Universal Studios has launched a Facebook app for the new year, giving away 2,010 Blu-ray movies. Cute, right? The weekly sweepstakes includes 25 prize packages, with films such as Wanted, Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The hope is that the new Facebook app will gain a good amount of traction and help Universal to get a stronger foothold in the social media space.
Several movie releases have been accompanied by Facebook apps in the past year. The Watchmen and Avatar are some of the more notable titles to emerge with high-end Facebook apps. Combining the two aspects of media consumption is a sometimes tricky feat, with opportunities to engage Facebook users through creatively developed applications.
For Universal, the emergence of Blu-ray films is an opportunity for the film studios to re-introduce a plethora of titles to a new and existing audience, taking up Facebook as a point of transmission for information regarding the films available.
While Universal has been one of the more wary companies to take advantage of social media when compared to other brands in general, the launching of a Facebook app means that the movie studio house is looking to a new age of advertising and marketing. Direct communications with consumers is of course a major goal for brands that offer Facebook apps, though we’re seeing that a great deal more can be done through socially integrated applications.
A sweepstakes such as this one could get a lot of users to join Universal’s new Facebook app rather quickly, giving Universal a wide range of users to access in the future. While the giveaway is operating on a weekly basis for only the month of January, having a captivating audience for the next few months could be an ultimate goal for Universal.
There are several directions Universal could take from there, possibly offering up movies for sale directly through the app or through Facebook gifts. Finding a way to become more integrated with media discovery and recommendation apps would be another way in which Universal could take advantage of its Blu-ray products with a Facebook slant. Incorporating trailers and virtual-to-direct sales could also be an option for Universal in cooperation with virtual world apps on Facebook and beyond.
The idea of major brands marketing in this manner on a platform such as Facebook adds validation to Facebook as an adverising option, and the mere addition of an app to your profile could become part of your consumer data that gets parsed by other applications.
With Facebook’s ongoing move to make profile content more public, closer relationships with brands and advertisers is imminent for Facebook. As a results, more brands are finding themselves increasingly willing to invest money and research into interactive marketing campaigns such as Facebook apps.
All of this is still a ways in the future, but it is the direction in which socially-oriented marketing is headed. Consumers will determine the effectiveness of such ads when it’s all said and done, but for the time being brands are finding all sorts of new ways to appeal to their customers directly through social networks.