The communication of film information on WeChat can cause widespread attention and has a direct impact on the moviegoers and the film marketers who both are WeChat users. The film information published on the Moments (in Chinese it is called circle of friends) of WeChat will be directly received by friends, and affect the users perception of the film. Under the strong social relationships and high trusts, the film information published by WeChat friends will have a greater impact on other peoples attitudes. Therefore, when a friend makes a high rating on a film in Moments, the information will directly affect the cinema-going behavior of other friends of this friend. Also, as the information disseminator, through WeChat, the film marketers can impact peoples cinema-going behavior to the most significant extent.
Since the only statistical information of WeChat users accessibility and participation can be seen in a notification is the number of likes and views.The films word-of-mouth effect on WeChat should be initially measured base on the number of likes and views in relevant notifications pushed by the films WeChat official account. WeChat is a closed social platform, where interaction between users is based on closed-loop communication within the circle of acquaintances when compared to the widespread communication mode of Weibo. WeChats circle of friends is more private and small-circled, I propose the feature and communication mode of WeChat must also be taken into consideration when analysing the marketing strategies and effects of Monkey King on WeChat.
4.2 Notifications of the films WeChat official account
There are totally 36 notifications pushed by Monkey King: Hero is Backs WeChat official account between 1st January and 9th September 2015. The first push was on 7th January, which was closed to the day of this films first marketing activity on Weibo (20th January). The films 3D trailer was attached in this notification and the text mainly introduced some basic information about this film, such as role introduction, story background, plot and so forth. The notification has the views number of 3069 and received 31 likes. The people who have read this notification was three times as the people who participated the online interactive activity on Weibo on 20th January, this shows that the communication efficiency and the frequency of using WeChat are relatively higher. The last push was on 3rd September. The content of this push was a summary of the film marketing of the entire period. Between January and May, just prior to the release of the film, the official account pushes an average of three to four pushes per month. The main contents were the related offline activities organised by the film marketing team, film introduction, and the news that were related to the film. The purpose was to pave the way for the film, triggering audiences interests to go to see the film. During the three months between June and September when the film was screening, there were only 9 pushed notifications, which was the half of the number before the film was released. The contents of these notifications were merely the thanks to the WeChat users who participated in the promotion of the film, lucky draws were provided to the users in order to ensure WeChat users continued attention to the film.
The notification that received the highest views and likes was the one pushed on 29th June. This pushs content is the initial drawing draft of the film, the evolution of characters, poster design, and scene design. This push has over 10000 readings and over 2000 likes. This is almost the same time as the 100 celebrities promoting video was posted on Weibo (30th June). Combined with the box office, this WeChat notification push also considerably boosted the growth of the box office as has been presented in the previous chapter.
4.3 Other verified official accounts
As on the premiere weekend (10th July, Friday), the row piece rate was less than 10%, and the first two days box office added together were less than 30 million, according to the usual pattern of box office decline, if this low box office trend continued, then it may be very difficult for Monkey King to receive more than 100 million box office in the end. However, the turning point appeared on 12th July, when many WeChat pushes suddenly flooded on the WeChat Moments. Among them, two notification pushes by two verified official accounts went viral the most, one was named as The Original Hand Drawing of Monkey King: Hero is Back is Out! So Stunning! and the other one was The Once hanged-by-a-thread Monkey King: Hero is Back became a collective orgasm in the film industry. Both of the two notifications got more than 100 thousand views and likes (the highest amount of readings and likes can be seen in a notification is displayed as 100,000+). Besides, due to the search results, I also found that on the same day, there were more than 600 re-edited notifications with the same titles contain The Original Hand Drawing of Monkey King: Hero is Back is Out by different accounts appeared on WeChat. This means that the information of the film quickly reached a large number of WeChat users within just 24 hours. Through the exhibition of original hand drawings, the sincerity of production and the unusualness of this domestic animated film were highlighted, so that made those who were aware but have not seen the film or even those who have not yet heard of this film quickly established the connection with Monkey King.
Such articles on WeChat Moments spread almost with geometric effect, information about Monkey King began to spread like virus on social media, finally, it attracted public attention with good positive word-of-mouth. As said by the editor of the widely shared notification of original hand drawing of Monkey King,
Do you think we are the paid posters? Well, I really dont think that a film with a less-than-100-million budget, after divested by the investors; afforded the rest of the production by the producer himself; suffered boil for eight years; was forced to cut 30% of the content; was arranged such painfully low show rate, would have any money left to pay the paid-posters. If there is, we are the helpers invited by the Monkey King!
