Why Hoping to Go Viral is Like Waiting For a Fairytale Prince

Why hoping to go viral is like waiting for a fairytale prince

A note: while I’ve used the concept of a fairytale prince, you can substitute it for ‘princess’, ‘Iron Man’, or a gender-neutral savior…whatever suits you- the point is, you’re waiting to be saved! Now, carry on…

Gangnam Style. The Harlem Shake. Rebecca Black’s Friday. Chocolate Rain. They shared, we shared, they went viral, we moved onto the next viral hit. One of the things I’m asked most is “can you make me go viral?”, which ultimately gets a hard “no” from me. Why?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to go viral. The prospect of having your work go viral is exciting, right? But keep in mind the fact that just like having the ‘flu (which is a virus), the infectiousness of your viral content will pass, too. Add to the fact that, according to Socialbakers’ Jan Rezab the lifespan of virality is on the decline thanks to social media going mainstream and hoping to go viral is basically like waiting for a fairytale prince. Not convinced? Read Jan’s post Stop Trying to Go Viral on Recode- he gives evidence but also gives some fantastic alternatives that really work.

Add to that the fact that since the advent of social media in the mainstream there has been a consistent and steady stream of content available to the public, and it’s harder to make a dent virally. Even Tay Zonday of Chocolate Rain fame thinks that it’s more difficult to go viral now than back in 2007.

If you use virality as a sole benchmark for the success of your work, you’re going to end up feeling pretty bad about things- not because your work isn’t great, but because virality is so unpredictable and on the decline. There’s also this myth that going viral means you become an overnight success and everything is peachy keen. That can happen for some, but the experience is different in every case.

I always say to people when it comes to building an audience for their content: “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Even though virality is juicy and attractive and seems like the goose that laid the golden egg, it’s less valuable in the long-term. As with any relationship-building, it takes time and care. You can’t just throw any content out there willy-nilly and hope it sticks. Experiment. See what your audience resonates with, and what they’re not so keen on. Keep tabs on engagement levels and what your audience is saying about your work. And most importantly, let them know that you appreciate their shares, comments and support. Build a solid foundation for your work and your brand and you will reap more consistent benefits than a moment of overnight success with a viral video.

Making E-mail Marketing Part of Your Film’s Publicity Strategy

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Back in the late 90’s I created my first e-mail newsletter. It was a film news and reviews newsletter, very basic and in plain text. I gained subscribers through friends and acquaintances. Before long, I had around 300 subscribers- not many in today’s terms, but not bad! I would scour the Internet for film news, do reviews of favourite films, and so on. When I look back, it was sort of a foreshadowing of what I do now!

E-mail marketing has thankfully come a long way from my rudimentary attempt in the 1990s, and it’s something that can be extremely useful for connecting with your audience as an independent filmmaker. It can also be integrated into your film’s publicity strategy in some very fun ways.

If you’ve had the experience of crowdfunding before, you’ll know that many of the various crowdfunding platforms provide a space for updates. When you post an update on your crowdfunding page, it’s also e-mailed to donors who contributed to your campaign. E-mail marketing is not all that different to providing those updates on your crowdfunding page. If you haven’t had the experience of providing updates to crowdfunding donors- no worries! E-mail marketing is easy, it can be incredibly fun and is a great asset to have as part of your film’s publicity strategy.

Where do I start?

It’s a good idea to pick an email marketing platform, like Sendlane or Mailchimp. I don’t recommend just sending out e-mails from your e-mail account as people won’t have the option to opt out of receiving your e-mails unless they e-mail you back. Email marketing platforms generally have the option of a free account provided you have under a certain amount of subscribers which is perfect for when you’re just starting out.

In order to grow your subscribers you can create a landing page for your film’s website or share the link to a sign-up form via your social media accounts.

email marketing for filmmakers

What about content?

When it comes to the content of your newsletter, the choices are endless! Here’s a few ideas:

  • Provide subscriber-only exclusives, like behind-the-scenes videos or giveaways (signed film posters, a prop from the film, etc)
  • Update subscribers with the film’s progress via short vlogs that can then be re-purposed via social media at a later date
  • Mobilise your subscribers to spread the word about the film (especially in the lead-up to release) by providing them with digital assets they can use on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These can be housed in a dropbox and subscribers can download them via a link in your newsletter. You can also provide sample tweets they can copy and paste
  • Let people into your filmmaking world: is music particularly important to your process? Share a list of songs or albums that have influenced you. Found resources that you know fellow filmmakers and filmmaking fans would love? Share them!

