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At Smarthouse, we work with filmmakers, artists, film festivals, distributors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, startups, and nonprofits. We’ve helped a lot of clients with independent films build a social presence, grow their existing audiences, and place ads across social platforms both pre-and-post release.

Because social media is an ever-changing landscape, it can be hard to know where to spend your time, effort, and budget in order to get the word out about your project. Earlier this year, I participated in an “Ask Me Anything” marketing forum and answered questions about social media and digital marketing.

Here are some highlights that small biz owners may find useful:

Q: If someone was shopping for a digital marketing agency, what would you say to make them choose Smart Creative? What is so unique about you?
A: I would say that we’re small, but scrappy. JK! I would actually never say that. We’re small and DEDICATED, is what I would tell you. When you hires us, you get one of us as your personal project manager. We’ll be in contact with you through the whole project, and we want to make sure you’re happy with the work we’re doing for you, because we absolutely believe in your project and want everyone else to believe in it too. Another thing we do that big marketing agencies don’t is to work with smaller budgets. We can design a PR or digital strategy tailored to the budget you have available.

Q: What are some of the content marketing mistakes?
A: Jumping onto a trend — like a meme or a challenge — that doesn’t have anything to do with your project or product. It can go wrong VERY quickly!

Q: What social media platforms do you prefer when it comes to marketing indie films and why?
A: The big three: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram because the film industry is super active on all of them, and with their targeting abilities it’s a great way to find new audiences for your film.

Q: How does one measure the success of their content marketing efforts and their overall digital marketing efforts?
A: It’s really dependent on your goals, but in general I think engagement is the best way to measure success. How many interactions is your content getting; likes/loves/comments/shares/etc. Other ways to measure would be link clicks > website > purchases. That’s a little trickier depending on how you have things set up, and sometimes awareness is more valuable than direct sales.

Q: What is the hardest thing about building a social media presence for the sort of businesses you tackle?
A: Sometimes the hardest thing is just getting GOOD assets. For films in particular, things like behind-the-scenes stills, video clips, etc. aren’t foremost in people’s minds when they’re making them — and those things can be very useful when you’re building a content strategy for clients. If the film is already finished and those assets don’t exist, you can’t really do anything about it. There are workarounds, like asking the filmmakers questions about their process, etc. but it’s not the same as having a lot of material to work with up front.

Q: What is the most important thing about building organic posting in your social media networks?
A: Having at least one person dedicated to it, every day. A scheduling tool will help save that person’s sanity, for sure — but it’s really about having someone care about the content they’re putting out there, putting it out consistently, and also interacting with the audience you’re building. A simple “thanks” can go a long way towards making the people becoming your fans feel appreciated.

Q: How effective are Facebook and Instagram ads to successfully promote your projects or businesses?
A: IMO, hugely effective — if you’re targeting those ads correctly. By targeting correctly, I mean you need to really know who the audience is for your business. That’s something Smarthouse helps people figure out as well.

Q: When preparing a digital marketing plan, how do you set your goals?
A: We tailor our goals per client, depending on what outcome they’re looking for. For example, are they crowdfunding their film? Or did they just release on VOD? Are they looking to get placed in film festivals? Their expectations are key to how we decide to strategize both social and digital, so we can help them get to their expected outcome.

Q: How do you help your clients in terms of building a social media presence?A: We start with a social media audit, where we look at everything from imagery to content, including the description and usernames — and recommendations for what channels they should be using depending on what their audience target should be. From there, we start crafting consistent messaging and a digital strategy which is usually a mix of organic and paid content. Really what we do is encourage authenticity in content — your brand is you, to a large extent, and people can figure out pretty quickly when you’re not engaged with your own social media presence. A lot of what we do is get brands started with building that presence, and then hope that the tools we’ve provided them with as a starting point will result in them continuing to work at building their audience.