So you’re an indie filmmaker. You’ve barely scraped enough money from your day job, your crowd-funding campaign, your parents—we won’t judge—to shoot your movie, and now you’re expected to take on yet another job title to get people to watch it? Well… yes. Welcome to the world of being a 21st century filmmaker/producer/editor/publicist.
It’s challenging to build an audience without a budget, but it’s possible, and social media has become a viable tool for many filmmakers.
Social media may be free, but it does take effort. Creating a Facebook page with one lonely film still just won’t cut it. If that’s all you’re willing to do, best to save your internet breath. As Film Independent’s Online Community Coordinator, I’ve been privy to numerous tactics used by filmmakers to sell and promote their projects. Some stand out, some make a great effort and some just don’t make sense.
Here are a few ways to make your Facebook presence mean something:
✓ Create a page, not a profile. A profile alone is fine for individuals, but companies, brands, bands, organizations and films should take the time to make a page. A page will give you access to analytics, allow you to “boost” (read: pay to promote) posts and generally make it easy for fans to connect with you. It takes away the need to approve requests and makes all the information you publish public.
✓ Make sure you’re ready to make it “Facebook official.” Once you create the customized URL for your Facebook page, there’s no turning back. So make sure your title is the final real-deal title before you make it “Facebook official.”
✓ Get by with a little help from your friends. Now that you’ve created a page, you need some fans. Start off with a solid base of friends and family by inviting them to “like” your page. Ask them to spread the word (in a genuine and gracious manner) and you’ll be off and running.
✓ Be all About it. The homepage for your page will have a section for a short description of what you (or your movie) are all about. Let people know! (Some admins don’t fill this section out at all. Huh?) On the “About” page, it’s a good idea to include a logline followed by a longer description. It gives people the information they need so that they can tell others about your movie. If folks want to spread the word, make it easy for them. And don’t forget to include a link to your film’s official web page! Don’t make me people have to Google it to find the official site.
✓ Make the most of photos. Photos tell the story, and they’re fun to look at. Facebook changes its practices often, particularly when it comes to photo specs, so make sure you keep up with them. Create your profile and cover photo using the official dimensions so they look sharp and professional. A blurry photo can make your brand (a.k.a. the film that you’ve poured your blood and sweat into) look amateur. Don’t stop at the profile and cover photos. Update photo albums regularly. Some suggested themes: cast/crew headshots, behind-the-scenes production photos, official film stills and shareable film stills with viral info (eg.“See MY FILM on July 4, 2014 www.myfilm.com”). Again, if people want to spread the word, make it easy for them.
✓ Make the most of the free stuff… Facebook lets you schedule posts and view the analytics behind them. Watch which posts get the most “likes” and comments and try to figure out why: maybe it’s the timing, the content or the way you present it. Insider’s tip: people love quotations and photos. Vary the content. Mix editorial posts (about how other movies inspired yours or highlight positive reviews) in between “Please go see my movie” pleas. Don’t forget to let people know when and where your movie is playing and include a link to purchase tickets. They want to know!
✓ …But pay once in a while, too. If there’s a particularly exciting event (eg: a Festival screening) to promote, it may be worth it to pay to “boost” your post. Depending on your number of fans, this can cost anywhere from $5 to upwards of $100. If you have it in your budget, give it a shot, and be sure to write an extra-clever or especially informative post. You’ll reach more people with minimal effort.
Some films that are doing it right:
By Jasmine Teran / Online Community Coordinator