What to do When Social Media Outages Affect Your Film’s Marketing Plans

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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.

The recent outage provided a shared moment that was relatable to anyone who uses Facebook and Instagram. So here’s an idea you can use today: you might want to find some clever way to integrate it into your social media posts. The more something is relatable and resonates with an audience, the more engagement it will receive and the more likely your post will be shared. Remember when Kim Kardashian broke the Internet? Think about how YOU ‘broke the Internet’ today and run with it. In Sprites’ case, the outages happened after ALICE, the film we’ve been providing social media marketing for, won the Narrative Feature Award and CherryPicks First Female Feature Award at SXSW. ALICE broke the Internet!

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But what happens if you’re running a crowdfunding campaign when an outage happens on social? I’ve had this happen several times in the 7 years I’ve been assisting with crowdfunding campaigns, and while it’s not ideal you can work around it to make sure that you can still make the most of it. You may want to expand on the previous idea and use it as a call to action with your mailing list. If one platform is unavailable, channel your social media marketing efforts into the platforms you still have available to you at the time. Time really is money with a crowdfunding campaign!

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If you have a release that is affected by the outage, the above suggestions definitely apply- when you don’t have access to certain social media platforms during an outage, concentrate on the social media platforms where your film has a presence that are still available to you. You can always repurpose any content you had planned during an outage at a later date while still keeping the remainder of the social media marketing plan active and current.

Most importantly, if you have the time available to you…get away from the screen! This morning before I started my hours at Boosted, I could see how the outages were affecting my workflow when it came to social media marketing for Sprites clients…so I walked away. I went outside with a cup of coffee and watched the world go by so that when I returned to the computer I would be fresh as a daisy and raring to go.

Outages are awful, but unavoidable. It’s a reminder that no system is perfect!

Film PR and Social Media Resolutions to Make (and Habits to Break) in 2019

2019 resolutions film publicity and social media

It’s that time of year again…we’re in that weird period between Christmas and New Years, we’re reflecting on the year that was and looking towards the horizon of 12 fresh, new months. And, if you’re anything like our household the remnants of the Christmas choccy boxes contain those horrible hard caramels nobody seems to like!

While you’re thinking about all the personal and professional goals you have for 2019, it’s a good time to also think about what you want to achieve with regards to your film or webseries’ publicity and social media. Film publicity and social media marketing is, sadly, something that takes a back seat when it comes to production. There’s a misconception that PR and social media for your film is something that needs to be thought about solely on release when in reality it’s something that can be utilised throughout production to help grow your audience and awareness of your film.

With that in mind, I’m going to give you some resolutions to make (and habits to break) in 2019 that will help you feel confident about publicity and social media marketing of your film or webseries and assist you in supporting your other filmmaking and production goals.

Create a Publicity Budget

Publicity budget

Money’s always tight when it comes to indie filmmaking, but successful publicity and social media marketing is always a mix of earned media (shares, mentions, posts, reviews, interviews), owned media (website, social media channels) and paid media (social media ads, promotional content, advertising). Can you do without paid media? Certainly, but if you want to have a more strategic reach (i.e. reaching your audience in areas where your film will be shown, or connecting with fan bases aligned with yours or that of your actors), paid media is also a big help.

In the coming weeks we’ll talk more about creating a publicity budget that doesn’t break the bank.

Get Sorted on the Socials

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If you don’t have a social media presence yet, now’s the time to get it sorted. Having a social media presence means you can grow your audience, connect with fans and prep fans and followers for up-coming and future releases. Check out our post answering frequently asked questions about social media for filmmakers to find out more about making the most of social media for your filmmaking.

Learn a New Publicity or Social Media Marketing Skill

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As you will know, indie filmmaking is like a small village: there’s a community on board that rolls up their sleeves and takes on various roles. Chances are, you’re wearing more than one hat in your filmmaking right now, be it editing, producing, or design. With that in mind, if you don’t have the ability to hire a publicist or social media marketing person, it’s a good idea to level up by learning something new about publicity or social marketing. Whether you hit the blogs to find out about trends in social media for 2019 or take a quick course, you will definitely benefit from the time you spend learning something new. Our blog is packed with juicy info to help you out if you don’t have the budget to hire an outside publicist and is based on information that’s of most use to indie filmmakers, based on 5 years of running Film Sprites PR.

What about habits to break in 2019? Here’s a few things to think about ditching!

