Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, OTT platforms are experiencing a unique moment. With millions at home, people are craving new content.
According to PMG partner insights, Pinterest has seen incredible YOY spikes in engagement, including a 60% jump in searches, a 30% boost in sign-ups and a 43% increase in board creation. Meanwhile, YouTube captures 10M search queries and billions of views worldwide related to COVID-19 authoritative news coverage every day and Reddit is experiencing double-digit growth in site visits.
Considering how much you’ve likely seen about ‘Tiger King’ on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, it’s no surprise that many are turning to the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu to bide their time.
Because of the major disruptions caused by COVID-19, these OTT platforms have even become landing pads for feature films and studios as they respond to movie theater closures.
As such, we’ve seen rapid home releases of Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma, and SXSW will premiere its film lineup on Amazon Prime Video.
Additionally, with fans yearning for sports content, ESPN has announced that the release of its anticipated 10-part series about Michael Jordan, The Last Dance, has been pushed from June to April.
As OTT offerings continue to grow and change, social media platforms are an effective channel to drive OTT adoption rates while offering much-needed escapist content.
With events and entertainment in the outside world put on hold, people are turning to social media for escape and distraction, whether it be watching celebrities and musicians on Instagram Stories or tagging each other in memes across a variety of platforms.
Content creation is on the rise – TikTok and Twitch, two of the main creator channels, are experiencing a significant jump in videos and streams as creators and consumers alike seek an outlet.
This increased consumption creates a massive opportunity for OTT brands to get in front of a large and engaged audience.
Historically, OTT brands excel in social media marketing by using their original content as the centerpiece of their ads. While many are consuming content on social channels, OTT brands can utilize this unique content to persuade users to tune into their offering.
This is all part of the continued trend of growing OTT promotion via social media. Being a competitive landscape, OTT brands are fighting hard for people’s subscriptions.
Quibi, a mobile short-form video platform, spent millions on social media advertising, even before its April 6th launch. They clearly understood the stakes and wanted to take advantage of a wide audience at home.
In addition to the number of eyeballs available via social media at this time, another opportunity for OTT brands is presented in the fact that the space is less crowded with many pausing media efforts due to affected business operations, sensitives and more.
However, advertising during this crisis, of course, requires a hypersensitive evaluation of tone. Internal teams must adopt a heightened scrutiny of their messaging and approach to ensure that content strategy is relevant, effective, and sensitive to the situation at hand.
For movie studios, an OTT platform release is very different from a typical theater release. Historically, studios would get the word out that a movie was available through a spray and pray approach with high impact media placements.
With OTT listings, they also need to educate the audience on which platform it’s available through. This adds another element to get across in promotions and requires studios to analyze if they’re actually convincing people to adopt streaming services.
As OTT platforms and studios are promoting their new movies, they must take well thought out steps.
First, they must figure out what their objective is. Is it awareness of the movie or movie streams? Ideally, it’ll be a solid mixture of both. It’s important that people know the movie exists but also to know exactly where it’s available so they can act on it.
Next, identify the target audience for the movie itself and align it to which social platform makes the most sense.
YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are already major players and should be part of every social media plan due to these platforms’ expansive reach and targeting capabilities — but there are other options to explore.
For example, younger audiences can be reached through TikTok and Snapchat. Pinterest is traditionally a great avenue for mothers who are looking for ideas of what to do with kids at home, making it great for promoting family-focused content.
Meanwhile, Twitch and Reddit can reach tech-driven and male-skewed audiences. It’s important that teams think carefully to ensure they’re reaching the right people, in the right way, during this sensitive time.
Video is always the best option for OTT platforms since that is their primary output. For shows and films alike, trailer-specific content is readily available and can be adjusted into six second or 30 second cuts to post across various social media outlets.
Another way to be creative includes slide shows with three to five static images to flip through on Facebook and Instagram.
The increase in livestreaming during this time provides an opportunity for marketers to leverage their content, as well as actors and directors. Doing so on Facebook and Instagram and other daily apps offers a more personal connection than clean, edited videos.
My husband and I have a movie night every other week where we are loyal to one dine-in theater. We decided to replicate this during our quarantine as we heard The Hunt was available on Amazon Cinema.
We saw that it was $20 to stream which is similar to how much we would spend for two theater tickets. We had dinner delivered through UberEats, sat down on our couch, and watched the movie. This was a definite change, but one we might do in the future if we can watch new movies right at home.
For OTT brands, direct to home releases could be a norm for them going forward. As such, during this time they should build good partnerships with movie studios while they have the upper hand.
With the world rapidly changing, the world post COVID-19 will be a different one. However, we can be certain that OTT platforms will continue to bring people together with content that everyone can share. And while the Tiger King memes will fall off eventually, there will be plenty of OTT promotion and chatter on social media right around the corner.
Ting Zheng is a social account lead at PMG where she leads channel strategy and execution for some of the world’s biggest B2B, travel, technology and retail brands.
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