Harnessing social media for effective film promotion

Harnessing social media for effective film promotion

RMIT Senior Lecturer in Professional Communication Dr Nguyen Van Thang Long sheds lights on the indispensable role of social media in film marketing.

Discussions and sharing of film-related content on social media platforms tend to lure movie lovers for several key reasons. 

Firstly, with the prevalence of social media usage, potential audiences are increasingly inclined to keep an eye on daily activities, trends, and discussions. They are actively seeking information on relevant products and services. Driven by the fear of missing out (FOMO), individuals within social media communities swiftly engage in conversations surrounding trending films and entertainment. Common questions such as “What film is that?” or “Have you watched this?” frequently appear, ensuring that film-related information remains timely featured in users' feeds. 

Secondly, personal profiles, along with posts from friends, family members, and various groups, as well as endorsements from artists and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), regularly spread details about forthcoming movies. This helps audiences keep abreast of film details, including behind-the-scenes information, cast members, and character profiles, thus enhancing the film's visibility. 


Dr Nguyen Van Thang Long, Senior Lecturer at School of Communication & Design, RMIT Vietnam Dr Nguyen Van Thang Long, Senior Lecturer at School of Communication & Design, RMIT Vietnam

Thirdly, today's social media landscape encompasses a diverse array of platforms, ranging from TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, to Instagram. Consequently, films are beneficial from increased exposure across multiple channels, leading to a proliferation of content formats such as status updates, images, and both long and short videos. Additionally, different comments and reviews across platforms foster interest and curiosity among potential audiences, motivating them to flock to cinemas. 

Fourthly, particularly among Gen Z, social media serves as a primary means for connecting and exchanging ideas with peers, family members, and interest-based communities, with entertainment and cinema emerging as popular topics of discussion. As the predominant source of information for them, social media not only facilitates the dissemination of entertainment content but also provides a platform for individuals to share personal experiences and opinions with their networks. 

For film distributors, social media is emerging as a significantly more effective promotional tool than traditional channels. However, it necessitates more investment of time, resources, and budget to generate diverse content through various stages of film production and promotion. This includes tailoring content for multiple social media platforms and aligning with the perspectives of KOLs across different fields. 

Utilising social media for film promotion does not guarantee an influx of audiences to cinemas (image: Freepik).  Utilising social media for film promotion does not guarantee an influx of audiences to cinemas (image: Freepik). 

Despite its potential, leveraging social media for film promotion does not always translate into successful outcomes in driving audiences to cinemas. The risks of fake news and misinformation spreading rapidly on social media are significant downsides. Failure to monitor shared information or delay in addressing inaccuracies can adversely impact a film’s reputation, turning what might be a good-quality film into a poorly received one due to trivia details scrutinised by social media users. Recently, the controversy surrounding the film "Đất rừng Phương Nam" (Song of the South), has underscored this concern.  

Such challenges directly impact film revenue, resulting in substantial losses for producers and further exacerbating the disparity between domestic and Western cinema. 

At a broader level, Vietnam's film regulatory bodies should reassess their budget allocations for state-sponsored film promotion. Many high-quality historical films suffer from insufficient promotion budgets, relying mainly on traditional media channels.  

The phenomenal success of films like "Đào, phở và piano," (Peach blossoms, pho, and piano) driven by social media virality, highlights the need for revised budget allocation. State-funded films should spend more on promotion, particularly through social media channels.  

Furthermore, restrictions on screening in private cinemas hinder state-sponsored films from reaching a wider audience, particularly the youth accustomed to discovering new films through social media channels and private cinemas. Neglecting promotional channels, collaboration with KOLs, or popular movie theatres is detrimental to high quality state-sponsored films in engaging with younger audiences. 

Story by: Dr Nguyen Van Thang Long, Senior lecturer at School of Communication & Design, RMIT Vietnam 

  • Film & Video

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