New films, shows seek to build promotional volume with social media snippets

  • Short clips or snippets, usually lasting between five and 10 minutes, are circulated on social media channels like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, giving away major dialogues, scenes and songs of the title to get the viewers hooked.

Lata Jha
First Published14 Apr 2024
Many industry experts say this is one way to build volume and generate buzz around the film or show through means other than just the trailer and traditional marketing techniques.
Many industry experts say this is one way to build volume and generate buzz around the film or show through means other than just the trailer and traditional marketing techniques.(Bloomberg)

Film producers and streaming platforms are adopting a new strategy to lure viewers to watch their titles at a time attention span has shrunk amid a surfeit of entertainment options.

They are increasingly releasing short clips or snippets, usually lasting between five and 10 minutes, on social media channels like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, giving away major dialogues, scenes and songs of the titles to get the viewers hooked. 

From introducing pivotal characters to revealing major story arcs, these are circulated across channels on both the studio or platform’s own accounts as well as via collaborations with content creators and entertainment portals.

While some industry experts say this is one way to build volume and generate buzz around a film or a show through means other than just the trailer and traditional marketing techniques, others say the strategy can backfire with significant chunks of the film or the show available on social media for free, diluting the need to sign up and pay to watch it either in theatres or on an OTT platform.

Illegal leakages from the film or show via pirated means can add to the crisis.

“Attention span of audiences on the internet is low and it takes a lot more to get someone hooked to your content, than it did before. Especially for platforms or producers that do not boast of huge budgets, more clips increase the chances of the content going viral organically, since merit is no longer the only criterion for content to catch on to viewers’ algorithms,” said Girish Dwibhashyam, vice-president, strategy and business head at DocuBay, a documentary-streaming platform.

Dwibhashyam conceded that releasing multiple clips does take away a part of the story’s reveal, but was quick to add that the bigger priority is to get noticed.

Social media is replete with clips from movies and shows, often without spoiler warnings, Avinash Mudaliar, CEO, OTTPlay, the recommendation and content discovery platform for streaming services launched by HT Media Labs (part of the same organization as Mint) said.

These can be of three kinds: promotional videos including trailers of movies and shows, celebrity interviews and songs posted by the production house or OTT platforms where content is often scripted and reviewed and thus, rarely divulge the plot or storyline of the movie. 

Then there is influencer-led content including clips on social media in reaction to popular or newly-released movies and shows, which do contain snippets of storylines (or more), but the majority are accompanied by spoiler warnings, he said.

But there are also illicit or bootlegged clips that are often recorded in theatres via mobile phones or other devices, distributed online via social media and websites where people can quickly download content, often revealing entire storylines, including plot twists and endings. 

“Of these, the first category alone is controllable. Influencer-led content, while controllable to some extent, is not in collaboration with the production company,” Mudaliar added. "While most influencers are careful enough to include spoiler warnings, or restrict divulgence of the storyline, leaks around certain plot lines do happen. In most cases, this ends positively, contributing to the promotional buzz and piquing interest."

However, the last category, of pirated content, is completely uncontrollable, and highly detrimental to paid viewing options, impacting both production companies and OTT platforms.

Rajat Agrawal, director and content syndication head, Ultra Media & Entertainment Group, said in case of old films, releasing snippets on social media channels can be a conscious decision or even a marketing strategy to lure the viewer to watch the complete film on the OTT platform or YouTube channel where the title is being streamed. 

“Though, if the film is newly released and is running in theatres, clips secretly shot in cinemas and uploaded to these platforms have the potential of giving away some important scenes and (part of the) narrative,” Agrawal said.

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