Welcome to the world of Bollywood, where movie stars are dressed in Indian fashion’s absolute finest; where stars are revered and respected almost as much as one’s parents; where performing and dancing to colorful and lively music with an expansive and magical backdrop (and 50+ background dancers—see below) is the norm; and where the word drama takes a whole new level.
Bollywood is India’s version of Hollywood, and produces more than 1,000 movies a year. In 2012 alone, more than two million tickets to see Bollywood films were sold, and each film is more often than not a musical that ranges in length from 2.5–3 hours.
And you thought Hollywood films were long.
Since 1913, the Indian film industry has continued to grow. The sets keep getting bigger, the costs of producing a movie are increasing and the “WOW” factor needed to captivate and impress the Indian audience is massive!
Just like the rest of us, India’s film industry learned early on that social media wasn’t going to be like any other marketing effort for them. Vintage, colorful posters plastered across the streets in every alley and shop were no longer going to drive their audiences to the theaters.
1975’s ‘Sholay’ is classic Bollywood. Another must-see.
Instead, it was going to be social media that did that. Engaging, captivating and entertaining digital strategies enacted across the web were going to be the reason films succeeded. It was going to be the reason movie theaters would be filled to the brim with viewers. It was going to be the “WOW” factor they needed to continue to grow the Indian film industry.
Through the use of social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, production houses don’t discriminate. They do whatever they can to build up excitement and anticipation for their respective movies months in advance. What makes it even better is that it’s quick, inexpensive and can reach a much, much larger audience than before (and that’s saying something when India’s population is so big already!).
A few of the more successful strategies that have worked in Bollywood:
Bollywood’s very own social channels
Each Bollywood movie will now get its own Facebook page and Twitter handle. It’s through these channels that most of the promotions actually occur.
Like sharing milestones with songs from the movie:
Who knew a breakup song would get 100 million people grooving!???????? #100MillionTheBreakupSong #KaranJohar #RanbirKapoor Anushka Sharma Pritam Sony Music India Fox Star Hindi
Posted by Ae Dil Hai Mushkil on Tuesday, January 3, 2017
And sharing behind-the-scenes photos of the stars:
We can’t forget the film’s stars out on the street, prepped and ready for promotional events:
— OK Jaanu (@OKJaanuOfficial) January 9, 2017
Stars on Social
Most, if not all, Bollywood actors have some sort of online presence, and since most Bollywood movies are musicals, teasers of upcoming popular songs are shared to strategically rev up audience excitement.
In preparation for her upcoming and highly anticipated movie with Bollywood heartthrob Salman Khan, actress Sonam Kapoor requested her fans to share dubsmashes of them performing her signature moves in the title song from the movie, and boy did the entries come pouring in.
Super impressed with these girls!! I also went through your page #Naina and #manpreet you guys are very awesome at what you do.. Please come to Bollywood to choreograph some amazing stuff!! Will be following you on social media!! #Repost @naina_batra16 and @toor.manpreet ・・・ Rut milan ki layo…prem ratan❤️ #premratandhanpayo #sonamkapoor #beingsalmankhan #soorajbarjatya
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours
One final big piece that comes into play when promoting big movies on social is the actors, directors, producers, singers, songwriters and more. The bigger the following these stars have (and yes, they’re all stars), the more likely that they’ll push out a quick tweet, post or photo promoting a fellow member of the industry’s film.
For her highly anticipated movie Neerja, Sonam Kapoor asked her audience and fellow stars to share what their biggest fear is. Receiving hundreds of responses, Sonam Kapoor shared the top videos of her colleagues on her Instagram channel.
Newly released and highly anticipated Dangal by Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan saw a number of social posts by his fellow colleagues in the film industry, sharing their excitement and respect not only toward him, but his upcoming project.
— Ranveer Singh (@RanveerOfficial) December 22, 2016
#dangal is the best film of the year and the performances by the entire cast is also the best of the year.
— Varun Dhawan (@Varun_dvn) December 27, 2016
Social media has dramatically changed the way Bollywood does business. Digital strategies were created that catered specifically to the Bollywood audience, and we’re seeing firsthand just how successful they’ve been. Social media has given the Indian film industry a renewed sense of excitement and a breath of fresh air that is set to last for years to come.
Ever in the mood to try your hand out with a Bollywood movie? Let me know; I’ll always tag along.