Wednesday, March 30, 2011

7 Laws Of Social Media Success

As we independent filmmakers try to find the most effective ways to connect our films with potential audiences, new technologies emerge every day that seem to provide an added piece to the puzzle...but without making the picture any clearer. Success still seems to be spotty and good films still continue to struggle. But one thing is definitely clear, social media, for better or worse, is an integral part of any community/fan-based fundraising or marketing campaign. But how do we best utilize social media tools? Is it enough to have thousands of friends on Facebook? Clearly, it is not.

The key is not numbers, but the number of those "engaged". Meaning, these are people who actually care about what your status update or tweet says, or who may even go so far as to comment or post or retweet or take some other kind of action. The goal is to get them to take the action of buying/dowloading your film or supporting your IndieGoGo or Kickstarter campaign....or maybe even going to see the film if you are taking the old-school route of actually screening the film off-line.

So, how do we "engage" our social media contacts? And, indeed, engage them in a way that is relevant to our end goal of getting our film supported, watched and/or promoted. I wish I could give a definitive answer. But I think it is necessarily different for each film. The subject matter, style and tone of the film will help dictate the different ways you can draw people into the "campaign". I use the word campaign because generating interest in a film is very much like a political campaign. The film is a candidate and their ticket/DVD/download purchase is the vote for your candidate. And like a political candidate who stands on some kind of platform or set of ideals, your film has to mean more to its audience than just the film itself.

Keep in mind, this campaigning stuff is a lot of work. If this is not something you have the time and/or desire to do, - or, you consider yourself "just" a filmmaker, and suck at marketing, then you must engage somebody who will be excited to take all of this on. Use Jon Reiss's suggestion of bringing on a new kind of Producer (you create great reciprocal benefit for people if you give them meaningful titles)....The Producer of Marketing and Distribution.

That said, here are my on own less-than-expert 7 Laws Of Social Media Success one should consider - even if each film's social media campaign needs to be unique to the film:

1. Launch your boat in moving waters. Didn't mean to use a metaphor here, but I couldn't think of a more effective way to say it. Your film is like a boat you've built. And now you need to get it on the water and make sure it takes you where you want to go. It's smartest to launch the boat in waters (or with winds) that will most quickly and easily carry you in the direction you want to go. In regards to social media, that means launching a website, facebook page, tweet campaign, iphone app or any other social media tool in a way that allows your film to benefit from the thrust of an ongoing, perhaps even growing, concern. Is there anything in your film that can tap into a pre-existing community or movement. Is there social action being taken about a specific issue that pertains to your film? Is there an enthusiastic fanbase already in place for the type/genre of your film?.....Use your social media tools in a way that speaks to this particular community or movement. If possible, create formal relationships with groups/organizations that are central to this community or movement. But to do this, you need to be clear why connecting with your film is meaningful for them.

2. Create reciprocal benefit. You are asking something from your peeps, so you gotta provide something in return. This is where you communicate why connecting with your film is meaningful to your potential supporters/partners/audience. It's answering the basic question for them of "what's in it for me?". And the answer's gotta be more than "You get to watch MY film!"....Unless your film is REALLY something special and that fact has been made obvious by more than just you, your family and your friends.......Do they become part of some exciting and important movement? In what way? Is the film tucked into some really fun and/or inspiring event? Do they get a gift? Do they get a discount? Are they connected with a very cool, but otherwise inaccessible community? Think long and hard about this. There must be something or some group of things that make connecting with your film something special and worthwhile.

3. Find/create reasons for your peeps to engage and provide the corresponding tools of engagement. You want your potential supporters/partners/audience to step forward in some proactive manner, not just accepting you as a "friend" or subscribing to your tweets. Give them stuff to "do". Essentially, you want to create a landscape of interactivity that leads to the purchase or support of your film. It's like laying a trail of crumbs for your audience to follow. Even if you are doing an esoteric art film, there are lots of clever and fun ways to excite your potential supporters/partners/audience to take action that leads to the support/purchase of your film. Invite comments/reviews/ratings on your posts. Upload or post things that they are motivated to share. Is there a game or quiz you can create related to your film? Can you create a cool, fun phone app (appropriate to the content/tone of your film)? Can you do a contest? Can you create a micro-event and/or community-based offline event they can be involved in? Be as creative with these ideas as you were with the making of your film. And make sure you provide clear and working links/buttons/apps/downloads/tools/etc. that allow them to take action swiftly and easily.

4. Start early. Start your campaigns early. In fact, give yourself lots of time to pre-campaign - develop "friends" and "followers", access/build email lists, forge agreements with partners, etc. After that, give yourself plenty of time to develop/launch anything you are planning. Finally, give yourself time for it to catch on. You can build an awesome website and create all kinds of cool iPhone apps, but none of that is fully effective if it all comes together with little time to catch fire before your Kickstarter campaign ends, your film opens (online or off) or any other key target date.

5. Be clear and direct. Again, you are asking your people for something. Don't pussyfoot around that fact. So you need to be clear in all of your communication with them. Be clear about what you are asking for, why you are asking for it and why they should give it to you. Also, be clear about how they can give you what you are asking for. Make everything as clear and easy as possible for your peeps. Take the guesswork out of EVERYTHING. That includes posts, links, uploads or anything else you float in front of their overwhelmed eyes.

6. Don't be too aggressive/desperate. It's just like dating, folks. You have to win them over. Even seduce them a bit. Charm and humor (when appropriate) are huge assets - as are passion and sincerity. However, you have to keep your passion under control so that it does not cross the line into aggression/desperation. In general, respect the fact that your audience has their own life and it may not revolve around your movie - no matter how desperate your own circumstances may be. Sometimes pleading works, but it is NOT a good strategy.

7. Don't waste people's time. Perhaps more precious than people's money is their time. If you waste their time, they might logically assume you'll also waste their money. Engage them as efficiently as possible. Keep communications to the point. Do not bombard them with too much stuff. Certainly, don't overwhelm them with irrelevant tweets. Make sure everything you post and/or send is in working order. Do not make them click through 50 things to get to the thing you truly want them to reach. Keep everything sharp, crisp and well-functioning so that your peeps feel the respect you have for them and their time.

There you have it. But, as I said, I'm no expert. These are just general observations. But like all of my observations, I'm convinced they should be gospel. :)

However, if you want to get some info from a real expert, check out this email I got my friend, Marc Rosenbush, a smart, marketing-savvy filmmaker who has become a guru of sorts to other filmmakers trying to build and audience for their films.

Dear Filmmaker,

Making it as an independent filmmaker in this market is harder than it's ever been. So I'm not going to bother being subtle in this email because you NEED this information if you're going to survive and succeed.

To make it as a filmmaker you need only ONE thing...

Fans. TONS of fans.

And I'm going to show you how to get them.

If you want to build a MASSIVE, TARGETED AUDIENCE for your film, you need to watch this video right now:

Then make sure to use the coupon code:


To take advantage of a killer deal I'm only offering to the "insiders" on the Internet Marketing for Filmmakers mailing list.

The offer is only good until Monday, so watch the video now to find out about the most comprehensive, most cutting-edge audience-building strategy I've ever taught.

See you on the other side,


1 comment:

  1. I hope those are affiliate links Jacques, cause you likely just put some money in Mark's pocket.