The Hunger Games, a dystopic teen action film adapted from the novel by Suzanne Collins, grossed $155 million over the weekend making it the third highest domestic film opening.  The film’s remarkable success opening weekend was due in no small part to the novel’s bestselling status, but also to the marketers who mastered what New York Times reporter Brooks Barnes calls the “marketer’s ultimate trick: persuading fans to persuade each other.” Enter one of the most effective ways to creatively generate word of mouth among fans: social media.

 

IGNITING THE FLAME: Steadily building online buzz

Back in June 2011, Lionsgate teamed up with thismoment.com, a startup social media management site, to launch a yearlong digital campaign for The Hunger Games. The campaign utilizes multiple platforms to reach its younger audience and encourage them to generate their own content to promote the film. The campaign has kept its messaging concise and focused by centering it on the 12 Districts and the Captiol, integral to the film’s plot.

  • Twitter:  Fans had the chance to win tickets to the film by retweeting @TheCapitolPN, see behind the scenes photos, R.S.V.P. to a Yahoo! live streaming of the premiere event and share their outfits for the premiere with the hashtag #LookYourBest, which prompted thousands of fans to tweet their Hunger Games-inspired looks.
  • Facebook: Over 800,000 fans so far have become virtual citizens of Panem, the fictional country in the novel, by visiting the Capitol Network, The Hunger Games main Facebook page, and registering their District pass, or digital ID card, that makes them a part of a district. From there, fans are assigned an occupation and prompted to join their specific District’s Facebook page.
  • YouTube: Fictional Capitol TV Productions released YouTube videos  periodically and encouraged fans to submit their own videos about their love for the story.
  • Tumblr: Fans who want to learn how to dress like they’re from the Capitol can visit the fashion magazine-inspired Capitol Couture Tumblr page and read stories on fashion trends and culture in the Capitol.

 FUELING THE FIRE: Maintaining the conversation

After visiting The Hunger Games Facebook page, which now has over 3.5 million “likes”, the  tremendous fan interaction is evident- even after the film release- with each post featuring film quotes and photos and garnering thousands of comments and “likes.” @TheCapitolPN is retweeting fans’ reactions to the film and posting videos from The Hunger Games actors thanking their fans for making the film such a huge success, and encouraging fans to sign up for its official Facebook game, coming soon.

With three more films to go, the world is watching to see the lengths to which The Hunger Games marketers will take this campaign that has generated so much buzz. What do you think about The Hunger Games use of social media? Will it continue capturing its fans to circulate its message, or is the campaign’s fiery flame destined to burn out before the DVD release?