The Sony Pictures app allows users to quickly and easily book real-time tickets without (god forbid) having to leave Facebook. Where they’ve been smart is with the group-buy element where they gently encourage users to organise a ‘group outing’ by purchasing tickets in advance for them and their friends. Users have the option to ‘invite friends’ to attend the group-outing via an auto-generated Facebook event invite. I’m guessing social cinema outings are important for viewers of this movie which probably skews quite young demographically, so this is a nice move. Plus there’s the obvious tie-in with the movie concept – ‘friends with benefits’ – it’s a social movie about friendships so it makes sense to go along with your own group of friends.
There’s also an invitation for users to post the outing on their Facebook walls stimulating further word of mouth and buzz. While it’s not the most innovative attempt at a WoM/Social campaign I applaud them for having the nouse to streamline the ticket-buying process so that it’s easier for groups to get involved.
How could the app be improved? Here’s some ideas…
Once you’ve invited your friends to take part you need to wait until they a) notice that they’ve got a new invite in their Facebook events section (I wonder how many people check this and how often?) and b) they decide they want to attend your group cinema outing (which I would imagine would involve further conversations before a commitment is made). This does make the process a little clunky and time intensive. Plus I would have liked to have seen an option to personalise your event invite – as the auto-generated copy doesn’t exactly sell the movie to you.
Once your friends have opted in to attend your group cinema outing, I would question how many people are willing to pay upfront for all of their friends to go to the cinema? I myself have organised group events like this only to be chasing friends for weeks upon end to eventually sort out the tedious finances. This situation usually ends with me vowing never to organise a group event again!
This is where a group-buying incentive could work really nicely – where you’re rewarded for going to the trouble of organising a group outing. And we’re not necessarily talking a monetary discount, considering Sony Pictures are in the business of movies, incentives could take the form of exclusive access to digital assets, movie clips, or even interviews with talent. By giving people additional reasons to organise group-outings Sony could substantially increase ticket sales and WoM.