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'Ghostbusters' Social Media Marketing: Did It Fail?

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'Ghostbusters' Social Media Marketing: Did It Fail?

Tara M. Clapper
'Ghostbusters' Social Media Marketing: Did It Fail?

"Ghostbusters" is one of the most talked about, controversial mass market movies released in recent years. With all the debate over the trailers, "Ghostbusters" has a prime opportunity for online engagement on social media. Are they taking advantage of it? Let's take a look at their social media marketing practices.

This is by no means a comprehensive analysis, but an insightful glance into their social media marketing.

"Ghostbusters" By the Numbers

As of the date of this publication, "Ghostbusters" has amassed a decent social media following:

  • Facebook: 3,034,716 fans 
  • Twitter: 58,000 followers
  • Instagram: 63,300 followers

"Ghostbusters" Social Media Marketing Practices: An Analysis

Moving pictures

Sony posts plenty of engaging video and gifs. Some of the longer content also has captions. Most Facebook users watch videos without sound, so this keeps their attention and informs them.

Did "Ghostbusters" provide necessary information?

"Ghostbusters" is a very controversial release at the heart of a culture war in the United States. Initially, most fans thought that the movie was a remake of the original "Ghostbusters" films: just a gender-swapped version. Even when we only saw casting information and stills, fans debated about this issue.

While I was interested in seeing the movie from the time of the casting announcements and had an optimistic view of what it could be, I was very confused about whether this was a complete remake or something new.

Fans are defensive about nostalgia from their childhood, and new movies in an old franchise can injure or capitalize on that trust. 

"Ghostbusters" didn't do too much when it came to assuring fans that this was not a full remake, rather a new movie inspired by the originals. While there still would have been some haters and debates about whether audiences want woman-first storytelling, audiences might have been generally more receptive if Sony had responded to these criticisms immediately on social media platforms.

They do make it clear that "Ghostbusters" is currently in theaters, but their pinned tweet is from July 15. It's not opening day anymore, so they should continue changing it up. 

Join the team with content partnerships

Content partnerships can be especially valuable to marketers as they allow you to expose your brand to a wider (but related) audience. 

I question the hashtag (am I talking about boys or stalking them?) but the content partnership is genius and likely aimed at a much younger audience of women who understand the hashtag. This engages fans of Spotify, the band 5 Seconds of Summer and "Ghostbusters" to consume each others' content and advertising.

"Ghostbusters" also captured the attention of millennials over on Snapchat.

They ain't afraid of no posts: Response to criticism

While they weren't clear about the content of the film, Sony did post some critics' and bloggers' responses to criticism on social media – empowered by some images and clips implying that the Ghostbusters team are rebellious by nature. 

This likely improved their image with their target audiences, but they really waited until the movie was released before promoting it in this specific capacity.

With IP like "Ghostbusters," the brand needs to take a stand from the beginning. What's the voice? Is the brand pushing the movie as a feminist achievement or not?

They could take a lesson from Marvel. Whenever Marvel re-envisions a character (Thor is a woman; the next Iron Man is a black girl), the brand and its social media team personally and professionally anticipate the criticism and defend it – even at risk of alienating long-term fans.

"Ghostbusters" is a bold move: but the studio and the production team need to stand by it more firmly on social media and during in-person events. They put the burden on the actors, director and writers instead. 

Aligned with audience

Though it took a while to get there, "Ghostbusters" is aligned with its audience. After "Ghostbusters" star Leslie Jones quit Twitter after receiving racist tweets, the brand posted in support of her:

"Ghostbusters" Openly Supports Leslie Jones on Social Media "Ghostbusters" Openly Supports Leslie Jones on Social Media

While this kind of support shows they're fully engaged, it might have been better if they'd created the #LoveForLeslieJ hashtag in the first place. Evidence indicates the studio may wish to appear more mainstream while also reaching out to more opinionated members of its fan base.

Lead thoughts and set trends – but if you can't, you should at least align your brand with them as "Ghostbusters" did.

"Ghostbusters" and #LoveForLeslieJ: The editorial and social media marketing lesson

I wonder how much approval the social media manager had to jump through before the studio agreed that it was permissible to post this. As I work on shaping the editorial strategy here at SEMrush, I keep examples like this in mind: too much oversight can create a bottleneck in immediate situations. While planning tweets and other content is ideal, it can't always happen, especially when breaking news is concerned.

Mixed Marketing Messages: Edgy...or Nah? Mixed Marketing Messages: Edgy...or Nah?

Repeated messages

I follow "Ghostbusters" on Facebook and Twitter, the two social media networks I'm on the most. Even though my feeds are pretty busy, I noticed that the "Ghostbusters" posts on these accounts are the same. This is an even more consequential mistake for "Ghostbusters," which has garnered a bunch of fan hate for being a remake when its story is original.

Ghostbuster Social Posts

"Ghostbusters" social media messages need to convey its originality, not only by highlighting the new characters as they do, but also by posting on different social media networks according to the people present on those networks.

Even the header images and avatars are identical on both networks. You want to be consistent with branding but provide consumers with reasons to follow you on multiple platforms.

Failure to make contact with the other side

Engagement is essential on social media. While it might be challenging for big brands to respond to every comment, some interaction is useful and shows that the people representing the brand are listening.

It's not clear whether the page is moderated. Some people spew hate, others accuse the page of deleting things and some express enthusiasm for the film.

Ghostbusters Supports Leslie Ghostbusters Supports Leslie

Whether you loved or hated the movie, the "Ghostbusters" team managed to grab the attention of audiences on social media, stirring loads of controversy and discussion with the trailers in advance of the film's release. It seems clear that they could have done more, though.

What do you think about "Ghostbusters" on social media? What would you have done differently? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Tara M. Clapper

A veteran community member.

Tara M. Clapper is Content Development Specialist at Express Writers and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture. Tara is a prolific content creator and an accomplished editor, having written and edited thousands of blog posts, small business websites, and other inbound marketing content through the course of her career. Tara enjoys blogging about SEO copywriting, content management, corporate culture, personal branding, networking and LinkedIn. She has over a decade of experience in digital publishing. Connect with her on Twitter @irishtara
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Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

They need to take another look at their target market. I haven't seen a single social media promo for Ghostbusters, and I'm a female who grew up in the 80s. I'm a huge fan of Leslie and Melissa! So why was I excluded?
Tara M. Clapper

A veteran community member.

Perhaps they weren't on top of their paid ads on social. I fit the same demographic but most of what I saw about the movie was people arguing back and forth about whether it was awful after only seeing promotional stills, and then the full-blown culture war surrounding it.

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