Franchise films are a big part of Hollywood's business model today. But with one of the biggest franchises in cinema history, Warner Bros. faced the challenge of keeping fans engaged and excited for a decade's worth of Harry Potter films. While the marketing of that franchise's earliest installments predates most of the tools, platforms, and strategies we associate with today's social media, the studio's marketing of the final film -- "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" -- proved that a thoughtful social media campaign is an essential ingredient to any marketing plan and a key driver or box office sales.
Building on the film's long-running Facebook presence, Warner Bros. made sure that the millions of Potter fans had a steady stream of content. The strategy helped create a surge close to the film's release with the Potter page gaining a reported 100,000 fans a day just before opening weekend. But the content wasn't limited to what might be described as marketing materials. In order to unify the franchise and leverage the cumulative growth of the series, Warner Bros. made a smart decision to make some of the earlier Potter films available for rental on Facebook and to promote that on the Deathly Hallows Part 2 page. The campaign also drew on an incredibly active Twitter and YouTube presence that offered fans nonstop Potter content, as well as outreach to the legions websites and blogs where movie buffs congregate.
The final installment in the Potter franchise shattered box office records, and while some of that is attributable to 3D ticket prices, it's hard to ignore the impact of social media when you consider the sheer passion the studio was able to leverage.