Social media is one of the fastest ways to convey targeted information to many people with the push of a button. Done properly, social media has the potential to inspire and engage an audience to think, feel, and even do something.
Here, we’ve outlined simple ways to engage on social media with your film's existing and potential audiences, using targeted content aimed at generating inquiry, discussions, and action. Creating and implementing a solid social media strategy will help you get the most out of your experience at Sundance, and here's how to do it.
Here are four primary components to a sound social media strategy:
Identify Your Goals: Once you’ve determined your goals for Sundance, many elements of your strategy will probably be immediately apparent, such as your target audience, your primary message & call-to-action, the best social platforms on which to engage, and the key performance indicators that will show whether (or not) your efforts are working. For instance, your goals might be to engage Park City filmgoers in a conversation about the issues raised in your film, create buzz about your screenings, or build your audience on a specific platform.
Know Your Audience: Have an idea of who your audience might be before you get to the festival. If you made a documentary, who cares most about your subject matter? Are they organized, formally or informally? Who are their network influencers? If you're going with a narrative, what are some comparables from years past? What are your story and/or theme "hooks"? Answering these questions will help you identify and begin to engage with your potential fans well before you arrive in Park City.
Select the Right Message for the Right Platform: With limited resources, the key to increasing audience engagement while conserving resources (time, money, etc.) is to focus on keeping things simple, direct, and relevant. Use a clear call-to-action that supports one of your goals and make sure your message aligns with your goals, your audience, and your call-to-action.
Understand Your Limitations: Limiting the number of social media platforms you employ to only those that are the most effective not only ensures that your resources are preserved, but also prevents going a "mile wide and an inch deep" with your engagement -- which leads to an unsatisfying user/audience experience. Start only with what can be handled -- consistent messaging through one, two or three platforms is much better than inconsistent use and monitoring of multiple platforms.
Once your goals are set, your message is clear, your audience is known, and your platforms selected, the next step is to create a content strategy and editorial calendar to help ensure consistency for your audience. Messages can be scheduled to be sent on specific days and times. Free tools such as Hootsuite can help with scheduling and tracking audience engagement; and Simply Measured can identify not only when the your audience is most active on social networks, but also what type of posts/content are most popular across platforms.
Shareability: One tip to extend the mileage of a message (on any platform) is to make it “shareable.” Content “shares” are one of the holy grails of social media metrics, as they push your message out to more people, and offer a clear indication that the message resonates with your audience. This is also where you can harness the power of the hashtag! Make yours simple, specific, and unique and you'll be well on your way to setting your film apart from much of the noise that will be generated in Park City.
Is it Working? Metrics, Analytics & Reporting: You can determine whether your social media efforts are moving the needle on your goals by identifying and tracking appropriate metrics. Free analytics tools (remember Simply Measured?) will create insightful reports and help gauge success. Maintaining consistent reporting over time will identify areas of strength, or areas that need to be adjusted.
Is social media worth the trouble? If done properly, YES. If done on the fly without a strategy, probably not. The beauty of social media done properly is that it can add new dimensions to your project. Historically, the conversation was one way - from creator to audience. Now it is multi-directional - from creator to audience, audience back to creator, and from one audience to many new audiences. The power of social media done right is the potential for generating exponential reach for your indie film.
Interested in discussing a Social Media, Content, and/or Digital Strategy for your project? Call the Smarthouse Creative Head of Business Development at 310-454-8743, or email Nancy@smarthousecreative.com.