This automated DVD rental retailer has made great strides in recent years, practically turning the video rental (and post-theater) industry on its head. In fact, redbox is so popular and growing so quickly that even some of the largest Hollywood studios are feeling threatened by its value proposition in the space.
Though the success of the service itself is reason enough for little red machines to keep popping up on every corner, social media also seems to be playing into the strengths of the DVD rental company.
Getting started in social media
Last summer redbox started its “Free Movie Mondays,” a promotion where an alphanumeric code was distributed on Monday afternoons that could be used to redeem a free rental. Because the same code was used for everyone, fans of the service did whatever they could to spread the word about redbox’s great deal—posting codes on Facebook, tweeting them to friends, and even putting sticky notes on the rental machines themselves. One technologist in Kansas City even went so far as to set up a Twitter account for redbox that would automatically tweet the new code on Mondays.
As the promotion succeeded and more people learned about redbox, it didn’t take long for the company to rethink its strategy. redbox eventually went on to take over the redbox Twitter account (discontinuing the practice of tweeting codes), plus they started a blog where they could directly engage with fans: the redblog. This is the stage that many companies are in today; they are just beginning to test the waters of social media and are doing lots of experimentation. redbox posts regular reviews of upcoming and released titles, but also uses it as a platform to highlight and promote its fans.
Adapting to the real-time world
While redbox is doing a great job with supporting its community through social media, it seems as though redbox underestimated how much fans really loved their service. While the “Free Movie Mondays” used to occur on every Monday, redbox recently scaled the promo back to the first Monday of the month only—likely a business decision more than anything (can you imagine how much they lose in rental fees by offering a free night?). And even more recently, redbox made another update to its free rental SMS campaign, stating that all SMS users would now be receiving their own unique codes. The move to less frequent and unique codes says to me that social media did its job too well: allowing friends to share information (including rental codes) with one another in real-time.
While social media has allowed their business to grow and to provide an effective means for friends to share their love of the service, it also served as a tool that would undermine its core business model: getting people to pay for DVD rentals.
With the recent changes to the free rental promotion and redbox’s continued community efforts in social media, this company is likely to continue growing for a long time.
Have you seen situations where social media worked so harmoniously that it was viewed as working too well? How would you advise redbox to leverage social media to the benefit of their business?