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Social media marketing to the rescue for Marvel

Comic book publisher and film producer Marvel Worldwide Inc. is ramping up awareness for an onslaught of new movies coming this summer and next year with Twitter accounts based off its characters in an effort to connect more with fans. 

The company's superhero films create quite a stir on social media whenever a new one is released, something Marvel is using to its advantage. Some of the Marvel Universe characters on Twitter are Tony Stark, Ant-Man, Thor and many others. 

"In the past, fans would have long waits between productions to rekindle the relationship between themselves and the content," said Amir Zonozi, chief strategy officer at Zoomph, Washington, D.C. "This gives a way for fans to not only stay connected within the Marvel universe, but creates a channel for fans to communicate with characters.

"This is huge," he said. "Brands can use tools to extract insights into what motivates these fans by monitoring what they are saying in response and to these accounts. 

"By leveraging Twitter and social media, brands now have a real-time focus group to experiment storylines and content with, to create productions engineered to appease audiences."

These Twitter accounts take on the persona as a character account, but only share standard marketing content. Marvel could really take advantage of this type of marketing, but it is not reaching its full potential, especially with such beloved characters such as Iron Man?s alter ego Tony Stark. 

Iron clad marketing
Tony Stark is one of Marvel?s most attention-drawing characters from some of its most popular films. The playboy lifestyle and boorish behavior attracts many fans and has great potential for Marvel to connect with these fans in a unique and fun way, but the account is only used to Tweet stills and posters for various Marvel films. 
In a more effective social media effort, well-liked Hollywood actor who plays the character of Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr., recently took over all of Marvel's official social media accounts to live report at the premiere of the new Avengers film, Age of Ultron, on April 21. Mr. Downey Jr. shared pictures of the event on Marvel?s official Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages. 
This is a part of Marvel's ramped up social media marketing to drive sales for Age of Ultron, which is in currently in theaters abroad. Other content on social media is being shared, such as exclusive clips of the film, behind-the-scenes pictures and created hashtags. 

A contest on Tumblr is taking place until May 11 for fans to design the new comic cover, and a live chat is being held on April 30 on Twitter with comic book creator Gerry Duggan. 

Social image
A General Electric executive described a similar approach at Forrester Research?s Forum for Marketing Leaders and said the conglomerate aims to stand out in the crowd by communicating with the consumer as if the company were a person, supporting its outreach by providing emotional content and leveraging various channels? diverse features and strengths (see more).

Brands marketing through social media need to focus on creating overall authenticity and positive image through multiple channels, according to a panel at Forrester?s Forum for Marketing Leaders (see more).

"If Marvel treats this like a marketing tool, it will not be successful," Mr. Zonozi said. "Marvel needs to understand this is a content channel that is as critical to fan experience as any scene in their productions. 

"This is an opportunity to engage with fans, develop a deeper understanding of what motivates them, and grow loyalty towards their brands," he said. "This should not be valued and manipulated as a public relations platform to reshare links on to larger audiences. 

"As soon as content quality suffers and fans feel like they are being sold to, they will treat these accounts like advertisements. If Marvel does this right, and invests into the digital story they are telling, Marvel can leverage social media as a way to bring in new fans, cultivate their current fans and truly understand how to grow their brand in their fans? favor."

Final Take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily