One of the common mistakes new filmmakers make is budgeting for pre-production, production, and post-production only to quickly run out of money when it comes to marketing. Nowadays, when almost everyone is on social media, making digital marketing a critical part of the filmmaking process.
It doesn’t matter how great your film is; if nobody comes to see it, you’re not going to make any money. That means a lot of unhappy investors and an incredibly difficult time in the reputation-based economy of securing backers for your next film. These five tips will help prevent this kind of disaster from ruining your career.
Social Media is Your Friend
When it comes to digital marketing, social media can be your best friend or your greatest enemy. If you go out and try to produce memes with the message of how great your film is, you’re going to get crushed by the anti-corporate counter-culture that’s everywhere in social media.
On the other hand, if you use social media to reach out to followers and potential viewers of your product through less surreptitious means, you significantly increase the odds of engagement.
Of course, using social media well is more of an art than a science and navigating the fine line between advancing your corporate interests and being a corporate shill can be quite tricky. The safest bet is typically to save a couple thousand dollars and hire a social media marketing manager to run your accounts during post.
Use Your Actors
Actors can be some of the most important marketing “tools” at your disposal. In less harsh words, your actors can use their social media accounts to spread word of your production to thousands of people who already hang off of their every word.
While the strategy of carefully planning posts and allowing your actors to ramp up support for the film tends to work better when casting bigger names, the practice still works on even the smallest levels.
Let’s assume that you just produced your first film with a lean budget of $10,000. You’re likely not going to be casting Mark Ruffalo for the lead. That said, your cast–which is most likely full of acting students from the local arts college–can still get the word out and potentially convince their closer friends and family members to attend the screenings.
Trade shows, galas, the list goes on. If you’re living in Las Vegas, Las Angeles, or New York City, you’re in luck. There are events everywhere at seemingly all hours of the day, ripe for targeted advertising.
This is a strategy typically employed by salespeople and corporate interests, but the general gist of things translates well to the film industry. We oftentimes don’t like to admit it, but you have to have profit in mind if you’re going to continue making films.
By going where the famous people go and appearing in the background of their images, your brand can gain name-recognition and increase readership on your social media accounts, particularly if your models make a good enough impression to land your film a tag from a high-profile account.
Stick to a Content Schedule
Regardless of however you’re getting your content out, what’s important is that you produce it frequently and consistently.
That means creating a content schedule and sticking to it. For platforms like Youtube, that typically means posting content once a week; however, for platforms like Twitter, that could mean multiple times a week. What’s important is to find the sweet spot between posting too much and too little content.
You can do so by conducting a social media competitive analysis. For your film, that likely just means checking out what other filmmakers did for their projects with similar budgets in the same genre.
Of course, consistency is just as important. By creating a content schedule and sticking to it, you reduce the likelihood of “dumping” an absurd amount of content when you’re free and going weeks without so much as a peep when you’re busy, problems common to any “post as you go” model.
In 2019, there really isn’t anybody left in the film industry who still needs to be reminded that diversity is the key to success. That is, unless you’re talking about social media platforms. For some reason, many new filmmakers still stick to one or two platforms and wonder why they’re not generating any significant outreach.
In our modern day and age, there are more than a dozen social media platforms that reign supreme and it is critically important that filmmakers have multiple social media accounts spread across at least three of them. At the very least, you need to split your time between the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (the Big Four).
By spreading out between multiple different platforms, you increase the odds of reaching people who only use one or two platforms. For example, if somebody only uses Twitter but you only advertise on Facebook and Instagram, you’re going to miss out on that person’s attendance at your screenings.
When it comes down to brass tacks, you might want to listen to your producer’s seemingly incessant griping about budgeting. With the advent of social media and the rise in its importance for digital marketing in the world of film, the timeless battle between directors and producers has only become more heated.
Do you spend that money on special effects or do you spend it on advertising? Well, it all comes down to the question of whether or not you want people to see your film.
At the end of the day, nobody can show up if nobody knows where the screening is.