 2011, when the finale hit the big screens for the first time.
- Of the total posts (780,199), Twitter registered the highest share of volume at 26%, with discussion forums and Facebook occupying the next slot (at 23% each), followed by blogs at 22%.
- Sentiment analysis leans heavily towards neutral at 77% (mostly links to the trailer).
- 18% of the conversations were positive in tonality (included posts describing the series as part of a ‘magical childhood’).
- The negative tonality, at 5%, comprised of fans expressing dismay over the Harry Potter series coming to an end. Some were upset over the death of key characters in the final battle against Lord Voldemort.
- The eighth and final installment of the Harry Potter series was talked about the most in the USA, which accounted for 73% of the total conversations.
- This was followed by the UK at 11% (interestingly the key characters in the movie as well as the author are British) and Australia at 5%.
- While 57% of the posts and discussions were by the female population, men accounted for 43% of the conversations.
- Although not completely unexpected, the 20-35 age bracket expressed the maximum excitement and talked about the film the most.
- Contrary to general expectations, the
- At a negligible 3%, the +65 age group was generally unconcerned about the movie.
The social media hype surrounding ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’ shows how the art of film promotion has evolved over the years. Going back just five years, promotional activity for movies was restricted to traditional methods; however, the growing use of social media by movie buffs has certainly changed that. Almost every movie now has a Facebook page and a Twitter account; and the Harry Potter series is no exception. From using social media to build awareness to selling tickets online, Warner Bros seem to have thought of it all. Besides sending out the usual press releases and launching special websites where fans could get the latest scoop, the studio took to social networking sites to debut the latest trailers; a strategy that has paid off handsomely.
Heavy promotional activities for the final part of the Harry Potter series not only ensured that networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter received more than their fair share of buzz, but also led to the launch of several fans sites to satisfy the Potter-fever across the web. While it is natural for the hype to taper down gradually, we are eager to see how the launch of Rowling’s website Pottermore impacts social media. Can this be seen as the author’s effort to keep fans’ interest in Harry Potter alive, even as the series comes to an end? As of now, all we can say is that what started off as a fantasy movie for children has grown into something that is enjoyed, discussed and ‘liked’ by young adults online; and we have every reason to believe that social media is a major cause for this.