Finding Your Audience: The Art of Promoting Your Film Online
BY: Kaitlyn Ward
For the fourth year, the WestDoc conference for documentary and reality communities returned to LA, offering insightful seminars filled with networking opportunities and a chance to gain advice from senior network executives, producers, writers, directors, agents and distributors.
A particular panel called, “Promoting Your Film Online,” presented a wide array of guidance on the best ways to seek out your audience and identify specific niche markets within your audience. The panel, comprised of successful filmmakers who are selling their films online, included: Shawna Brakefield CEO/ President of The Brakefield Company, April Arrlington/ Transmedia Producer of The Arrlington Jump, Stephen Auerbach / Director/ Producer of “Bicycle Dreams” and Jason Brubacker/ Film Acquisitions Manager at Chill.
Brakefield, the panel moderator, brought forth the seemingly difficult reality that while getting your film online may be easy, finding your audience is not. When considering how to promote your film online, there are several questions to ask yourself such as: Who is interested in this topic? What is my target audience? What is the age, sex, marital status, location, email and phone number of my audience? How do I figure out which platform is best for me to seek out my audience and learn more about them and their interests? And am I trying to make money or just trying to get the word out?
According to Arrlington, based on case studies she has conducted, you have a hidden market and it’s important to reach out to them as well. It is a niche market that “wants to play in the same sandbox” as your target market. One popular example of this is the audience of mothers who fell in love with the “Twilight” series. This audience is out there, but you may not initially think of them as part of your audience.
So how do you find this audience? One new way is called Insider Access by the video site, Chill. Brubacker informed us about how Insider Access acts as a “hub” for all contact between you and your fan base. Through Insider Access’s intuitive content management system, you have the ability to access 100% of your fans while they provide you with extensive data on how these fans come to your Insider Access page, who they are and how they interact with your content. In exchange for your fans contact information, they get exclusive access to your promotional materials such as, behind the scenes footage, pictures, and other engaging materials. But how is Insider Access any different than building a fan base on any other social media website? Facebook’s algorithm, for example, only helps you reach roughly 17% of your audience before you need to pay up to reach more. Insider Access sources your content so that you are better able to monitor its performance instead of just simply posting. Your fans still have the ability to “like,” “tweet,” and embed posts on other social media sights with the added bonus of new viewers being prompted to join your exclusive community on Insider Access through being shown a small portion of your content making new viewers eager to join your fan base. Insider Access’s current projects include, “Camp Takota” and “Kill Me, Deadly” and have received a total of more than 70,000 sign ups. While Insider Access is not yet available to the general public, it will be in the near future.
The most important aspect to remember is that you must source your audience and continue to constantly feed them with updates about your project in the form of pictures, behind the scenes clips and constant engagement to get them as excited as you are about your film. When planning this process out, it’s crucial to commit to a schedule and always update your fans at the same time every week. This way your fans will know that every Friday, for example, they can look forward to more of your content. Always be mindful to feed them a little at a time to keep them wanting more. For example, if you release one piece of content a week, you will be letting them know to stay tuned for next week’s exciting new update. Ideally, this process should begin before you start shooting your film.
Auerbach pointed out that while there are many new digital outlets for reaching your audience, don’t forget about film festivals because even small ones are great for helping you locate your niche market. Another creative way of getting the word out is locating bloggers who are interested in the topic of your film and sending them a copy of your film so they will blog about it to their followers and fans, thus helping you with promotion.
Their final words of advice were to never relinquish your digital rights!
For information about Insider Access from Chill visit, http://blog.chill.com/2013/08/insider-access-an-exclusive-look/