Social media marketing.
Few words strike quite as much dread in a filmmaker’s heart than these, save for perhaps “film business plan,” but today we’re going to cut through the noise and help you get to grips with this essential task (even if you’re fresh out of filmmaking school.)
Each different social media platform comes with its own best practices and foibles, but here are eight surefire tips that work across the board when it comes to marketing your film using social media.
1. Be Personal
Unless you’ve been entrusted with running the official Twitter feed for Sony Pictures, you don’t need to adopt an ultra-formal tone.
People are more likely to respond positively to other people rather than corporate entities. For that reason, it’s even preferential to write in first person on social media (unless it’s a large group project), but at the very least make sure people know there’s a real person behind the account, and who that person is via the bio.
2. Give Something Back
You don’t want to lose the followers you’ve fought hard to attract, and you want to attract as many as possible.
To facilitate this, make sure you give something back to those who do take the time out to follow you—either physically via giveaways, or with exclusives to behind-the-scenes footage, cast interviews, desktop wallpapers and movie poster downloads… anything really, as long as your feed isn’t full of requests asking fans to do things for you (or repeated pleas for more followers.) That’s not likely to get the casual browser to hit that “follow” button.
3. Cast Takeovers
This idea works particularly on Twitter, in which you have one of the cast members take control of the movie’s official account to host a Q&A with followers. It may sound daunting, but trolls are few and far between (and there’s a mute button for that reason.) 99% of the time it’s a really fun experience for everyone involved, generates a lot of buzz, and lets fans know you’re keen to connect with them on a personal level.
4. Share Smart Content
Obviously sharing thing that will inflame the imaginations of your followers is social media 101, but how best to find said content in the first place?
Don’t overlook Google News; set up a few notifications for topics related to your movie, and you can be among the first to share it the second something intriguing lands in your inbox.
If you know where to look, there are plenty of online tools and resources to help you craft and customize your content, like Canva and their free Online Facebook Ad Maker.
And an even better tactic is to share content you’ve created yourself—if that blog post, infographic, quiz, movie poster, or other piece of interesting content is hosted on your movie’s official website, you’re sending people in the right direction by sharing it!
5. Consider Outsourcing
If the thought of juggling myriad social media accounts and put into practice all of the above sounds daunting—or you simply don’t have the time—then don’t throw out the idea of hiring an expert if you’ve got the budget for it. After all, your time probably is better spent doing what you do best. That said…
6. Ask Questions
Before you let anyone near your social media accounts, draw up a long and detailed list of questions that they should be able to answer in full, especially when it comes to which films they’ve worked on before (they could be the best social media managers on the planet, but if they don’t know a lick about movie marketing, they won’t be much good to you.) Even once you’ve found someone you can trust implicitly with representing you and your movie online, do check in from time to time and make sure everything is going in the right direction.
7. Plan Your Budget
You may be thinking that you can skip budget planning if you’re going DIY with your social media management, but you’ll still be selling yourself short not to allocate some funding in your business plan for exposure.
You can get very far without spending a dime as long as you’re willing to pour a lot of time into it, but eventually it’s a case of diminishing returns. Consider throwing just a little money behind paid ads and sponsored posts (particularly on Facebook, through which it’s becoming increasingly tricky to reach even your own followers.)
8. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Marketing your film on social media might sound like a mammoth task, and if you look at it on a macro scale, it can be.
But don’t let hesitation keep you from getting your hands dirty. Unless you’re explicitly going out to spam and harass people (don’t), there’s not a lot of harm you can do by getting out there and experimenting. Conversely, you’re hamstringing yourself if you never actually start…
… so fire up the social machine, treat people like fellow human beings, have fun and good luck!