How (and Why) Did Bird Box Go Viral?
Bird Box is a Netflix movie drew over 45 million accounts to watch it just 7 days, setting new records for viewers on Netflix content.
Keep in mind, “accounts” does not equal “viewers” – 1 account could have had 10 viewers at once. This is also not taking into account how many shared accounts there are (my entire family mooches off mine).
While 45 million unique accounts may have watched Bird Box, I would estimate the number of people who actually watched the movie is more like 90 million.
To understand how astounding these numbers are, let’s try and put this in perspective in terms of a traditional movie opening.
The Avenger’s Infinity War is the largest grossing box office movie of all time – in the first 3 days of opening it sold 28.1 million tickets (source).
If we multiply that out to get to 7 days we can [roughly] get to 70 million tickets.
That would put Bird Box ahead of the largest grossing movie of all time (when comparing viewers to tickets sold).
Generally speaking, Netflix doesn’t advertise their movies – they usually reach virality due to the quality of the program and word of mouth.
However, Bird Box wasn’t anything overly special (yes, it was pretty good, but not record breaking good).
Bird Box reviews are mediocre
So, what happened? How did Bird Box go viral?
I have a few theories…
1. Netflix is drawing MAJOR talent to their platform
Sandra Bullock, an academy award winner, stars in the movie alongside other big names like John Malcovich. A Netlflix movie costs less to make and [now] MORE people are watching it. We live in an attention driven world – Netflix has the eyeballs, if you were a major actor, why wouldn’t you want to be there?
This is very similar to whats happening with Amazon and Ecommerce. Amazon is becoming synonymous with Ecommerce, if you’re a retailer, you have to sell there.
2. Netflix is similar to Amazon in that its its own marketing engine
Netflix has 90 million active accounts. When you put something in the highlighted position in Netflix, it gets eyeballs and people are going to watch things naturally. When you combine that with “oh, I’ve heard about this” its easy to get something to go viral…more on that in my next point.
3. Instagram Memes
Now, this is all theory, but I believe the marketing team at Bird Box used their advertising spend to work with content creators on Instagram. More specifically, meme accounts.
On the day the movie launched, I started noticing a few major “meme” accounts were posting images and videos using stills from the movie. This triggered a massive landslide of Bird Box memes from all sorts of accounts (influencers and non influencers) as well as a #BirdBoxChallenge hashtag.
While this may look and seem organic, I truly believe it’s not. These “meme” accounts all accept advertisers and are incredibly adept at making them look natural.
Nothing happens by accident, I believe this Instagram virality (which was the ultimate driver of success for the movie) began with well placed ads on influencer accounts.
What does this mean for businesses in 2019?
A few things…
1. If you didn’t see it before, the landscape has OFFICIALLY changed.
If you’re still one of the people who doesn’t believe in digital and convenience platforms, look no further. This is the beginning of a colossal shift in power that’s going to take place in the film industry.
This is much larger than just film though, this extends to all industry’s who have held a monopoly of power. The internet is here and it’s the future of all forms of business.
2. Marketing will get more and more specialized.
Certain businesses will be (and should be) pulling money out of non conversion channels and pushing all in on ones that drive their goals. Some marketing channels are just NOT a good fit for certain businesses (i.e. search vs instagram). YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT POPS OFF for your business, plain and simple.
3. For my marketers out there, especially my SEOs, learn other tactics.
Become a well rounded marketer. I don’t care if you dont’ like instagram (I personally don’t either), learn and understand how to use it and its place in marketing. Same thing with email, ads, and yes, even SEO. Understand how your channel fits into the broad picture of marketing and how your business should be leveraging in the year to come.
That’s all I got for this week – please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more updates.