The Merging of Social Media and the Entertainment Industry

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In the past years, social media has evolved and is continuously taking over every industry. Because of the variety of content trending on these platforms, professionals have to adapt to using mostly visual content in order to communicate with their audience. Entertainment jobs have skyrocketed ever since new and improved entertainment branches have emerged, and this is only the beginning.

Today, almost every career is now linked to the entertainment industry, as they have to use visuals as their main channel of communication. This has resulted in social media taking over the entertainment industry, ultimately becoming one of the most employed jobs.

Why is Social Media Becoming the Number One Source of Entertainment?

Most consumers can agree that social media networks provide a different, and ultimately higher value experience compared to other forms of entertainment. It’s engaging, fast-paced, straightforward, and of course, incredibly enjoyable and addictive.

With the birth and evolution of social media platforms, the Internet as a whole has become the second-best source of entertainment after television, which is also slowly going out of style. Not only does the Internet offer a never-ending source of entertainment through its search engines and social media platforms, but with streaming becoming the new norm for watching movies and television shows, the TV will soon become obsolete and outdated.

Slowly but surely, social networking has made its way to being a recognized part of the entertainment industry, due to its contribution in adding value to the consumer experience of entertainment.

This change is more significant than most people acknowledge. Not even two decades ago the Internet was solely a source of information and direct communication. In a matter of years, this relatively small leap in technology has grown to become the most influential part of our lives. It’s inspired almost all technological innovations happening today and has grown to become a huge part of entertainment.

For people who have lived through this major change – from the birth of the mobile phone through the introduction of Facebook, and what we currently see in the present – the fact that the Internet has become the runner-up source of entertainment is astounding. And the changes that seemed incredibly rapid in the past decade are about to evolve quicker than ever.

Social Media’s Impact on the Entertainment Industry

Before the introduction of social media, the entertainment industry was very different. Firstly, all sources of entertainment were usually owned by an entity that overlooked all content, and people had little to no influence over this content. Either you turned on the TV, or you didn’t. This is one of the most spectacular changes that happened to the industry due to social media.

To researchers, the impact of social media on the entertainment industry is a phenomenal marvel. The people are given a voice, and a big part of the tasks PR professionals have become acknowledging and reacting to these comments. This gives the audience freedom and the feeling of inclusion and changes marketing and PR drastically.

Apart from giving the audience a voice in matters of the entertainment industry, this is also creating higher accountability from brands using these entertainment platforms. Considering these factors, the merging of entertainment and social media is hard to master and navigate through.

For example, worrying about the thoughts of an audience wasn’t causing a serious headache for entertainment branches 10-20 years ago. As said before, you either turned your TV on, or you didn’t. And if you had a negative opinion, you talked about it with a friend and hoped that the movie critic would share these opinions and write an exposé in the papers.

This allowed entertaining branches to disassociate from the audience, and they didn’t have to fear their critiques. Today, brands can not allow themselves to ignore a customer or treat them badly. Word spreads like a forest fire, and chances are, a brand like this will end up losing customers and even its reputation.

The merging of social media into entertainment fields has made it possible for social media to destroy businesses and even influence blockbuster movie productions. And while the power of the public is a great thing, entertainment services have to change strategies and learn how to handle the influence of social media.

It’s one thing that the audience has a public opinion now, but what exactly can people achieve exactly? And more importantly, what does this mean for businesses and companies everywhere?

Demanding Solidarity

One of the best ways people can become proactive and engage in the entertainment industry is through influencing solidarity and celebrating diversity. There are a lot of examples of audiences abusing this power and generating superficial backlashes. Others, however, fight for the greater good and use the platforms “correctly”.

For a long time, Hollywood has built a reputation of whitewashing Asian, Arab, Latin, and other characters. For example, in the 2014 film Exodus: Gods and Kings – a story about Moses rising up against Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II – a lot of Egyptian characters were portrayed by Australian and British actors including Sigourney Weaver as the wife of the Pharaoh.

The casting of the blockbuster has resulted in major backlash, as people were not pleased with Egyptian characters being portrayed by Caucasian actors and actresses, as it isn’t a true demonstration of the time and place of the story. Unfortunately, this did not receive much attention, and the case became outdated and forgotten over the years.