Hoping to Go Viral

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The social media landscape has changed significantly since the start of the 2010s. In 5 years of operating Film Sprites PR I’ve seen massive changes in the way people consume their media (including a jump to streaming services and a push towards greater self-distribution), including the way people consume their social media. Whereas going viral used to be a golden goose for creatives, it’s now less effective and harder to achieve. If you’re waiting to go viral it’s effectively like a fairytale character waiting to be saved by a white knight or a prince. Instead, work towards creating a sustainable presence and building your audience and community. That lasts longer and is more meaningful than going viral.

Having Social Media Accounts For Every Short Film

It’s tempting to create new social media pages and accounts every time you have a new short film out, but this is something that is time consuming and less effective than if you have social media accounts which provide a platform for all of your work. The issue with creating multiple accounts for different projects (especially with regards to short film) is that once you’ve completed and screened or streamed your film (and done the awards circuit), chances are you may not use those accounts again. They will be sitting on the Internet like a dead end. Plus, people who loved that particular film may not realise that you have other films in production.

A more efficient thing to do is to have social media accounts that can encompass all of your work. Whether you set up social media accounts in your name as a filmmaker or under your production company’s umbrella, you can continue to invest in those social media accounts for years to come and mobilise your fans to support you, share your content and see your films.

Making These Social Media Snafus

annoying on social media

Social media is such a powerful tool when used effectively, but when it goes wrong it goes badly wrong. You want to connect with your audience, not annoy them! Check out our list of the most annoying things you can do on social media when promoting your film, as well as the alternatives we’ve suggested.

Wishing you a very productive, inspiring 2019. As a thank you, I’m giving you Getting Prepped for 2019, a handy guide on when to generate publicity and digital marketing for your indie film or webseries. It also includes a timeline you can either print out or modify to help you to plan everything out and have it at your fingertips! You can download this guide HERE.

Making Your Filmmaking Journey Matter to Your Audience

 

making your filmmaking journey matter to your audience

Recently, I was pleased to see that The Power of Myth was added to Netflix NZ/Aus. This PBS series featuring Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers is truly powerful stuff. You may be familiar with Campbell’s Hero’s Journey template. You may have even found yourself utilizing it if you are a filmmaker. It’s a reminder of the commonality of themes and stages in myth and storytelling, as well as in life.

Don’t worry- we’re not going to get deep into Hero’s Journey territory here, but we are going to look at how your own filmmaking journey can inspire your film’s audience, and how to utilize that to great effect.

Our world is a tapestry of complex stories, of narratives and viewpoints. The advent of social media has provided more people with the means to bringing their own personal story to the world. I was in college when the Arab Spring happened. In decades past, uprisings would be told to the world through traditional media, with these events then being relegated to history. But with the Arab Spring people were taking to social media to let the world know what was happening.

At the time I was learning about the political economy of the mass media and the media conglomerates who had shares in media outlets. That landscape was beginning to change in real-time even as I was learning about it. Back then I got the sense that something very important was happening in the way we receive information about the world. People could tell their story in real-time and receive real-time feedback. Obviously, that’s a really broad statement because it doesn’t take into account some of the inequalities faced by people in different areas of the world (financially or due to censorship), but that’s how I saw it at the time.

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As a filmmaker, you know the importance of stories- after all, you’ve had one (or more) play out in front of the camera! Telling the story of your film (behind-the-scenes details, work in progress, etc) is something that can be used with good effect to connect with media and audiences…but sharing your own personal filmmaking journey can also be incredibly powerful and compelling.

Now, I’m not suggesting you share all of your dirty laundry. You don’t have to get that personal. But the hardships, obstacles and sweat equity that goes into any endeavour can be truly inspiring. Pick one successful person in history and look at their story. I can guarantee you it wasn’t smooth sailing the whole way. Just like with the Hero’s Journey, there were tests and stages. I once heard a successful nanotechnologist say that success isn’t a straight line, it’s more a wiggly one. People are inspired by hard work and struggle. After all, Steve Jobs ended up with two biopics for a good reason- his path wasn’t always smooth sailing. He got fired from his own company. He had an incredible phoenix moment with Apple in the late 90s- early 2000s.

So….what’s your story- and how can you utilize it in publicity and social media?

