Upali Dasgupta, marketing director APAC at Meltwater, reflects on whether social hype can drive true campaign success on its own. That’s right, folks, we’re still talking Barbie and Oppenheimer.
Barbie has been a spectacular success, making history as the first billion-dollar box office hit for a female director. Warner Bros has dubbed it “Barbillion”, with the ticket sales potentially set to be eclipsed by the revenue from merchandise collaborations with more than 100 brands. From clothing and beauty products to food and kitchen appliances, Barbiecore is the hottest trend of 2023.
The resulting social hype has been immense with millions of mentions across leading social channels. But was this hype a result of clever marketing strategy, or did the social hype drive the success of its campaign?
According to data analysis by Meltwater, Barbie received more than 10 times the social mentions of Oppenheimer (1.57M vs 123,000) in the 10-27 July period, when both movies opened – with Twitter alone generating 1.32M mentions, and TikTok taking the lead as the most engaged platform for Barbie, with 40 million engagements.
Overall, there have been nearly 7 million social media posts about Barbie this year, reaching a potential audience of nearly 9.5 billion people and garnering more than 277 million engagement actions – not surprisingly as Margot Robbie stole the show with mentions in more than 410,000 posts, eclipsing co-star Ryan Gosling (248,000 posts) and director Greta Gerwig (189,000 posts).
So why did Barbie connect more on social than Oppenheimer, and what has truly driven its success behind the scenes?
The social hype buzz
This level of social hype creates a virtuous circle for a movie, where the campaign and the response work symbiotically, continually fuelling one another. It’s a strategy that Warner Bros aimed at from the start after first experiencing an “electric moment” with the first image of Barbie revealed in 2022.
Social media therefore became all important as a critical component of Barbie’s marketing strategy. Goldstine describes it as a “breadcrumb strategy” where people were drip-fed small elements of the movie to stimulate interest and conversation.
Campaigns are no longer something you run and wait to find out the results. Marketing is dynamic and it evolves in real-time as new conversations arise.The success of Barbie demonstrates just how influential the social aspect can be, with its limitless reach and potential to go viral.
Most of all though, marketing needs to be insights-driven.
Getting insights from social
Integrating social media listening is all the more critical as marketing moves towards a cookie-less future, with much tighter data and privacy regulation. While not every campaign will generate a stratospheric, Barbie-level buzz, most marketing usually sparks some social media response. This is key to reaching the right audience, engaging consumers in a conversation, and providing a personalised experience.
The fragmentation of social media and the huge volume of real-time, evolving streams of information makes tracking key social insights challenging. Many platforms have undergone immense change in recent years and audiences are moving around all the time. Twitter has recently been reborn as X, LinkedIn has just made major algorithm changes, and TikTok is facing increasing competition from Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. There’s a slew of new apps and platforms, such as BeReal, Honey, Clubhouse and Honey8. They won’t all be the “next Facebook” but some will gain significant traction.
Keeping across all these platforms and identifying where to focus your budget and uncover valuable insights on your audience can seem near impossible. Social data also includes different media forms, from text to images and video, as well as hundreds of different languages. For a film like Barbie, which has been released worldwide, only monitoring the Anglosphere isn’t sufficient. The same applies to global brands whose target markets are highly linguistically, culturally and geographically diverse – as well as diverse in their “online geography”.
The balance of power has shifted in modern marketing, with consumers using online spaces to share their own version of your brand story. As a brand, you need to therefore be on the front foot and insight-driven marketing lets you take back control.
Marketers need to tap into comprehensive solutions that can deliver insights across new and existing channels, keeping track of innovations and new entrants, and use sophisticated AI integrations that can quickly sift through billions of real-time data to discover and analyse key trends and customer insights.
Social data and AI truly play a critical role in driving the success behind each campaign to effectively reach and engage your audience,and create hype. Whether it’s the now iconic, blockbuster Barbie movie or any other brand.