Social Media Audiences Make New Purchase Markets

    Traditional products suddenly can have new audience identification thanks to none other than social networks.

    What I mean is that social media can form and gather specific audiences for product categories previously dismissed or miniscule. Example please?

    In the last 10 years I’ve noticed films entirely centered around “birding;” movies about people who birdwatch. I don’t mean small indie films; I mean major studio motion pictures. Actors like Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black (The Big Year), William Hurt (Rare Birds), Tom Cavanagh (The Birder) and Ben Kingsly (A Birder’s Guide to Everything). Now I’m not a birder, so there’s a lot I don’t know. And in fact I only saw the first and last movie out of the above list (there’s a good article on these films on But there must be some information that is causing the studios to keep making non-documentary, drama motion pictures on the subject.

    I would assume birders talk to each other, sometimes get together to birdwatch, buy books and maybe newsletters on the topic. But if a film is about a specific niche topic, it’s hard to accumulate the word-of-mouth necessary to cause awareness and attraction for who should be its biggest fans. In other words, I think it would have been hard 30 years ago to spread awareness among birders about a birding movie. I think of a movie from the ’80s, Repo Man, about which Roger Ebert said something like “the only time I know of that repo men, aliens and punk rockers have ever been in the same film together” (note the film didn’t do well at the time but since then developed a cult following). Ever heard of that film? If not, probably because the topic was too niche.

    Point being, 30 years ago it was hard to assess and speak to a national audience of small, spread-out niche fans. Enter social media. Today, groups of intense fans, such as birders, can find each other and passionately share their common interests through social media. And because of these properties, social media can actually birth and cultivate these interests where lack of communication might have killed the trend in years past. Summary: Social media procures new life, new audiences and even new product category potential for groups like birders.

    Therefore, birders all over the nation can immediately talk about things like the new birding movie coming out. New audience formation. Free advertising which formerly would have been very costly. If they’re smart, these motion picture promoters go and find these niche groups in social media in forums, blogs, Facebook, Instagram and so on. And mention the movie there. If the film studios can count a quantity of social media birding fans, and know they can communicate on those social media groups, and project they can convert roughly X% of that audience to see the movie, they can project a sales volume. And suddenly a film about birders, which would have gone unnoticed and unprofitable 30 years ago, can gauge and convert profitability. Somewhere here there’s a joke such as “up in the sky: it’s a plane, it’s Superman, no it’s an albino night owl.”

    thanks for reading, J. Aull