Chong Oh, Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA, found that not only does activity on Twitter, which is a surrogate for, or the online equivalent of actual word-of-mouth chatter, has a direct positive effect on how many people go to see a particular movie.
He also demonstrated on the basis of this analysis that studio-generated content and online engagement with the putative audience has an indirect effect.
According to the research, the more a movie studio is willing to engage with its followers via social media the more likely it is to have a higher WOM volume. This subsequently increases the likelihood of having a higher opening-weekend box office performance.
Oh said that the key activity of sending outgoing tweets in the seven days leading up to the release weekend was a good indicator that correlated to word-of-mouth volume buzz about the movie, as social media represent an opportunity to reach an audience and establish relationships at a personal level that traditional advertising is not capable of achieving.
The study was published in the International Journal of Information Systems and Change Management.