Why Movie Studios Should Check out Check-in Networks

Hollywood Could Start Rewarding Consumers for Their Movie Watching

By Published on .

Chris Thilk
Chris Thilk
Everyone reading this has, no doubt, already gotten up to date on the launch of Facebook Places, the social network's entry in to the location check-in game. If they're smart they've also put some thought into how this new functionality is going to affect them. And if they're lucky they have someone internally who has been able to filter the details from the announcement as well as the subsequent news stories and put it in to perspective for their particular business (like I did at my agency).

While Facebook and the marketers that depend on it are working on refining their location-based strategy, Hollywood needs to pay attention to another form of check-in service, one that's not interested in where you are as much as in what you are doing.

Networks such as Miso, Philo and GetGlue are built around the idea of checking in to entertainment. Miso and Philo are about movies and TV, while GetGlue covers just about everything -- books, movies, TV and more. All these services, of course, allow you to push your check-in updates to Twitter or Facebook, allowing everyone in your networks to see what it is you're doing when you should be billable.

(Of course the question then becomes whether it's worth building up a network of friends on Foursquare, Miso or wherever if you're only going to broadcast the check-ins to the general public, regardless of whether they follow you on each sub-network. These services then become, essentially, apps for Twitter or Facebook. Personally, I've stopped adding friends on these location networks because, really, what's the point?)

Miso, Philo and the rest fill a gap that existed in strictly location-based networks, at least a gap that was preventing movie studios from taking full advantage of the rise of the check-in.

When check-ins are limited to a location, then it's possible for users to say they're at their local multiplex with just the push of a couple buttons. They can even say which movie they're there to see with an additional bit of text before pushing the update to Facebook. So if studios were monitoring social updates -- and of course they're monitoring for social updates involving their movies -- they could see these notes.

But with entertainment-based check-ins, whole new strategies are possible to take advantage of people's enthusiasm to show off what they're doing to their social-network connections. Miso and other networks already hand out their own badges. People can earn "TV Fan" badges and other such honors, mostly based around genres.

Imagine, though, if someone could earn a "Paramount Ambassador" badge after checking in to 20 movies from that studio. And imagine if the studio then had a program in place to reward that person with some sort of prize pack or other freebies.

Even take it down a notch. Imagine if a studio were monitoring for people checking in to see its big tent-pole release (having added a "Check in on Miso" icon to that movie's official website alongside the "Find us on Facebook" icon to spur such activity) and decided to pick random people and send them movie-branded swag -- a T-shirt, a hat or something like that.

There are 17 different roads that we could go down in terms of integrating some of these new social-add-on services, be they check-ins such as Miso and Philo or intent-signaling networks such as Plancast.

What's important, though, is that there are more tools available than ever before that allow movie studios not only to get a sense of what people's activities are around their movies, be they new releases in theaters or catalog titles on DVD, but also reward that activity while also building brand loyalty and enthusiasm for individual movies as well as for the studios as a whole.

Chris Thilk writes and publishes MovieMarketingMadness.com and is a supervisor at PR and marketing agency Voce Communications.
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