2020 was either an exceptional or devastating year for those working in entertainment.Live acts, theatres, venues, and musicians were essentially left to fend for themselves – and the result wasn’t pretty.Streaming services and digital entertainment media, on the other hand, were able to capitalise on a quite literally captive audience.But moving into 2021, audiences aren’t guaranteed – even for streaming services.Every network or production house is launching its own paid service these days and laying claim to its content territory in the process. That’s exactly what happened in January when Netflix lost The Office (U.S.) for American audiences because NBC debuted Peacock: the network’s flagship streaming service.At the time of writing this, it’s too early to tell whether losing The Office will result in a mass exodus of American viewers from Netflix.However, we should also remember that this Netflix loss isn’t the first – or last – event of its kind.Competition is still very much rising – and not just among streaming services but all forms of digital media.It’s critical to develop a highly targeted and engaging social media strategy if entertainment brands want to succeed in 2021. Here’s how to do it.
If you take nothing else away from this article, take this: personalisation.Social media platforms give you limitless tools for reaching specific audiences with the exact type of content that resonates with them.Now, whether you use these tools tactfully and create interesting content is totally on you – but these tips on social media for entertainment brands in 2021 can help get you there.
Before you do anything, you must understand your entertainment brand’s audience. I recommend starting with data you already have on your market segments so you can expand on social media.Create personas for each of your distinct market segments. Include stuff like:
Your first goal with this step is to figure out which social media platforms to use.For older audiences, you’ll want to focus on Facebook. For Millennials and younger, try TikTok and Instagram. Then you also have YouTube which is a must for entertainment brands on social media no matter what groups you’re targeting.
We’ll dive a little deeper into the content itself a few points below but first, think about your formats.Video is the obvious choice – but what kinds of video? Slow-motion snippets? Behind the scenes? Interviews? How long?Don’t limit yourself to video either. That’s one of the biggest mistakes entertainment brands can make on social media.Grab still images from cinematography and production. Share swiping before/after makeup photos on Instagram.Even with the visual nature of social media, written content like blogs and interviews with third-party sites are still important for building hype and credibility.
Aside from maybe three movies and TV shows that appeal to mass audiences (think Stranger Things), entertainment is deeply personal. No, really!Think about it. We consume media we can relate to and identify with or media that draws emotions out of us.You need people on your social media team who belong to the demographics you’re targeting for each piece of entertainment.Look at it this way: there’s an entire subreddit dedicated to making fun of men who write about women – and get women totally wrong.
No one wants to be *that* guy – literally.That’s why you need people developing your content and social media copy who belong to your media’s target demographic. Otherwise, the risk always exists.Plus, social media for your entertainment brand will just be more relevant and effective when the people creating it know what they’d like for themselves.
Did you know that when you see a YouTube ad for a new Netflix original, it’s hand-chosen just for you?If you remember, the entire House of Cards series was developed based on what big data and an algorithm said to do – right down to who to cast and what ads to show which people. (Although even the best algorithms can’t predict sexual assault allegations yet.)You didn’t think the personalised ads stopped though, did you?Netflix found itself in hot water again in 2018 for showing Black audiences ads depicting Black actors in the posters and videos:
Now, the race personalisation here is just cringe. But personalising for sense of humour or preferred plotline? Now that works – and you wouldn’t even realise it.For example, you create an ad highlighting the best scenes from a movie’s comic relief actor and show it to people who love comedy. Alternatively, someone who likes rom-coms might see your ad for the same movie depicting the romantic subplot.See how subtle (and not racist) personalisation can be?
Stories are perfect for promoting trailers and entertainment content because they always display full screen. Your followers can get the full effect of whatever you’re promoting, along with some extra stickers for engagement if that’s your thing.Now, I say mini-trailers because Instagram will break up any video longer than 15 seconds into 15-second increments. One minute is your max for each Story but you can always upload multiple Stories. Just keep in mind that viewers don’t really expect five-minute Stories, so short is key regardless.Choose specific pieces of your media you think will appeal to niche audiences. Promote one every day and rotate through them during your campaign.The Prime Video page has a set of Story highlights dedicated to mini-trailers and snippets of content promoting their current original stuff:
Instagram Reels are a really cool feature for compressing BTS production footage down into bite-sized snippets.Good news for you: Most entertainment houses are just repurposing their Stories into Reels. In other words, you can stand out from the crowd just by creating original BTS content.Netflix is a Joke (the Netflix comedy Instagram page) did have one Reel using BTS footage to build hype for Cobra Kai and the cast appearance on Afterparty with Bill Burr:
We already talked a bit above about the importance of creating content marketing in different formats like written blogs, videos, and graphics. Now let’s get into some examples of creating content for different audiences on different platforms.First, you want to consider the mindset and expectations of your audience on each platform.What do I mean? Well, let’s look at videos, for example.There’s a reason Facebook has a specific metric dedicated to three-second views on each video – if you can break a ten-second watch time, that’s considered good. 15 seconds? Now that’s spectacular for Facebook video.With YouTube, on the other hand, people are more likely to stick around and watch your whole video even if it’s three to five minutes long – or much more if you made some killer content.Using this info, you might keep the 30-second subtitled action-packed trailers for Facebook and in-depth cast interviews and ten-minute trailers for YouTube.What about non-video content?The smartest marketing teams are out there publishing relevant content anywhere a platform will let them upload and optimise.Take Spotify for example.The team working on Stranger Things has uploaded tons of content to Spotify: soundtrack compilations, scores, clips from the show, and more:
There’s also a great playlist/soundtrack for Jonah Hill’s film, Mid90s with music and interviews about the production:
We all know that entertainment productions are a group effort from countless companies and organisations.Even a single indie movie usually involves at least two production houses to start along with equipment, makeup, wardrobe, set design, effects, editing, local chambers of commerce – I could go on.Pick any one of the items off that list and you’ve got yourself a social media campaign.Chamber of commerce? Promote local businesses, landmarks, and landscapes where you filmed.Makeup? Share the products used and the artist’s work.Effects? Make an Instagram Reel to show before and after special effects application.The goal is to drive traffic to your partner’s page via the content and a tag while asking them to do the same for your finished product.Adult Swim follows their production companies and other related content like Cracked on YouTube:
YouTube is where it’s at for entertainment brands on social media in 2021. Like Instagram, YouTube is constantly releasing fresh features to monetise and promote your awesome content.Adult Swim totally gets it (and their Millennial audience). They don’t let a single opportunity go to waste on YouTube.
