A Hard ‘Hobbit’ To Break: Social Media Marketing from the Shire

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Some of the best social media marketing lessons and trends come from Hollywood. While we may not always remember the last movie we saw, nearly all of us online marketing junkies can recall a memorable YouTube trailer, effective Twitter marketing campaign or Facebook contest pushed out by the biggest movie studios in hopes of scoring a box office hit. The holiday season is big business for movies, and this year all eyes are on one movie with a little hero.

The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey is the first of three new films which take movie fans back to Middle-Earth, the setting of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga. A lot has happened in the world of marketing since the last film, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, came out in 2003. Since then, Hollywood has relied increasingly heavily on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to help drum up interest in the latest big-budget films. Judging by Facebook, though, it looks like The Hobbit will have no trouble finding an audience.

With way over 800,000 “likes,” The Hobbit’s Facebook page is a regular Shirepalooza. From photos of die-hard fans decked out in Hobbit couture and the latest in ticket information to sneak peeks of posters and extended clips, Facebook is a one-stop-shop for fantasy junkies. This week, the page featured live coverage from the film’s premiere in New Zealand. Opening stateside on December 14, the movie has yet to generate the much-coveted Twitter buzz that new movies drool after. Excitement from Twitterland is a must for pop culture products like movies and television shows, but thus far the response to The Hobbit has been a little “meh.” 37,285 followers on Twitter is nothing to sneeze at, but pales in comparison to the nearly 2 million Twilight followers and the close to 40K followers for Les Miserables, which opens on Christmas day. Tweets from the Shire are less dynamic and more commercial than the Facebook posts, suggesting that the team maybe doesn’t quite have its footing when it comes to connecting with Twitter users.

Despite being a global brand with an iconic following, The Hobbit might have a bit of an uphill battle when it comes to get social media users excited. Marketers for the movie essentially have to reintroduce the world of Tolkien to new fantasy fans and filmgoers while trying to reignite the core audience. This could be a tall order in a notoriously slumpish box office year — not to mention during this packed holiday season filled with players who really know how to play the social media marketing game.

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