It’s no secret, that Hunger Games has already made over $300 million in US theaters and that will put it on target to reach over $1 billion before then end of the year. However, the money is a result of good planning and a keen media team.

Lionsgate’s senior vice president for digital marketing Danielle DePalma saw early on how social media could be the backbone of Hunger Games marketing and would be the best route to engaging fans in a meaningful and cost-effective way. One key: assigning a separate hashtag to each campaign event.

The social media campaign could not have succeeded without solid creative or a masterful overall campaign, helmed by Lionsgate’s chief marketing officer Tim Palen, which included an offline strategy overseen by senior vice president of media and research Erika Schimik.

Here, DePalma takes us through the strategy and execution of the social media campaign, which rolled out in sync with creative, PR, and traditional promotions and kicked off with the release of the first image of the Mockingjay, the pin on fire.

1. Play to your base: Fans come first. And second. And third.

The Hunger Games marketing team learned early on that an engaged fan
base was already eager for any word of the coming screen adaptation of their
favorite book. Tapping into that base was task one and began that process more
than a year ago.

2. Be a social butterfly: Exploit each social media platform for its unique qualities

They launched a site called that allowed fans to register for a district–a key component of the campaign. Fans could create their own district badges on Facebook, where they would connect to their district communities and be active participants. And it made the fans into invested participants in the campaign. In Twitter fans were divided by districts. Using Tumblr they showcased the movie’s outlandish costumes and makeup, and grabbing fans who were interested in that aspect.

3. The Source – The Hunger Games – The book is our bible

The elaborate world created by Suzanne Collins helped the movie’s marketing team imagine the many ways they could bring it to life for fans, such as letting them choose district identities.

4. Cast a wide net: Everyone is on a “Hunger Games” Team

Listen to your fans. That allowed them to tap into male fans. The
videogame-oriented site IGN focused on such things as how to train for the
games, which seems to have drawn in men who weren’t otherwise interested in the

5. Tease Carefully

Early on they teased images of the faces of the Capitol, which was done as part of a cobranded campaign with China Glaze, the nail lacquer. It was all a tease of the colorful Capitol, which readers had only been able to imagine until then.

6. Turn traditional Advertising into a series of social media events

Clearly, social media was a tremendous factor in driving the success of The Hunger Games, but no one is under the impression that traditional media–print ads, TV commercials, outdoor–is no longer essential. In fact, by turning the release of those traditional campaigns into online events,
Lionsgate was able to turn advertising and public relations into the cornerstone of its social campaign.

7. Cross-pollinate social media platforms

For the launch of the poster 100 days out from the movie’s release (“#HungerGames100”), Lionsgate created a puzzle, allowing fans to gather pieces from many different places online in order to assemble the poster themselves, thereby leading fans organically from one social media site to another. One hundred partner sites hid their puzzle pieces on their Facebook page.

8. Tweet constantly

Though the plan for the campaign was comprehensive from the beginning it allowed for changes along the way to optimize according to the reaction of fans. Fan-created contact can often work best.

9. Employ Apps and games to sustain post-release momentum

Lionsgate released The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire app for iPhone iOS the day before the movie’s release and there are more slow rollouts leading up to the next theatrical release.

10. Play the long game: This is only the beginning

With the film still playing strong at the box office and two more movies to come (the second one is slated for November 2013)–not to mention the first film’s DVD release on a still-unannounced date. Fans want to be able to continue to share with friends their excitement for the film.

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