Film schools don’t teach filmmakers anything about social media. Filmmakers rarely have the time to consider it. Yet a successful social media strategy will take a lot of the guesswork out of the eventual marketing and sale of your movie.

One of my favourite internet marketing bloggers is Jeff Bullas. His posts are witty and informative. Jeff states that planning a successful social media campaign has three main parts:

  • See – What is today’s situation
  • Think – Define goals and objectives
  • Draw – Map a route to achieving the goals (a bit like line producing)

Decide what it is that you want from your online presence, design, experiment and execute!

Here is a step-by-step guide:

 1. Come up with your movie’s vision statement

A clear sharp focused logline or tagline is one of the most important tasks you have. I believe this should be decided at writing stage.

Raindance has 2 different loglines: For the festival it has been “Discover. Be Discovered” and for our training programme it’s “We’ve been making filmmakers since 1992.”

Creating a logline helps you create a brand. Branding is not about logos or websites. It’s what people think of you, and in this case, what they think of your movie.

Nike didn’t just stumble into being a top sportswear brand. They tell people everytime you see their tagline: “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” This tagline is blindingly simple and effective.

Decide what the most important elements of your film are and see if you can shape and hone this into a simple, clear, and focused logline. The marketing department of every single distributor in the world will love you for it.

2. Get everyone behind you

When you are developing a social media strategy for your film, you will need the entire team’s input. That means everyone from the producer, the writer, the director, the actors all the way down to the humblest intern and volunteer.

Each of these people have the ability to contribute creatively, and without their support your social media strategy is less likely to succeed.

Remember the fact that though every single one of them can tweet and FB message away, if they don’t believe in what they are saying they will just we typing words, words and more words. You need the team to passionately believe.

3. Get your team members participating.

Marketing gurus like Jeff Bulas talk about the “Cycle Of Engagement”
A great social media presence is one where people hear about you, they come to your website and sample your wares (a trailer, a tee shirt, a making of video) then come back, write a review of their experience and dip in for the full experience (buy the entire movie). Their next review about the whole movie attracts a new customer and the cycle is repeated.

A great way to create fresh content is to get your team members centre stage and get them to talk about your project. It could be the writer talking about how they conceived the project, to the line producer talking about the most hellish day on the set or the lowly intern talking about what they learned on the job.

Or get potential customer participating by making a pilot for your film.

Real stories from real people people will draw viewers (and customers) to your site like bees to honey.

4. Prioritise

As captain of ship Raindance I constantly have to be thinking of long range goals I want – and this needs to be done before we take off on an expedition.

You must think long and hard of what the social media campaign must do for you.
– Do you want to create a large pool of followers that you can go to for crowd funding?
– Do you seek followers from a certain type of fan base (ie: horror)?
– Is your goal to use your social media as a marketing hype tool that can be scaled up with the right financial partner (as in Paranormal Activity)?
– Or do you simply want to get noticed so you have an easier time making film #2?

All goals are valid and achievable. But figure out the most important one and put that goal at the top of each days actions.

5. Strategise

This is the part I love: deciding the best strategy to achieve your goals.

This has three key parts:

The first is to have a good hard look at what is already out there, or what is coming soon. Set up your google alerts so you get notice of what your competitors are doing.

The second is to have a good hard look at who your intended audience is and how what they are interested in looking at.

And thirdly, exactly how are you going to get the word out about your film.
Assuming you already know how to create great content for your site, you will have to decide how you use sthe social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Slideshare and LinkedIn to drive people to your website. When they hit your website you will need to decide how your landing page is going to look and feel and how you are going to ask them to participate (or purchase).

This is just the tip of the tactics iceberg. How much budget are you going to dedicate to this? How much time? Can you afford to buy targeted online ads (or not)?

6. Get a budget together

Determining how much money you actually have,and how much you need is a result of your priorities (above)

Some elements are free, like developing a Twitter and Facebook ‘like’ button. Others need to be paid for, like designing a landing page.

Be hard on yourself: take a really hard look at what it is you want from your social media, determine the cost, both in terms of hard cold cash as well as in your time.

7. Get your resources together

Money, People and Tools. These cost money. And you need them.

Sometimes it’s surprisingly cheap. A WordPress template for a website can cost a few dollars. Hootsuite and other social media tools have beginner modules that can be used for free. More extensive professional media marketing tools, such as the excellent ones offered by start at several hundred dollars a month.

If you already have some social media skills, get an intern, train them on the promise they’ll gain valuable experience when they leave you in a few months time.

8. Start Creating Content

If you start thinking of yourself as a communicator specialising in moving images, your web presence will take on a unique and fresh look.

A successful social media presence requires content, and then the ability to publish it.

The content you create will fall into 3 main categories:
– Videos (think of these as the behind the scenes extras traditionally found on DVDs)
– Blog articles
– Facebook, Twitter and other social media updates

You will also want to consider pictures, audio podcasts and Power Point presentations on Slideshare.

You will need to assemble the manpower to create these essential assets.

9. Distribute

Promoting your content to your existing tribes and followers is an excellent way to start. This also justifies the time and effort spent building these groups in the first place.

You might also consider publicity and hiring a publicist to distribute a press release about you in a formal way.

You also have to be aware of optimising nd social sharing.

Optimising refers to creating content using key words that are easily found by search engines, Social sharing means you have tools and widgets everywhere you travel on the internet so people can click and quick like or bookmark or follow you.

10. Measure

Nothing ever works first time around. The beauty of social media is that you can use free internet tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights and see what works and what doesn’t almost instantly, and for free.

Track your experiments. re-utilise successful campaigns, and change or abandon ones that don’t.

Before long, you too will be a filmmaker hybid: a creator of moving images who is also great at social media.

Fade Out

This is all really easy for me to say. I have just finished working on a crowdfunding campaign for this year’s Raindance Film Festival – and was it tough. Hopefully the above will help you – I crtainly have learned from trial and error.

Social media is fast changing. It’s also very addictive and time consuming. What have I missed out? Please enter into the comments box below.

Hope this helps,

Elliot Grove