While attending the festival, I conducted my research on the social media presence at Sundance 2014. Coming into the event, I was planning on mainly focusing on the social media of the films and filmmakers, and how they are used to promote the film and increase the number of audience members. However, after being at the festival for a few days, I noticed that social media had an even larger presence here. I decided to focus on the social media of three different entities: films, sponsors, and the festival/Sundance Institute itself.
Many films had a large social media presence while others did not have an online existence at all. Some had Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts leading up to the festival and during the actual week of the festival, others were only active during the festival, and some simply did not utilize social media at all. Social media can be helpful for independent films because they are often not as well known and do not always get the same high level of attention as mainstream movies. However, according to the social media manager for the film Infinitely Polar Bear, publicity from press coverage is arguably more important than social media, but social media outlets can be helpful for distributing literal information, such as screening times and locations.
Almost all of the sponsors heavily used social media while at the festival and encouraged “attendees to tweet with hashtags and join the Sundance conversation” (Mashable.com, 2014). Aside from the typical promotion posts and interactions with followers, three major sponsors of the 2014 festival (Acura, HP, and YouTube) especially embraced various social media outlets to connect with festival attendees on an even higher level, with different social media “activities” and outlets featured at their official Sundance locations. Similar to the films, the sponsors took advantage of social media to directly connect with fans and attendees and increase their brand’s public image.
Finally, the festival itself and the Sundance Institute employed heavy social media tactics. There were several official Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube accounts pertaining to the Sundance Film Festival or Sundance Institute/Channel itself. Sundance also had a partnership with Instagram, which allowed fans to be ableto see behind-the-scenes content from the festival and celebrities. There was a high level of crowdsourcing of photos through hashtags, and Instagram cutouts were found at theaters for fans and celebrities to take photos with. Additionally, #Sundance Spark hubs were found at 18 different official Sundance venues which featured digital monitors that displayed social media conversations in real-time and highlighted social stats.
I also gave a survey to our class to get some insight on what everyone thought about social media while we were here. According to a survey given to our class, on average most of us noticed social media a lot whole attending the festival, the most popular outlets being Twitter and Instagram. The class felt the most social media activity was from the festival/Sundance Institute, with the filmmakers being the second highest. On a whole, almost everyone agreed it is important for indie films to use social media to gain attention.
All in all, Twitter and Instagram are taking over the social media world. Facebook is slowly being pushed out, since it is typically not as effective or preferred by most users. One interesting statistic: In 2012 Facebook revealed that on average a page’s post only reaches about 12% of followers (Mashable.com, 2012).
Social media played a large and important role at this year’s festival. It even was a reoccurring theme in a few films. As a strategic communications major, I believe it is very important to keep up with the constantly changing social media trends of our culture. If used properly and strategically, social media can be a very helpful tool within the media industry.
Here is a great article from Mashable.com for further information about this year’s social media at the festival.