By Doug Gritzmacher
Creative Director, Z-Channel Films, Denver, Colorado
You’ll find a lot of chatter these days among marketing blogs proclaiming that marketing on Facebook is dead. From our experience, we can understand the sentiment, but we think marketing on Facebook should still be an important part of any film marketing plan for documentary film production.
But first, why all the doom and gloom about Facebook? Much of the frustration marketers run into on Facebook centers around how it handles posts.
Let’s say your film has 15,000 “likes”. These “likes” represent your fan base. You worked very hard to build this fan base and did everything you’re supposed to do: you made posts during the production of your film, posted behind-the-scenes photos, and made posts about news and events relative to the subject of your film. Heck, you probably even spent a good chunk of change on ads to bring in more “likes.”
Now you have completed your film and just landed a deal to get it on iTunes. The film your fans have been salivating to see finally get to do just that and hopefully, at the same time, make a sizable dent in making back some of the thousands you have sunk into your film. You can barely contain your excitement as you craft your iTunes post complete with a download link. You can already see that royalty check in the mail. You hit “post” and wait for all the attention your 15,000 fans will shower on the news.
One problem: at best, only a third of your fan base will ever see the post about your big news. This is because Facebook limits the “reach” of your post into the timelines of your fans. Not only that, Facebook sends the post into the timelines of those fans who are most active on your page. This means you are constantly preaching to the choir, winning over fans you’ve already won over and doing little to capture the attention of casual fans.
But hold on: There’s still a way to reach those casual fans. You’ve probably noticed that option by your post that says “boost this post”? Click that, and you’ll find that there is a way to reach the other two-thirds of your fans … for a fee.
Sound unfair? You bet! But this is Facebook’s way of monetizing fan pages. It’s also why many marketers have thrown up their hands in frustration and focused their attention on other, less evil seeming social media platforms (primarily Twitter.). Should you do the same? Maybe. But before you close down your Facebook page completely, read on.
According to Pew Research, 74 percent of online American adults use Facebook. That number goes up to 85 percent among those aged 18-49, which also happens to be the age bracket of those most likely to see and buy your film.
It is therefore simply expected to that you have a Facebook page. You’re in the business of building legitimacy for your film. One way to do that is to make sure it appears as socially up-to-date as possible.
It is also important to make yourself as socially ACCESSIBLE as possible. In the age of social media, people expect to be able to communicate directly with artists and express their opinions about their work. Facebook is the first place people turn to find you and your film and give feedback (feedback that is also valuable to you as your craft your film). Accessibility builds connections, which builds interest and involvement, which later translates into sales.
Another reason we think Facebook is still worthwhile as a marketing tool goes back to those posts that are only reaching a third of your audience. You likely pay very close attention to the number of “likes” and “shares” your posts receive. Most of your posts likely get a few “likes” and, if you’re really lucky, a “share” here and there. But once in a while, a post will receive a lot of attention. While Facebook will make you pay to boost your post, a popular post will boost itself free-of-charge. The more “likes” your post has, the higher it will appear in your fans’ newsfeeds. Additionally, when a fan “shares” your post, he or she is now putting it on their timeline for all his or her friends to see. This is free advertising and what the phrase the “power of social media” is all about.
So go ahead and make that post about your iTunes news and don’t curb your excitement: You may not reach all of your existing fan base, but you will likely acquire a number new fans through shares of your big news.