As you know, filmmakers don’t just pop up out of holes in the ground (if they did, that would be weird). They’re not packaged up like dolls that can be unwrapped and liberated from their boxes to create pitch-perfect films every time. It takes work, it takes skill, and it takes dedication to their craft. The same goes with you. You have a story of your filmmaking journey, and now it’s time to share it. Last year, I heard David Michôd (Animal Kingdom, The Rover, War Machine) talk about his films. Animal Kingdom‘s final incarnation was different to the script of 10 years prior. Perhaps you pursued filmmaking because you heard the call after 30 years of doing the same mind-numbing desk job. Perhaps your film was in distribution limbo but you managed to secure a deal thanks to a serendipitous meeting. It’s things like this that can be shared with media and audiences to good effect.

Here’s ways in which you can share your filmmaking journey:

  • If you love to blog, then blog about it! Film fans love unique insights into the filmmaking process and the filmmaker’s journey because it feels intimate and special.
  • Share on social media. Perhaps you have some old photographs from your early filmmaking days, or a snapshot of the first day’s filming of your first film. Nostalgia is fun and accessible.
  • Think about vignettes and insights you can share when you are being interviewed. In my case, when I do interviews or podcasts about the creation of Film Sprites PR I am more than happy to discuss the fact that my career started as a result of being an earthquake survivor and re-building my life to reflect my passion for film and the desire to work in the film industry. You can think about sharing similar (if you’re comfortable with it). Have you struggled with mental illness and are now dedicated to reflecting these struggles in the narratives of your films? Did a beloved childhood film spark your path towards filmmaking?

Your story is just as much a part of your film as the script and the actors in it. Don’t be afraid to share your journey…you never know who you will inspire.

 

The One Thing We Need to STOP Doing on Social Media

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Earlier this week I logged into my e-mail to see a message from an acquaintance. We’d been connected via Facebook. Upon opening the message, all I see is a banner for his film. There’s no salutation, no explanation…just the banner. Curious, I emailed him back to ask why he had sent it to me.

“Well, I know you’re interested in social media so I e-mailed it to  you for your awareness”.

Awareness achieved…albeit negatively. Perhaps if he had told me more about the film and what he wanted to achieve by sending the picture, I might have been more receptive.

The one thing we need to STOP doing on social media is treating people like receptacles for links.

 

Regardless of whether it’s messaging your IMDb link to someone without context, or using a third-party provider to send an auto DM to your followers when they follow you, we need to get back to having the ‘social’ in ‘social media’. Recently on the blog I mentioned that we need to work smarter, not harder when it comes to social media- especially when you’re trying to gain awareness for your film. No matter what industry you are in, forging strong connections with people in your network is key. Think I’m wrong? Watch Joe Wilson’s video on Film Courage about actors spamming people on Twitter (note: contains swearing).

Imagine you’re at a conference and there’s a networking cocktail hour. People are milling about, catching up and talking about the day’s events. And then there’s you- you have a billion sheets of paper that only have the link to your film’s crowdfunding campaign on them. Instead of organically networking and getting to know people, you throw the paper up in the air and hope that as it falls, people take notice. That’s what social media can feel like at times, instead of being a conversation. One of the advantages that independent and micro-budget filmmakers have is that they have the ability to make the most of social media. Big blockbusters have PR departments, directors may have their own social media accounts but their engagement can be few and far between, depending on scheduling and whether or not they have someone else managing their personal social media feeds or not. With indies and micro-budgets, most of the time it’s you on the other end of the conversation. So instead of thrusting links upon people…engage with your followers. After all, one of the most important parameters of digital marketing is engagement. You can have all the followers you could possibly want, but if engagement levels are low, it’s not good. That’s how you can tell if someone has bought social media followers: the engagement levels don’t correlate with follower numbers.

Additionally, if you are approaching someone to assist you in any way, be it via e-mail or a social media message, approach them as if you were to approach anyone you’d like assistance from outside of social media. Sending a picture with the hopes it gets shared (and sans message) doesn’t cut it. It just doesn’t. Does that mean I’m not guilty of these social media sins? Not at all! I put my hand on my heart and say that as I was learning and growing, I committed some pretty gnarly social media and publicity sins. Everything is a learning process.