Experiment. Have fun. See where the mood takes you and what your audience responds to. It’s another way to connect with your audience from production onwards in an intimate and rewarding way.

And speaking of mailing lists….yes, we have one now. Sign up to our mailing list to receive film publicity, social media marketing and crowdfunding hints and tips, exclusive content, and occasional FREE resources. You’ll also be the first to be notified of discounted service rates. You can sign up HERE.

Strategies For Reluctant Self-Promoters

strategies for reluctant self-promoters

I can honestly say that I owe about 99% of the opportunities I’ve had in my career to being a smartarse.

And I don’t mean being a smartarse in a disrespectful way, but some of the biggest and most exciting opportunities in my life have arisen because I’ve been cheeky enough to ask for them in a playful way that doesn’t come off as pushy. This isn’t something that would work for everyone, but that’s my schtick. I pretty much live my life on the verge of telling a joke anyway, so using my sense of humour (and my cheekiness!) have become second nature.

It’s something I’ve had to develop over many years, because to be completely honest I’m very much a reluctant self-promoter. Part of it stems from the fact that here in New Zealand we’re not big on tooting our own horn. Part of it is because I’m very much an introvert, and while I can bring the energy for presenting a workshop or networking events, I need at least a day to recover afterwards. Introversion isn’t a hindrance to things like networking and self-promotion, but it needs careful consideration when it comes to utilising your energy resources and being at your best (I’m sure many of you can relate).

In the work that I do, I get to talk to a lot of filmmakers about their work, and I often hear them express the difficulty they have in self-promoting their work. Sometimes there is a reluctance in reaching out to people for donations to their crowdfunding campaigns,  promoting on social media or reaching out to media outlets to secure coverage or a review. It’s something I understand- sometimes it’s not easy! But your work deserves to be seen and appreciated.

Better yet, the information age provides filmmakers with a variety of opportunities to connect with their audiences in ways that were not previously available prior to the Internet going mainstream and the development of social media. The world is literally at your fingertips.

So, how can you grow your audience and promote yourself and your work if you’re really reluctant? I have some strategies that may help- they’re the same ones I have used over the years successfully:

camera strategies for reluctant self promoters

Work out what’s stopping you: chances are, when you think about promoting your work, you’ll have thoughts and/or feelings that arise over it. It’s a good idea to really drill down and find out why you’re reluctant to promote your work. Find 5-10 minutes in your day to sit undisturbed with a pen and paper or your laptop with a word processing document open and ready. Take a few deep breaths, focusing on each breath and clearing your mind. When you’re ready, think about self-promotion of yourself or your work and identify any thoughts or feelings that come up around it. Write them down.

Now that you’ve got your list, look at what you wrote. Here’s where it gets interesting! Step outside of yourself for a minute and imagine that it’s your best friend thinking and feeling these things. For each thought or feeling, write a statement that refutes that thought or feeling. For instance, if this thought came up:

“Nobody gives a damn about independent filmmakers and their films”

You might write:

“Who is this ‘nobody’? There are plenty of people who are passionate about independent filmmakers and their films. You will find those people when you connect with your audience.”

Do this for each thought or feeling. It sounds silly, but it really does work!

Take approaches that you’re comfortable with: perhaps you’re not comfortable with social media, but have someone on your team that is and can provide social media assistance. If you’re more comfortable reaching out to media outlets via e-mail, then that’s completely fine! The same applies when you’re crowdfunding your project: if you’re not comfortable with social media, you may want to approach people individually or via your mailing list.

Authenticity is key: you don’t have to be anyone else. You don’t have to try and put on airs and graces with people. Being yourself and sharing your passion for your filmmaking well and truly resonates with your audience. People are passionate about filmmaking, so let them into your world and your process.

You don’t have to do it all at once: while it’s a good idea to have your social media presence established and also tap into resources for publicity of your filmmaking, you don’t have to do it all at once! If it’s easier for you to start with one thing and then add other strategies later, then do so. After all, good things take time!

Strategies for Reluctant Self-Promoters film sprites pr

Remember your WHY: I say this so often with different scenarios because it’s applicable across the board. If you start to feel really reluctant about promoting your work yourself, remember WHY you started filmmaking in the first place. This helps to not only bring you back to your centre, but it also provides a boost of inspiration to propel you forward through your reluctance.

Happy filmmaking!

How Bloggers and Podcasters Can Assist With Your Film

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Here at Film Sprites PR we are huge advocates of bloggers and podcasters. In the digital age one thing is certain: if you have an interest, there’s a blog or podcast for you. No matter whether you’re an avid hockey fan, a Whovian or love Himalayan cats, there’s content on the Internet that’s sure to be of interest.

