Finding Watchmen: Why social media matters in film marketing

Like many moviegoers, I’m eagerly awaiting the film version of the classic Alan Moore Watchmen comics, opening Friday. Although I’ve been getting most of my information about the movie through friends, and most recently an article in Wired, I wondered where people are going online to learn more about this highly-anticipated fill.

I analyzed where people who used terms including the keyword "˜watchmen’ on major search engines were directed over the last 10 weeks. The chart below shows the top 10 sites that these people were referred to by keyword share and the percentage of all traffic generated by searches including the keyword "˜watchmen’ that went to a particular site.

Even though the studio site was the #1 destination for these searchers, and official movie sites figured prominently into the top 10, much of the search traffic for this film was referred to social media sites.

  • The official studio site was the #1 destination for searchers in this period: about 18.5% of people who searched for "watchmen" keyword were directed there. In fact, "˜watchmen’ was the 4th most popular keyword for in general, generating almost 3% of the domain’s total search referrals over this same period.
  • Wikipedia, at 18.4% of keyword referrals, was a close second in terms of most referrals, ranking above dedicated movie site IMDb.
  • Social media sites took up three of the top 10 spots:
    • YouTube ranked fourth. Although the Watchmen-related videos were posted by individuals, one member did say the studio had given him permission to use official copies.
    • Blogspot was #9 by keyword referral, and MySpace rounded out the top 10.

In the next few weeks it’s likely that the flow of traffic to Watchmen-related destinations will change as people considering going to see the movie search for reviews. Visits to other review and social media sites — like Rotten Tomatoes (#11), Facebook (#12) and Twitter (#21) — will likely increase. Still, the fact that so much of this initial search traffic is going to social media sites before the release date suggests that the channel is an important information source for audiences even weeks before they buy a ticket.

So movie marketers take note: social media matters even before the movie is released. And, it’s making Watchmen look pretty cool.

See you at the movies.