Oneupweb : Harry Potter and the Worldly Online Buzz

At 10:30 PM on July 14th, I found myself in a place I never thought I’d be—sitting amongst countless pre-teens, all dressed as if they were on a field trip to the movie theatre from Hogwarts. That’s right, I was awaiting the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II. I had never read a single book in the series and the only movie I had seen was the 4th one…or maybe it was the 5th (whichever one Robert Pattinson died in), so needless to say, I wasn’t “qualified” to be in such an environment.

I was convinced to attend the premier by a true Potter-fanatic (complete with the Sword of Gryffindor, hanging in the guest room). I somewhat knew what I was getting into, so I did some film prep in the days prior—watching the first movie on Tuesday, getting a full synopsis of books 2-5 in one car ride home from dinner on Wednesday, and finally finishing the most recent movie, Deathly Hallows, Part I, on Thursday before the premiere. I was ready for the movie, but not the hour and a half of sitting in a sold-out theatre with house elves, Hogwarts students, a few Dumbledores, and one elaborately dressed Hogwarts professor. Thank goodness for Angry Birds and people watching—but that’s beside the point.

Like any other huge event, I like to see the online buzz and search behavior around the offline mania. First, I hop on over to Google Trends, and search [harry potter] for all regions and all years. This gives me a quick snapshot of Harry’s online wizard reach (data begins in 2004).

The peak labeled “A” refers to the book release of The Half-Blood Prince while C and D correspond to the release of the 6th and 7th movies. Peak B is a combination of both film release of The Order of the Phoenix and the release of the 7th and final book in July of 2007.

At a more local level, with Google Insights for Search, I can adjust my search to view the online buzz around Harry within the United States only. What state can’t get enough Potter? You guessed it, Utah—followed by Michigan and Ohio (side note: Traverse City was 3rd within Michigan—not bad). Apparently, Utah loves Harry Potter, who knew?

Action on Twitter, courtesy of Trendistic, revealed a lot of rude movie-goers, with HP tweets hitting a high between 12:00-2:00 AM on July 15th during the United States premier (the July 7th peak was the London premier).

Finally, you can’t talk about Harry Potter online buzz without mentioning Pottermore. Up until recently, Pottermore was surrounded with mystery and intrigue, because all that Potter fans knew was that it was a site directly from J.K. Rowling. Would it be gaming? A promotion for some sort of new book? Actually, it is “a free website that builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books.” The site opens to everyone in October with the option to submit your email for an early heads up.

So, there you have it. Not only did I stay up until 2:30 in the morning to watch a movie I barely knew anything about, but I just wrote an entire blog post about it. I’ll never understand it, maybe because I’m just a Muggle, but I don’t need to look into the Mirror of Erised to see that generating online buzz around your offline events is essential to an effective digital marketing campaign.