Many of you are on Facebook and other social media platforms. Why wouldn’t you be? That’s where the people are. Facebook now boasts over 2.37 Billion users per month. That’s over a third of the world’s population, 94 percent of which access Facebook via the mobile app. Youtube has over 1.9 billion app users per month. Instagram over 1 billion app users per month and Twitter which according to September 2019 ranked twelfth, enjoys more than 330 million global monthly active users.
Social media, particularly some of the larger platforms, have really enabled people to reach out and connect to each other around the globe. If you have used any of these, you have no doubt created an audience that will follow you and what you are doing in filmmaking. But are you optimizing your efforts to the best effect?
When producing a film, most filmmakers have no idea as to whom their audience is supposed to be. Do you? You have to be more specific than saying, “My audience is someone who enjoys a good movie.” This is far too broad and general to reach anyone in particular.
Is your movie any good? Honestly? Considering your competition, what have you created that sets yourself and your movie apart? Why would anyone want to invest the time to watch your movie over other movies now available? And how do you reach the people that you know want to see your movie, and support your efforts? Marketing your film should be more than simply throwing your two-minute teaser trailer on Facebook.
If this is your approach to marketing after creating something and simply hoping that others will like what you have created, you are taking a shotgun approach to marketing. You are taking your best shot and hoping that you hit something. You are hoping to find someone with whom your movie resonates. This often results in the least effective results.
Even with a global reach such as Facebook enjoys, to ensure you reach your audience you have to have some idea for whom you are creating your movie. Many filmmakers haven’t. This applies as much to the low-budget movies as it does to the aspiring no-budget filmmaker. The movie with a genuinely wide appeal in the film industry is extremely rare and almost non-existent.
You are going to want to market to your target audience from day one of your pre-production.
Who is your audience?
Ask yourself: “Who is my target audience?” Without a clear idea of who this is, how do you hope to find them, much less reach them? Unless you can answer who your audience is, you are not going to attract a producer, investor, nor distributor, which is ultimately what you are after, unless you plan on going the DIY route. Without knowledge of who your audience is, you are not going to land any kind of distribution deal at all. In fact, if asked by one of these important people who your audience is and you gave them this general answer, they would likely roll their eyes and try to walk as far from you that they could, as fast as they could travel.
What do you need to know about your audience?
What you need to know about your audience is their general age, gender, education level, religion, language, culture, and group memberships—that is if you ever hope to reach a distributor, investor, or producer. You will normally have a maximum of 20 to 30 seconds, or a short twenty to thirty words, or the time it takes to make a short elevator ride in which to deliver an elevator pitch and sell these people on your movie. An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in what your movie, your project, idea, or product – or in yourself. That is if you can grab their ear at all. If you cannot answer who your audience is, you are not prepared to pitch them.
What have you created?
Before you look for your audience, you are going to have to be honest with yourself. What have you created? What about your movie sets it apart from all the other hundreds of similar movies, and why would people want to see it? What genre is your film, how long is it, who are its stars and crew? Unless you can answer these questions, you are doomed to fail. In these answers, you will begin to find who your target audience is.
Where do you look?
To find your target audience you want to rethink the idea of having a broad and general audience. In fact, as counter-intuitive as this may sound, you want precisely the opposite. You want the smallest, most tightly woven group of people you can find who can get excited about your film and cannot wait to share it with others. These are your people. This is the group you want. This is your audience.
Building your network
From this group of people, you are going to build your network. So, you are going to want to stay in touch with them. Each and every one. The easiest way to do this is to build a mailing list, keeping track of each and every person’s name, email address, (possibly physical address) and telephone number. Tell them that with this (carefully guarded) information you are going to stay in touch with them. Send them regularly updated information monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. But it should be regularly. You want to make them feel as though they have a genuine connection with you. You want them to remember who you are and be willing to help you if needed.
To entice them to agree with this, offer each a compelling “bribe,” think some exclusive information or content that only they would receive for joining you, some benefit of belonging to your tightly-knit group. These are the people who will create buzz for you.
Side note: Recently the buying and selling of personal data have become an issue, but this was true for marketers even well before the internet. Before the internet, when snail mail, print media, and telephones were the primary means of identifying a market, the list brokers with the most specific mailing lists could command the highest prices. These mail-order professionals were already collecting information on you. As true as this is, you don’t want to jeopardize the trust that you are working to build with your audience. Resist the temptation to become sloppy with this information. Do not sell your audience’s information.
To keep people engaged, there are a number of very effective ways to do this on Facebook. In the next chapter, this will be discussed at length.