MOVIEPILOT Builds Massive Fan-First Community

MOVIEPILOT is the home on the web for movie fans, offering news, fan theories, trailers, and movie news, from the earliest rumors all the way up to opening weekend and beyond.

The site originally launched as a content delivery platform for personalized movie news feeds out of Berlin in 2012. And as traffic grew, Moviepilot focused more on creating custom content to fuel the growth, which still continues to build as the team and the community deliver more & more content every day.

Between Moviepilot’s Editorial Team of 28 in-house writers worldwide and its 10,000+ fan Creator community, Moviepilot posts nearly 200 articles a day, and the Social Content team posts & promotes the best performing 40% on Facebook.

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And every month the audience gets bigger & bigger — this intersection of pop culture, comics, and movies, ignited by social, receives 80 million visits (32 million unique, 22 million from the US) on a monthly basis.

Explains Director of Community Aaron Kelly, “It’s all about producing the right content, for the right fans, and fine-tuning to what fans want to talk about. If you do it right, you can build something really strong.”

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In addition to ramping up content, Moviepilot focused its energy on the US, where it was seeing the most traffic, and set up shop just off Abbot Kinney in Venice in 2014. Says Kelly, “It became pretty clear that as the American audience grew out of control that we really needed to be over [here] more.”

From a handful of guys who migrated to LA from Europe a couple years ago, Moviepilot has grown its US staff to over 20, with plans to double in the next 18 months.

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“LA was an easy choice for us, since it is the heart of entertainment. There’s also this incredible startup scene and it’s been a fun ride ever since.” Relocating to LA and having their own PR team has helped develop relationships to secure exclusive content for the site, such as trailers and access to red carpet premieres.

Moviepilot has built out its space in a very crowded field by focusing on fans first, churning out fan-centric entertainment news on a continual basis, honing that content with data, and inviting fans into the mix by creating a community where fans can become creators and post their own content — opinions, theories, personal stories, or fiction.

Moviepilot even takes the Fans First mantra a step further by sharing their celebrity access directly with fans via their Special Ops program, in which Moviepilot arms their own fans with a GoPro on the red carpet premieres every week, asking celebrities questions that go beyond the typical canned Hollywood Q&A’s.

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The red carpet events get chopped up and garner anywhere from 50,000 to 300,000 views per premiere. And so far, the studios have been extremely receptive to this Fans First approach, especially since the site garners so much traffic on the site and on its socials.

“First & foremost we’re a content company. From an editorial standpoint, everything is fans first, and editorial follows from that — we create content we believe fans will get excited about.”

Kelly also says that understanding your audience is key. “We want to know who we’re writing for, and we want it to be entertaining for that audience. We’ve built this audience on Facebook and we’ve studied it day in & day out. And of course it changes, but we work very hard to not create content that falls on deaf ears, but to create content that is engineered to be entertaining, to be fascinating. If we’re creating content for people to read, it should be entertaining, energizing, creative.”

If fans are the fire, Facebook is the gasoline. With 30 million fans across 14 distinct pages (including Superheroes, Romance, Animation, Horror, Vampires, Celeb, Action, Fantasy, Creators, and more), Moviepilot treats each page as its own specialized community, enabling fans to view, read, and share their favorite content where they hang out online the most. And as a social publishing company, 90% of Moviepilot’s traffic comes from Facebook.

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Creator-posted content is growing on a continual basis (it’s almost half the daily-added content), and the company curates and promotes the better-performing pieces, but sometimes a viral hit can come out of the blue, such as Jon Negroni’s Pixar Theory, which received nearly 20 million views.

“When you talk about the right movies at the right time, and you have a genuine fan voice, that content can go much further than anyone expects.”

However, Kelly continues, “We don’t write a lot of reviews or casting news, we try to make everything interesting and social and fun — if someone’s been cast in a movie, then what we’re asking is why is that important and what does that mean for the movie and what will it look like.”

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Moviepilot also has a weekly column in Variety to predict weekend box office based on social buzz, largely as the result of in-house tools such as Tower, which measure shares and social interaction, as well as Q, which gauges sentiment and demographic data across multiple social platforms, (and can even show other interests for these audiences, such as music acts or consumer package goods, which creates a social profile for what kind of audience will support the movie most).

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This data also enables Movie Pilot to help get a handle on what their own audience wants, and to help studio clients find and understand their audiences, to hone their social messages / marketing campaigns for everything from Wild and Gone Girl to X-Men and Birdman to tons more in between.

Moviepilot has built its revenues while running on a $7 million Series A raised back in 2012. “We’ve kept the team small but we want to grow this year in a really big way. We really believe in hard working creative people. Everyone is well looked after — a small focused team doing great work.”

For a list of current job openings at Moviepilot, click here

As for the future, Kelly is really looking forward to Comic-Con: “We want to meet everyone there, we have some very cool events lined up — we’re flying some of our top fans in for the event, but more on that in the months to come.”

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Author Description

Scott Perry -- LA Tech Digest founder

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