Superhero movies rely on the strengths of their superhuman leads, but social media success depends on vigilant fans and smart campaigns. To add to Black Panther’s growing list of wins, which includes approaching the $500 million worldwide box office mark, we can now add social media slayer.
The Ryan-Coogler directed Panther also out-socialed several other films that dominated the news cycle in the last year. Essentially, when you look at likes, retweets, reposts or any sort of action taken after a posting on an official social account for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnorak, Wonder Woman and Black Panther, the black cat wins. Hands down. All told, so far, there are 43 million "actions" taken by fans who follow the Chadwick Boseman film on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or ツ, according to Shareablee, a company that helps businesses analyze social content using data and also partners with ComScore. (These "actions" do not take into account postings by the stars of the films, but only postings generated and placed by the official media accounts of the film studios.)
It's interesting to view Black Panther's social prowess when compared to other superhero or fantasy flicks that dominated the box office in the last 365 days. Star Wars: The Last Jedi took in $1.3 billion total worldwide but had only 26 million actions, according to Shareablee. Meanwhile, Black Panther is poised to push Disney's worldwide take into the $1 billion mark at just 50 or so days into the new year. And, the film has already surpassed the social actions awarded to Star Wars. Keep in mind that the recording of social actions begins up to eight months prior to a movie's release. According to the data, Black Panther started out strong a year ago and only got stronger as February 2018 approached.
"When I looked at the engagement data for Black Panther, I see a much wider reach than what we'll see for many other Marvel films," says Tania Yuki, the founder and CEO of Shareablee. "If you’re looking at some of the bigger Marvel releases, they’ll engage with Marvel Studios and Avengers and others. You see that for Black Panther, but also see [fans reaching to] for television and film. It managed to really get beyond the core demo and interest new audiences in the genre."
But let's look at the other numbers. The Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman,
another superhero flick that featured an unconventional (for Hollywood at least) cast, story and director, took in a total of $821 million worldwide and $412 million domestically. For its opening weekend it drew $103 million domestically. Wonder Woman,
of those four before-mentioned movies, also ruled¯\_(ツ)_/¯ but overall actions for all four social platforms tallied in at 8 million, far below the reach of Ryan Coogler's Marvel film.
Meanwhile, Thor: Ragnorak
won the Facebook game, hands down, with 7.4 million actions and 114 million views. As a comparison, Black Panther
on Facebook had 3.3 million total actions and 49 million views.
The Last Jedi
pulled in the big dollars, pulled in millions of social actions and yet didn't pull in the same social figures as the other films. Perhaps that is because audiences have known about the intergalactic drama for decades. When you've seen something since the 1970s, perhaps you don't tweet as much about it. Meanwhile, Black Panther
and Wonder Woman
brought a level of excitement to the movie experience not often seen. A successful female superhero flick and a dazzling, majority black casted superhero film drew social support from all the usual suspects but added in additional support from non-white or non-male fans that are often ignored by the fanboy establishment.
To that end, several studies have confirmed
what even a casual social media explorer can quickly surmise: Blacks and Latinos over-index in use of Twitter and Instagram and their conversations have a major impact on influencing users to try new television shows and products. Those same users also often shift the trending topics of the day, especially if the topic is created by a handful of notable super users who also happen to be people of color. It is safe to say that the majority of super users who normally influence trending topics and hashtags are talking about and have been talking about Black Panther
All that said, Instagram is the social platform where these communities really came together, says Yuki.
"Any time you’ve got a diaspora or you’ve got a specific audience aligned around culture or value or interest, Instagram does tend to be the place where you see likeminded individuals get together very quickly around things," says Yuki, adding that Hollywood could learn something about marketing when reviewing data about audience enthusiasm. "There can sometimes be a perception that something cast entirely with minorities won't have that same mass market appeal. This proves unequivacally that there is huge global interest around stories that resonate around the human condition. I was looking at the data and saying wow... Maybe social media offers a way for us to overcome those perceptions."
Writer: Adrienne Gibbs