Adult Swim puts their community section to use squeezing engagement for their latest projects too:
What about individual shows though? They’ve got it covered. Adult Swim has dedicated channels set up for each show where you can buy full seasons or individual episodes directly through YouTube:
Just think about all the possibilities for these features with live entertainment, stand-up, theatre, and more.Of course, these features are all on top of the usual YouTube SEO tools for boosting your organic audience on the app with keyword-rich titles and descriptions.
Here’s why I love IGTV. First of all, you can upload long-form videos here. Well, at least long-form as far as social media standards go: up to 60 minutes for verified business accounts.Of course, you don’t need to upload hour-long videos, but the offer stands.Second, IGTV’s format makes it easy to repurpose content onto YouTube. I don’t recommend doing this with every piece because IGTV is vertical while YouTube is landscape, but the length helps.It’s also popular for production companies to repurpose their Instagram Stories as IGTV. Instead of forcing people to dig through Story highlights, they can just scroll for something that catches their eye on IGTV.If I were you, I’d dig into IGTV for what it’s worth by creating miniseries. Comedy Central knows what’s up – IGTV is perfect for stand-up clips and even full specials.
Marketers are constantly driving home the idea that you cannot create or share generic content. If your content is safe enough to please everyone, it will interest no one. That’s a fact.Well, if you’re like most entertainment brands on social media, you don’t specialise in one single genre. Comedy, drama, TV, film, documentaries, stand-up – each of these genres targets extremely specific audiences.For that matter, each genre targets a wide range of audience segments. You can’t ask someone if they like stand-up to judge their sense of humour, right? Of course not – you have to ask them which comedians they like.The only way to build engaged audiences while giving each piece of media the attention it deserves is through dedicated pages.That’s exactly why Netflix has individual Instagram pages for:
What to Watch Next is especially interesting because it’s super interactive:
A big portion of hype-building for entertainment brands on social media should absolutely come from cast members and the artists themselves.Controlled leaks are perfect for high-profile accounts too because you know it will get the attention it deserves.As for bringing cast members and artists into the content on your brand’s page, stick with lo-fi content and skip stuff with high production value. People are sick of the overly perfect reality on Instagram and social media. They want to see more real content.That’s exactly what Hulu does for their Letterkenny Story highlights:
If you’re working on a highly anticipated project or something with well-known cast members, an AMA (ask me anything) is awesome for engaging your audience directly.Reddit is usually the go-to platform for AMAs but Instagram’s Story features are giving Reddit a run for its money. Q&A stickers make it easy to get a little more visual than Reddit.The Netflix is a Joke page put a Story highlight together for Jenny Slate’s AMA:
What better way to build hype for your entertainment brand than getting your audience involved in the action themselves?When it comes to user-generated content on social media, entertainment brands really luck out here: You already have plenty of themes by virtue of your media.Does your content take place during a certain era? Is there a signature music style? Is there a subplot that really stands out?Pick one aspect, choose a relevant branded hashtag, and promote it. Instagram works pretty well for user-generated content because it’s such a visual platform.The team working on Wonder Woman 1984 launched a costume contest – around Halloween no less – to build excitement for the upcoming release.
Stuff like this is especially important with most releases happening 100% virtually.
What’s the keyword in social media? That’s right. Social!People follow movies, producers, cast members, and streaming services on social media because they want to form better connections than they can elsewhere. They want some personality.First, consider uplifting individuals at your company – whether they’re in sound, camera, lighting, FX, makeup, writing, or whatever. Have employees create personal accounts for work on places like Instagram and TikTok where they can share BTS shot about life on the job.Set up a protocol and strategy for sharing BTS content on employee profiles so you can keep up consistency while controlling leaks.Who knows, maybe one of your sound employees “accidentally” shares a shot from a sequel you’re working on that hasn’t been announced yet. That’d be great for generating hype right?
If you’re looking for zoomers, you might not find them on Instagram or TikTok depending on their personality. Instead, lots of Gen Zs have migrated to dark platforms – think WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal.Don’t stress. WhatsApp and especially Telegram offer tons of incredible features for businesses to build their presence. With Telegram’s bots, you could develop a feed integrated with info from IMDB, YouTube, games, and more. You can also develop custom bots for showtimes, paid downloads, and just about anything else you can imagine.
Best of all, Telegram isn’t a stickler for size and allows sending files up to 2 gigs.
Look, you can’t force people to consume your entertainment content. Not only that, but unlike brands selling products or services, you can’t even really establish a genuine need for your product.Your two options are:
Ideally, you want to do both. Because the right people will feel they “need” your product if it’s promoted in the right light.
I've got experience with brands, both in agency and in-house. I specialize in researching brands, audiences, industries, cultural trends, competitors' positioning, and finding insights.
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