Another way of gaining awareness around your project is to help other people out. Take competition out of the equation, especially if you are an indie filmmaker. You’re not scrambling for those box office dollars (not yet, anyway!). If someone is looking for equipment to hire for a weekend shoot, share their info or point them in the right direction. If you know two people who could benefit from meeting one another and networking, introduce them. Being a connector is a great way of not only assisting others with their goals, it’s great karma. Plus, there will come a time when someone thinks of you when it comes to an opportunity, and will gladly connect you to the right person.

And yes, I’m counting myself as a recipient of this blog post, and as needing this message too. At times, I have been guilty of treating people like link receptacles as well. It’s all part of the human experience. So, from now on, let’s make even more of a concerted effort to really connect with the people who have chosen to follow/like us online. Deal? Deal.

 

The Most Annoying Things You Can Do When Using Social Media For Your Film

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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, what are the most annoying things you can do when promoting your film on social media?

Spamming everyone (not just your followers) on Twitter: imagine you’re sitting in a hotel room by yourself, and you hear a knock on the door. Upon answering it, someone is standing in front of you and says: “help make it happen for….” and then promptly leaves. As you close the door, you hear the same person knocking on every other motel room door and saying the same thing. This is what it’s like when you tweet everyone the link to your film or campaign individually. Not only is it time consuming, it means that your followers can see each tweet you send out with the link to every other follower! At best they will mute you from their timeline, at worst they will block you, so for the sake of sending out the same cut and paste tweet to each individual follower, you’ve lost people.What can amp the annoyance factor up even more is if you tweet your link randomly to someone you’re not even following! I have lost count the amount of times people who are not following Sprites on Twitter have tweeted a link at us (along with a bunch of other people they’re not following, in the hopes of a re-tweet)

A better idea: as I said above, it’s about working smarter, not harder! For all the time you’ve spent copy and pasting and tweeting to each individual follower, you could be spending time engaging with your followers, tweeting out fantastic content about your film or finding additional content to post that will be of interest to your audience. People share great content- so make sure you’re maximising your time on social media by creating that great content. And if you’re crowdfunding your film, check out our guide to maximising Twitter for your crowdfunding campaign for more hints and tips.

Inappropriate hashtags:  hashtags are exceptionally useful, both for people searching for things via certain hashtags, or for people wanting followers to find their content. However, when you’re using inappropriate hashtags for your content, it can end up being a PR disaster waiting to happen. And by ‘inappropriate’ I’m not talking about offensive or rude, I mean the use of hashtags that have no relevance to the content but are there to try and capture the current trends. I’ll use Twitter again for my example: you’re promoting your new short film, but using the hashtags that are trending that day. This can backfire spectacularly, especially if you’re using a hashtag regarding a tragic current event (yes, I have seen this happen).

A better way: if you’re an indie filmmaker (webseries, film or both), the hashtag #SupportIndieFilm is particularly effective, especially for Twitter. Not only does it connect you with indie film fans, it also connects you with other indie filmmakers, and can assist you with networking. A great account to follow on Twitter is FirstGlance Film, the absolute champions of independent film on Twitter (full disclosure- we’re one of their media supporters). In terms of great hashtags for Twitter and Instagram, think about the audience for your film, and then the genres and sub-genres your film belongs to. Experiment, look at your analytics and see what works effectively.

The follow/unfollow tactic: I have to admit, this is the one that annoys me. There are some people who will follow you on Twitter or Instagram, and if you don’t follow back, they’ll unfollow, only to surface again down the track and will follow you again in the hopes that you’ve forgotten about their follow/unfollow!

A better way: people will follow and unfollow who they want to. You can’t beat people over the head with a stick to get them to do what you want on social media. You just can’t. When people use the follow/unfollow tactic, it tells people that they actually don’t care that much about your content, they just want to rack up follower numbers. You should be focusing on quality, not quantity. Follow the people you genuinely want to follow, especially if they have content you love sharing with your followers.

And, related to this point:

Buying followers: No. No. No. NO. Again, it’s quality over quantity. Would you prefer 100 engaged followers who share your content, connect with you and support your film, or 1000 who do nothing? It’s a practice you don’t want to have anything to do with, especially if overnight you suspiciously have a huge amount of followers and minimal engagement. That doesn’t mean people don’t end up with a massive amount of followers and likers overnight (especially if something goes viral, is mentioned in the news or is recommended by someone with a huge following), but it does tend to look very suspicious.