More recently, in 2017, British actor Ed Skrein was cast to play an Asian character in Hellboy, which caused fans to turn to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction with the choice. Ultimately the actor backed down, as he too agreed with the claims, and Daniel Dae Kim was cast in the role.

A similar reaction was provoked when Scarlett Johanson was cast in a Japanese role in Ghost in the Shell back in 2017. Unfortunately, this again did not receive much explanation, and the director continued filming with the original cast intact.

While a lot of these public opinions go unanswered, audiences have big power and can reach the attention of huge public figures, changing their minds about major things, like the animation of Sonic for example, or the Oscar nomination of the Korean movie Parasite.

The makers of the movie apparently had to turn to social media, because the lack of A-list celebrities, unfortunately, made it hard to reach the public instantaneously. Ultimately they won Best Picture.

A similar strategy was used by the creators of the sudden Netflix hit, Squid Game. They utilized social media trends and trusted word-of-mouth to do the rest, and voilá, a Korean series filled with local and amateur actors has been engulfed by the limelight instantly.

The Evolution and Role of Streaming Services

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Streaming services have embraced the nature of social media, and use it the best way possible. Their marketing strategies include using the most recent trends, and constant presence on all major platforms. Additionally, they’re no stranger to engaging with the public when need be.

As a result, people are opting towards staying at home and catching up on new shows on Netflix rather than going to the cinema for anything other than a blockbuster. This has become a problem for the industry, not to mention the lockdowns due to the worldwide pandemic, which became a strong catalyst for this change as well.

Habits and preferences have changed, and the appeal of the cinema is not as strong as it once was. Another problem for the industry is Netflix’s impact on the public.

As mentioned before, streaming services – especially Netflix – have perfected the use of social media for cheap, and effective marketing strategies. These strategies focus on creating value and buzz around new Netflix productions, and this has resulted in Netflix movies being nominated for awards in the last couple of years.

This wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that this has resulted in streaming services monopolizing the entertainment industry’s largest branch: movie production. At the end of the day, this is a blessing in disguise, as Netflix is paving the way to new and improved marketing strategies that prove to work.

Through trial and error, ups and downs, streaming services have proven that authentic and direct communication is the way to go, and formal communication is outdated. The public craves transparency and honesty, which streaming services seemingly provide.

Also, they spend time researching their audience, and what they like. They follow trends and use each platform correctly. Finally, they prioritize user-generated content which has become one of the strongest marketing strategies today.

Social Media Campaigns & Promotions

Social media has changed the face of marketing, and brands have to roll with the punches if they want to stay afloat. To understand how it has changed, first people need to understand how consumer behavior has changed. Then, marketing strategies adapt to that behavior and take advantage of the audience’s wants and needs. In the entertainment industry, it looks something like this:

  • The producers remind the audience that a teaser trailer is going to air in the near future. This is a small reminder but creates just enough buzz to start spreading hashtags and posts.
  • The release of the teaser trailer results in the amplification of user-generated content, as the previously established trends and hashtags come to life and start taking over all social media platforms.
  • After this round of user-generated buzz and already established trends, it’s obvious that the producers have caught the attention of the target audience, and they want more. This is when the main trailer and different variations of it come out. Next to the trends and hashtags, now a discussion begins about the movie.

Speaking in general terms, this strategy can be used for any brand and proves to work every time. It consists of three waves. The first one targets the brand’s already established audience and generates curiosity.

The second wave encourages user-generated content by sharing more information, and the third wave closes the deal by generating and encouraging further debate. The last wave is the one that truly shares all information with the public, but before this happens, there’s a wave of mystery and preparation. But the depth and size of the ultimate discussions rely on the strength of the foundation laid down by the first and second waves.

Conclusion

The entertainment industry has gone through major changes, and these hits keep coming. And while the introduction of streaming services has been one of the biggest changes, the most major one is undoubtedly the impact of social media.

As social media and all branches of entertainment merge together, the line between audience and producer begins to blur. We must reestablish this difference between brand and consumer, and factoring in the effects one has on the other, utilize these changes for a better, improved business strategy.

Ultimately, in some form, entertainment lurks in every sort of company, business, and brand, therefore, the changes the industry goes through will affect everybody, and people must discuss the consequences, and utilize what they can. And as consumers of products and all forms of media, audiences must stay alert and conscious, as your word matters more than you realize, and due to these changes, the gravity of just one opinion can result in the birth of something huge