If you’re a filmmaker you can probably tell me straight away which mainstream publications you’d want to see coverage about your film to appear in. But it’s worth remembering that film blogs and podcasts are just as valuable in terms of gaining exposure and reaching your audience. Here’s a few reasons why bloggers and podcasters can assist with your film’s exposure:

You’re connecting directly to your audience: not only are there many film blogs/podcasts out there, there are genre-specific ones. What better way to reach your target audience? Whether you’ve got a spine-tingling horror, a heartfelt indie drama or an epic sci-fi feature you can find an audience and cut through the static.

Blogs and podcasts can have more flexible editorial time frames: whereas mainstream outlets can have their editorial calendars booked well in advance, bloggers and podcasters can be more flexible when it comes to posting content. It’s always best to have an interview or feature lined up in advance of a release or crowdfunding campaign regardless of which media outlet you are approaching but blogs and podcasts do have a tendency to accommodate inquiries about features/interviews/reviews at shorter notice.

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There are indie film-loving bloggers and podcasters: there are some incredible blogs/podcasts dedicated solely to the world of independent film and they always welcome new content. Whether you’re promoting your first independent film or your fifty-first, the world of blogs and podcasts has an entire community that will help to champion your film. If they’re passionate enough about your work it can also mean receiving ongoing support from them as well, both on the podcast/blog and via social media. It also means you’re likely to receive cross-promotion on their social media channels when they post about your interview/feature/review.

…because most importantly….

It’s all about relationship building: no matter what, teaming up with podcasts/blogs to promote your film via features/interviews/reviews is helping to build a relationship with your audience. You should never underestimate the power of blogs and podcasts to reach your audience and help it to grow.

Want to know how we can assist you with publicity and digital marketing of your film? Download our services pamphlet HERE.

What 2016 Taught Me (And How It’s Changing Things At Film Sprites PR)

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Ahhh 2016. For so many people it’s been a Pandora’s Box of…well…hideousness.

At Film Sprites PR it’s been a mixed bag but I’m pleased to say it hasn’t been horrible. In fact, it’s been a very enjoyable year with lots of learning, progress and the ability to assist filmmakers with publicity and digital marketing of films around the world.

I don’t often write deeply personal posts, but today I make the exception.

Watching world events unfolding this year led me to some massive lightning bulb moments, all of which seemingly occurred in one straight week.

Firstly, I was inspired by the momentum and passion of the #NoDAPL movement.

Then, I was deeply moved when I saw the Tragically Hip lead singer and advocate for First Nations People in Canada being honored for his work around the impact of residential schools (you can see the film portion of his Secret Path project here).

Then, Film Sprites PR assisted a young female filmmaker called Daphne Fischer with the tail-end of her Kickstarter for her short film, Enough. The film aims to shed a light on the impact of eating disorders and body issues on young women. When I watched the pitch video and the accompanying shorts (one, an interview with young women about body image and the other a social experiment with Daphne herself), I knew we had to help. By the time the campaign finished yesterday it had not only reached the $6000 goal but had also received an additional $945 in funding.

So how did these things culminate in lightning bulb moments for me?

Firstly, I had been seemingly treading water for a very long time. As much as I love what we do here at Film Sprites PR, I was itching to make even more of an impact and make even more of a difference. Thus, in addition to all of the genre films we assist with publicity and digital marketing services, we’re also looking to have more of a social impact by also assisting the wide spectrum of projects I talked about in a previous post. Part of the reason is that connection is at the heart of what we do here at Film Sprites PR, and so connecting filmmakers with these types of content to a wider audience that will support them is a huge privilege. One of the things I discovered whilst assisting with the Enough Kickstarter (albeit for a short time) was that social impact films encourage people to share their experiences. It helps create a wider dialogue around an issue or a subject. It moves people to a purpose.

Many of you will know that I am a particularly outspoken advocate when it comes to ending the stigma around mental illness. Post-earthquake I had a very rough time with PTSD and since then I have chosen to speak out about it to show others that recovery is possible and that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. And Daphne Fischer herself experienced a 6 year battle with an eating disorder and chose to be open about it and channel that experience into making a short film that will hopefully have great impact.

Our lives are built around stories and experiences, and I wanted to be sure that Film Sprites PR assisted even more filmmakers with their own unique stories, viewpoints and experiences.

2017 is going to be the biggest year yet at Film Sprites PR, and I’m excited to see what happens!

Film Sprites PR will be closed from Dec 14, 2016 until January 14, 2017 for our Holiday break.