A better way: building up an audience and a following takes time. There’s no magic pill for it, except genuinely connecting with your audience on a regular basis. But building up that audience means that you will have followers/likers who have supported you from day one- isn’t that inspiring? You are inspiring- never forget that! And yes, being in publicity and social media marketing means I can put a quantifiable number on certain aspects of audience engagement, etcetera…but you can’t put a number on inspiration, or on the young person still in high school who avidly follows you and is inspired by your work to become a filmmaker themselves. One of the other things that I think a lot of people tend to do is see the numbers as a reflection of who they are, but it really isn’t. Maybe that sounds a bit woo-woo, but when you’re creating anything and working towards a goal, sometimes it’s easy to see those pesky numbers as a reflection of your self worth. Trust me- I’ve been there! But you and I both know you’re more than the numbers. Don’t sweat it, grow that following organically and over time and your work will be seen, appreciated and shared.

Answering FAQs About Social Media For Filmmakers

Film Sprites PR FAQ Twitter

At Film Sprites PR we receive a lot of requests to assist with the social media side of film marketing. It’s something we’ve assisted with for 3 years and it’s also something we definitely enjoy doing! You might have read the previous post about how the digital age is assisting filmmakers with their indie films and connecting to their audiences, and the rise in the breadth of social media available is invaluable to the independent filmmaker.

So many indie filmmakers are incredibly social media-savvy (I think it comes from the resourcefulness, creativity and initiative independent filmmakers have!), but if you’re not- fear not! Here, we’re answering some of the frequently asked questions we receive, so you can hit the ground running with social media for your film (and, more importantly, growing your audience).

When do I need to establish social media accounts for my film? The best time is in pre-production. That means you can slowly and organically start to grow your followers/likers which can translate into growing your audience for your film. It’s also a good time to set up your film’s website (or, if you have a production company with a website and multiple films, to add a page for this film). In pre-production you may not have much content to add to your social media and/or website, but you can add things like storyboarding for your film, logline, etcetera. For a more comprehensive look at a publicity and social media timeline for your film, I recommend reading this post.

Do I need to have a social media account on every social media platform? We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to social media platforms. Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram…there’s so many platforms to choose from now. Does your film need to have a social media presence on each one? No. My advice? Choose only the platforms you would feel comfortable using on a routine basis. Are you more visual, and want to give your audience an insight into the filmmaking process? Instagram is a great pick. Like your updates with more text than you can fit into 140 characters on Twitter? Facebook is a good option. If you’re an avid writer, think about having a blog on your film’s website. Here at Film Sprites PR we chose to use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as our social media platforms because they were the three platforms that I use regularly, and subsequently our freelancers also use on a regular basis. I didn’t think about Tumblr and wasn’t interested in adding Snapchat to our social media presence, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you’re a master at snapping snazzy content or Tumblr feels second nature to you- go for it! Social media for your film shouldn’t feel like a chore.

What’s your take on buying followers? Here’s the thing: would you rather have 10 followers who have followed you because they are genuinely passionate about your film, and will willingly share your content because they believe in you, or would you prefer 10,000 bought followers who don’t interact and don’t care? Building a following (and an audience for your film) takes time. It’s a process you don’t want to rush. Keep it authentic, and don’t buy into ploys. Quality over quantity!

Do I have to do my own social media for my film?

This is really dependent on your film itself. If you have a micro-budget with minimal cast and crew, you may choose to also do your own social media. If this is something you’re not keen on, perhaps there is someone on the team that can be allocated this task? If your film is an indie with a modest budget, you may choose to have someone on board to do this for you. If you can afford to outsource to a dedicated digital marketing and/or PR person, this is also an option.

Am I going to tell you that that’s the right call because I run a digital marketing and PR consultancy? Absolutely not. I know, I know….you can pick your jaw up off the ground now. Yes, there are advantages to outsourcing your social media marketing (social media that is targeted towards your chosen audience and demographic, etc), but when push comes to shove, there are ways and means and only you know your film, your crew and resources available, and your budget. You can always use this to gauge your digital marketing needs accordingly.

What sort of social media content should I post? I definitely recommend checking out our post that gives you an appropriate timeline for publicity and digital marketing of your indie film for this one. I also recommend checking out our post on the most annoying things you can do on social media so you can see what to avoid.

Most importantly of all: have fun with it. Social media for your film shouldn’t feel like a chore. You have an authentic voice, and film lovers want to connect with that. Best of luck!

Want to know about our publicity and digital marketing services for film? Click HERE.