If you use Facebook and connected social media like Instagram, you have probably been affected by the recent outage. Outages often mean that social media marketing plans are revised as a result. Any automated posts you had planned become redundant…or worse yet, you have to re-post and/or re-plan once the outage is over! It’s proof that while we can have social media marketing as part of an overall publicity plan, social media (like traditional media) is not infallible.
If you receive distribution for your film, chances are the distribution company will do the PR and social media heavy lifting for you…but what happens if you have to self-distribute but still want to utilize publicity and social media marketing to connect with media and audiences? How do you plan a publicity budget and make the most of it?
I’m no expert, but I’ve worked with indie filmmakers just like you over the past 4 and a half years and regardless of the budget available, we’ve made it work very effectively. I think it helps that I grew up in an impoverished household. I saw how my mother was able to make do in miraculous ways. Needless to say, I’ve adopted that mindset when it comes to budgets of any kind. This is the way I approach publicity budgets and it’s a way that I’ve found works. You may have a better way, or adapt this to suit your purposes. There’s really no wrong way to do this.
Pre-production is the best time to start to grow your audience. Mainstream releases and tentpole films generally have the benefit of being able to secure coverage and have a built-in audience due to things like the cast, a known director, being part of a franchise, and more. It can be a lot harder for indie films and filmmakers to receive that sort of coverage…but it’s not impossible. It just takes a bit of strategic planning early on in production.
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.
Chances are, if you hop onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and check out the pages of indie filmmakers and their films, you may encounter posts about crowdfunding campaigns. Since the “early adopters” phase of crowdfunding in the early 2010s, filmmakers are looking at crowdfunding and various crowdfunding platforms to help assist them in funding their projects. In fact, Film Sprites PR started primarily by promoting and supporting crowdfunding campaigns for filmmaking. In the almost 4 years of operation, we’ve assisted with various successful campaigns (which you can read more about here if you’re so inclined), and the creation of Sprites came about after being inspired by Amanda Palmer’s TED talk, The Art of Asking. We’ve seen what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, and everything in between. There’s nothing more fantastic than seeing a filmmaker not just cross the 100% mark, but exceed it and be able to celebrate with their donors, fans, friends and family!
There are a now variety of crowdfunding platform choices available to filmmakers; from film and TV-based Seed & Spark, through to all-or-nothing crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and flexible funding like IndieGoGo. And while this array of platforms gives filmmakers various options for their crowdfunding campaigns, there are many benefits of crowdfunding campaigns which go above and beyond providing funds for filmmaking and webseries creation.
Over the years at Film Sprites PR, we’ve amassed a mountain of really useful resources for independent filmmakers; everything from graphic design lifesavers for your social media graphics, through to inexpensive (or free) ways to advertise your independent film to your audience. They’re all things we’ve been recommending to our clients, and now I want to share them with you. They’re not huge trade secrets- just things that we personally rave about and things that work.
In addition to these resources, we’re also including a ‘sanity saving’ section, additional books to add to your reading list, as well as some inspirational resources to help keep your momentum up. Let’s face it- every bit helps when you’re working hard for your dreams.
Social media is an incredible tool to help connect you to your film’s audience. But there are great ways of using it, and other social media habits that are…not so great. Those habits can annoy your followers, or at the very worst, get you blocked. There’s one thing I know unequivocally- nobody sets out to be annoying on social media (unless they’re trolls), so here I’m highlighting some of the habits that are seen as common irritants, and giving you solutions. It’s about working smarter, not harder and seeing the results.
And let me tell you, when I started out I did many of these things! It’s true! I don’t consider myself some sort of social media guru, but I have seen what works and what doesn’t through trial, error and evaluation, so I’m passing on what I’ve learned to you.
So, you have an amazing film and you want everyone to see it- of course! And while social media is the most immediate way of connecting with your audience, chances are you’re going to want to secure some reviews, features and interviews as well.
Recently we talked about how to pitch to media to secure coverage for your film via traditional (newspapers, print magazines, television and radio news) and new media (websites, blogs, podcasts). In it, we talked about the fact that in order to secure coverage, your pitch for your film needs to be newsworthy (you can see the criteria we used here). If you do your research with regards to your audience and their demographic, you can very easily use these newsworthiness criteria to assist your chances of gaining exposure for your film. The best way to highlight the newsworthy aspects of your film is via your press release. So how can you find the newsworthy aspects of your film in order to secure media coverage? We’re going to give you examples using the newsworthy criteria mentioned above.
In the post-production period, many films opt to crowdfund for post-production funds to finish the film, and this in itself can prove to be another opportunity to grow your social media audience and media exposure whilst securing your funds. If you’ve prepped thoroughly during pre-production through filming, chances are you have a wealth of materials available that you can use to let people know about the film, both on your crowdfunding page and via social media and regular media. People don’t like being bombarded with constant links to crowdfunding campaigns on social media, so if you can keep the consistent tone you have developed on your social media platforms from day one, you don’t run the risk of having people ‘switch off’ or unfollow. Yes, you can direct people to your crowdfunding campaign, but it doesn’t have to be done in a ‘salesy’ way.
It was the great Groucho Marx who said: “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read”. I’m hoping that anyone reading this post has not mastered reading inside a dog, but I think Groucho’s assessment of the magic of books is correct. And if you are an indie filmmaker, books can be a wise investment on your journey. Whether it’s technical texts or books to inspire, having a resource library at your disposal is very useful. Quite often when conversing with filmmakers, if there’s a book I know of that I think will be useful or that they will find interesting, I definitely make a recommendation. I also try and do an update on this subject on the blog as I find books that I know filmmakers, producers, people aspiring to work in the film industry, or entrepreneurs may find useful (and most importantly enjoyable).
Here’s an updated list of reading recommendations for filmmakers, people wanting to broaden their film industry knowledge base, entrepreneurs and dreamers everywhere.