Movie Buzz More Likely to Spread by Word-of-Mouth Than Social Networks

And good news for marketers from Ipsos MediaCT's Vincent Bruzzese: Those who take to Twitter primarily post to boost a movie they're excited about — not to warn people about a turkey

In an increasingly interconnected world, people still favor good old fashioned word-of-mouth to Twitter and Facebook to share their thoughts about upcoming movies, according to a new study on social media buzz by Ipsos MediaCT's Motion Picture Group.

Surprisingly, those who do use the internet to vent or rave about movies tend to be those over 25 years old, not the younger set who grew up with an iPad or iPhone in their mitts.

Jonathan Alcorn

To come up with its numbers, the research company surveyed 1,200 people nationwide between the ages of 13 to 49. Those surveyed were evenly divided by men and women. Of those, only 12 percent prefer communicating with family online, while 24 percent prefer interacting with friends that way.

"We are living in a digital world, but it's not as digital as we think," Vincent Bruzzese, president of Ipsos' worldwide motion picture group, told the audience at TheGrill conference at the London West Hollywood presented by TheWrap. 

"It's not like the quality of movies has changed much," he added. "Bad movies drop [in box office] on their second weekend, but good movies don't stay around any longer than they did in '80s. In fact they drop faster than when the way to s

pread mouth was the old fashioned face-to-face."

Moreover, even in an age where microblogging and Facebook "liking" are the rage, people are more likely to read or reply to comments online than they are to post something themselves or to share content or links with others. Some 75 percent of people read  through posts at least a few times a week, 61 percent reply to comments and 58 percent comment on someone else’s posts.  

"Most people don't post if they don't feel strongly," Bruzzese told the audience at TheGrill.

Less than half post something online about themselves, while 25 percent post about news or politics.

When it comes to buzz, there are three varieties, Bruzzese said. The first is dubbed "discovery" and centers on people who want to know about upcoming movies as early as possible and rarely change their opinion.

The second is christened "commentary" and encompasses all of the talk leading up to a release and the people it influences; the third is called "planning" and involves those people who only buy tickets if other people they know are going to catch a film.

The good news for worried movie marketers determined to stifle bad buzz is that those who take to Twitter or Facebook primarily are motivated to post about a movie they're excited to see or enjoy — not to warn people about an impending turkey. Eighty-five percent of people post when they are excited about something.

Story continues below the chart

But lots of online chatter is not the major thing influencing ticket-buying. The team at Ipsos found that 71 percent of people were most likely to catch a flick if they had  someone to go with, while 69 percent were prompted to hit the cinema after having someone recommend a movie. 

Least influential were the amount of posts about a movie, which motivated 39 percent of people, and the number of positive comments online, which motivated 37 percent.

"Only a small percent, 10 percent, post when they really don't like something," he said at TheGrill.

When it comes to movie buzz, it's little surprise that those driving the conversation tend to be habitual moviegoers, which Ipsos defines as people who see more than six movies a year. Moviegoers tend to watch trailers for movies (43 percent compared to 35 percent of non-moviegoers) and the post about content (37 percent compared to  31 percent) several times a week or more.

Moving beyond buzz building and into content consumption, the study found that people are still watching shows and movies on their televisions than they are relying on mobile devices. Fifty eight percent of people said they are likely to watch programs on televisions and 38 percent were likely to use a computer.

Only 18 percent were likely to use a smartphone, while 11 percent were likely to use a tablet.

Alexander C. Kaufman contributed to this report.