Virtually every TV show has a Twitter feed, but follower stats don’t necessarily mean anything. If MSNBC’s Morning Joe was cancelled, its 119,000 followers would just shrug and move on to a different breakfast show, but Sleepy Hollow’s 80,000 would probably march on Fox’s headquarters en masse if the same thing happened to them. Quantity does not mean quality, even when you’re tallying up something as seemingly simple as social media followers.
When Scarlett Johansson spoke about the “gilded cage” of being a Marvel Studios star, she was talking about the way publicizing geek media franchises now means far more than just interviews on talk shows and movie magazines.
During the two or three-month media tour for a big movie like Avengers, every interview will be copied onto YouTube, discussed on social media, and GIF-ed and quoted across Tumblr and BuzzFeed and a thousand other sites. The machine of audience-driven Internet publicity isn’t just dedicated to the hardcore fans who work their way up the Hunger Games official fan page leaderboard, it also includes everyone who casually retweets a Tom Hiddleston GIF. This kind of thing is easier to consume than a 10-minute segment on Jimmy Kimmel, and it’s far more likely to reach that all-important early adopter audience of social media addicts.
We’re not suggesting that everyone should flush their smartphone down the toilet and run for the hills, just that it’s important to be aware of the mechanisms at work behind everyone’s favorite fandoms.