How Social Media Will Decide The Oscars

WATANI: MY HOMELAND tells the epic story of one family’s escape from war-torn . An  and Marcel Mettelsiefen film.

On a recent interview on an international radio station a journalist was interviewing an Academy Award judge if he (name withheld) would consider voting for Watani for best documentary at this years Academy Awards. 

His answer was shocking to the journalist, but for those of us in the industry it was a verbal slip of refreshing honesty…..

Guest: “I haven’t heard of it until you asked me to be on your show

Journalist: “Well what do you think?

Guest: “To be honest I won’t have time to see it and they only have a few thousand followers on twitter so maybe”

We all know what that “maybe” means in real life – no.

What does this mean to the chances of Watani or any film hopeful for Oscar glory?


They just went down from contender to long shot.


And at Social Media Thunder we know about leveraging social media, the media and communities because we have worked on a films like Monsters, Attack the Block and Oldboy.

The reason why distribution companies bring us in is because they need bespoke campaigns that can cut through the noise. Something different. Something extradorinaiy. Something that works.


Gone are the days when distribution companies could just rely on massive billboards or unimpressive publicity stunts or the usual press tours, instead these films each took a percentage of their marketing budget and asked us to put together something that would go viral. That would have everyone talking about the film and which would convert to revenue.


Back to Watani.


The film is powerful, heartfelt and moving and it was tragic to hear that the interviewee dismiss the film on the basis of the number of followers on twitter.


But it’s reality! Our success is proportional to the size of our platform.


The more people who follow you, who engage with you, who are in dialogue with you, who is talking about you equates to one answering one question – are you a high risk or low risk. 


Tech knows this – in this market we build and market as we are building the product, films who have followed this tactic have done well (take a bow JJ Abrams). Unfortunately, early on in the process the marketing is often ad hoc at best.


Let us put ourselves in the position of executives at a film studio – if your film script, storyboard, twitter account has 400 twitter followers and someone else is also pitching you and they have 40,000 twitter followers which do you think will get more attention?


Artistic merit aside the movie industry is driven by numbers. 


While both pitches may be listened to the pitch with more followers will be considered in higher regard.

The Psychology Behind Social Media


“…..we can see that social proof is most powerful for those who feel unfamiliar or unsure in a specific situation and who, consequently, must look outside of themselves for evidence of how best to behave there.” 
― Robert B. CialdiniInfluence: The Psychology of Persuasion


Dr Robert Cialdini’s work in the field of psychological influence is well documented and states that the evolutionary psychology of our species favour and trust where other groups of people are already. After all our survival as a species has depended on us in herds – safety in numbers.


Also, the principle of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) also becomes a contrary influencing factor – “if everyone else is following this film then why aren’t I?”. And while we all consider ourselves above such obvious influencing strategies the truth is that these strategies effect us on a much deeper level which is harder to control.

1,000 True Fans


An essay written by Kevin Kelley, Editor of Wired, discussed that for the “tipping point” of a tech company they needed at least 1,000 true fans. These are not fans who are fleeting or curious, but fans who are obsessed, who are passionate and loyal. They will defend and advocate you. They will fight your battles.


And movie execs know this. 


If you have no community but a brilliant idea you are a high risk. You may derisk this gamble by having a “name” as an actor, producer or investor, but nothing will increase your success rates more than openly demonstrating that you have the embers of a hungry community at your fingertips.


Never forget, success breed success.


Who knows maybe next year you will be collecting the golden Oscar. Whatever happens you have the opportunity to put the odds in your favour. And that is real power. 


If you want to discuss how we have helped other movies and how some strategies could support your project feel free to reach out and email us