Once again, this highlights the fact that almost all the words of this film they write have been about such as behind the scene ups and downs, and no money for marketing, and the most importantly, it is the films durable quality made the influential self-media people spontaneously write notification to promote for the film on WeChat, which also proves Monkey King: Hero is Backs box office counterattack success completely purely rely on the positive word-of-mouth effect.
A well-known film critic, who not only has 4.33 million followers on Weibo, but also is running his own WeChat official account, once rejected the offering to watch the film by the films promotion team. However, in his recommendation notification pushed on 7th July, he mentioned that, since from 29th June, he had started receiving numerous comments and direct messages from fans recommending him to watch Monkey King: Hero is Back: at the time, no matter what my Weibo posts were, there were always a bunch of people commented below my posts or direct-messaged me about how great the film was and ask me to write a review. This film critic said, at first he thought these were all from paid-posters, but later slowly he discovered that some familiar IDs who often interacted with him also recommended this film to him, and even left messages after some of his WeChat notifications. Finally, he bought the ticket with a great curiosity to see the film and pushed this notification on 7th with positive reviews. In the notification, he further stated that: if it was not for you guys, I did not even have the schedule to see this film. I have experienced so many times when fans recommend me some films. Sometimes I could not distinguish whether they are true film fans or the paid-posters. No matter what, this is indeed the biggest scale of film review request I have ever experienced. The views and likes of this notification, by the day I accessed (December 26, 2017) were respectively 27820 and 436.
In short, these notifications in WeChats Moments have won a large number of potential audiences for the film. Through the form of self-media, the WeChat official accounts spontaneously promoted for the film, which accomplished the communication of the films word-of-mouth. As a result, on 13th July, Monkey King became the box office winner of that day in Chinese cinema with nearly 40 million gross, which by the day has cumulatively received more than 100 million RMB in total. Since then, the box office kept rising in the following ten days, and Monkey King received 28.4 million box-office on 22nd July with the cumulative box office of more than 500 million.
4.4 Analysis of the films marketing on WeChat
Figure 3 (Chang, 2015, P. 81) below shows that the WeChat official accounts notification pushing to their subscribers who may potentially became the audience as a result. These audiences who have many friends in their WeChat contact would then serve as nodes connecting the cycle-layers into a communication network.
Figure 3. The Communication of Monkey King: Hero is Back on WeChat
During the release of Monkey King: Hero is Back, the audience who are individual WeChat users may only conduct communication within a small circle, but once a few friends within their own friend-circles all recommended this film, they may inevitably be infected too. When a person posts some information in WeChat Moments, the communication scope of this post can only reach the friends of this person. This is to say, only the friends this person have added in his/her contact can see this post. Besides, other friends cannot repost this post. Hence it not likely to form a secondary proliferation. When there is a WeChat official accounts notification publicly pushed into Moments that the content can interest users, the audience would then spontaneously read and share. The shared contents would then appear in another circle. Other users who are in this circle would also spread within their own circles. Therefore, there will generate linkage between circles and circles through personal behaviour of reposting, which would then form a cross-spread, so that the topics of film information will be widely spread.
When the users post independent word-of-mouth comments in their small circles, initially it would only lead to the concern within these small circles. When the friends of these users in the small circles saw the positive comments about Monkey King, once the actual cinema going behaviour was caused, and these friends also recognise the quality of this film, these audience are also highly likely to share their thoughts in their Moments, or repost some of the official accounts positive film analysis and reviews that they subscribed. If concordant views appear in different circles, then these contents will be circulated between circles and circles. The cross-diffusion from one circle to another has affected more audiences to pay attention to Monkey King. Therefore, with WeChat, word of mouth is transformed into the box office. Not to mention that this mode of communication does not require a penny from the film production team.
4.5 Chapter conclusion and evaluation
Marketing strategies used have an impact on the number of audiences interested in watching a newly released film in the market. Based on this it is evident that social media in the form of we chat and Weibo are instrumental in attracting the number of viewers through promotions in these social arenas. The use of push notifications by the promoters o...
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