Online Film Marketing – and insiders guide!
First of all there are 2 main elements to the marketing of your movie:
1. Offline – major premieres, a film festival, electronic press kits, any real world publicity
2. Online – viral marketing via: email/social networking sites/PR newswires/newsletters/social bookmarking – anything that is an -internet’ based opportunity. Let’s examine how we can use social bookmarking and web2.0 to maximise these opportunities.
It goes without saying that different films, types and genres require a different level of approach, however there are some general rules that you can follow to generate high traffic levels on the internet.
Where’s the best place to drive all this traffic? I would suggest perhaps your own movie website is the best place to start, but equally it could be a blog (especially during the early stages of your production and you don’t yet have any imagery) or a Facebook Page, or another website which I’ll talk about later.
Your Movie Website
A domain can be purchased relatively cheaply and it is worth building a site that fits the style of the movie – a horror – clearly must have a different style to a romantic comedy. When building your site you must optimize for search engines and there are some basic rules to remember – and your site must be optimized for what are known as -On-page factors’:
1. Put some written content on the page – Google and other search engines focus heavily on text based content so on your opening page make sure that this is there and available for google to see – it should not be image based, and if you do use images make sure you place your keywords in them! i.e. instead of 1234.jpg call it HorrorMovie.jpg. In this way it is visible to search engines.
2. Keywords – keywords drive traffic to your site and therefore your main keywords should be included in your: title, H1, H2, tags, meta description, (and if you can URL) – use different keywords for each page of your site. Use the keywords early in the description.
3. Do your keyword research – it is no use entering keywords that have a massive amount of competition since it is unlikely that unless you have a huge PR budget and lots of high quality sites linking to you that you will ever really be competitive for these keywords. It is best to use what are known as -long-tail keywords’. Typically this means instead of -Romatic Comedy’ as your keyword, you might choose -Action Flick for Girls’.Targeted and more likely to peak an interest.
4. The order of your keywords matters, make sure you are consistent.
Now these on-page elements, which you are able to control, account for a probably 1/3 of the traffic that will be driven to your site. The rest comes from ‘Off-Page’ elements and these are absolutely crucial to how to drive traffic to your website.
What are off-page factors? Off-page factors are things that are effectively beyond your control. Backlinks – i.e. links from other websites and pages which link directly to your website. Certain websites will have more -authority’ than others and therefore command greater respect from Google and backlinks from these sites will push you up the rankings. However there are ways of doing this yourself and having -influence’ over the search engines.
Here’s what I am going to suggest you do. It will be a pain, and take some time but believe me the benefits are really worth it. We should create accounts on the following websites and then aim to link through to your blog or website:
5. Hubpages – write articles about your film, what is involved in the making of the movie etc.
6. Squidoo – create a -lens’ to talk about your project
7. You Tube – use video to promote your film and drive traffic to your site
There are of course, some sites which have been left off the list, quite deliberately, and these sites should be used to provide a major source of traffic and promotion to your production:
1. Facebook – the obvious choice since it is easy to invite your friends and get them onboard to follow you, as well as keep them updated with the latest developments on your movie project.
2. Twitter – an awesome way to generate interest in your film to thousands!
(For both of the above see the brilliant Mashable.com for great ways to effectively build a fan base on this platform and it would be impossible for me to add to it – its that good!)
3. One Fat Cigar – a new website for professional and up-and-coming film makers specifically to help them market and promote their productions. It’s good because as soon as you have the idea/script for your project you are able to really promote it from day one, and begin the marketing there and then so that by the time you are finished the production you already have a following. There’s a great networking tool too and it is also possible to cast and crew your project through the site.
So what can you do to build more followers and fans?
1. Content is king – without having a significant amount of high quality content no one will become a fan, and once you have people as fans, they need to be continually updated with new, and more importantly interesting content to keep them engaged.
2. What types of content work?-
a) You’re a film maker – use film content!!! Film the ‘makings of’ as it happens, conduct video blogs of your crew, interview the cast and crew (p.s. release forms!), where are you filming? why? what’s difficult about the next stunt you’re going to pull?
b) Stills photographs – very important! imagery and styling always help promote the movie and give the audience an insight into the production
3. Frequency – Updates 2 or 3 times a week are perfect, it could just be a piece to camera discussing where you are with the production and status updates can be done whenever there is something interesting to say, perhaps 2/3 times per day.
4. Interact – why not get involved with your fan base? ask them questions, talk to them and let them feel like they have direct access to you, the film maker. In this way the tie is an emotional one.
5. Share – recommend other high quality film projects you have been following – your fans will thank you for bringing another exciting production to their attention, which present you as a -cool’ authority and generates trust with your fan base.
6. Be Interesting – do things that are fun, and show the more interesting side of film making – the characters, the challenges, the difficulties in achieving certain shots.
Once you have a fan base you can then drive the fans to do what you want them to – buy your DVD, watch your film in the cinema, check it out at a festival, or even petition a distributor!
(In terms of One Fat Cigar, fans can sign up for free to the site, but you’ll need premium membership to be able to create projects but the membership charge isn’t significant and there are discount opportunities for launch to fans of their Facebook page and 500 free 1 year premium membership available. We think it will certainly be worth a punt!)
What to do once you have set-up your One Fat Cigar Project/Facebook Page/Website
While it is likely that you’re going to pick up a fair few fans by simply having your project up on the site, it is also important to promote your project to the search engines.
1. Use a number of the high authority sites (Digg.com/StumbleUpon etc.) listed above to link to your project on One Fat Cigar, Facebook and Website
2. Use Ping-o-matic.com to ping the address for your particular project
3. Link to your project through Twitter/Facebook and then do status updates every time you post something new on the One Fat Cigar site
4. Use anchor text which focuses on your keywords to link through to your page – i.e. if your keyword is -Psychological Thriller’ use this text to link through to your project page on the One Fat Cigar site, and not the name of your film or the One Fat Cigar site. This makes it easier for your keywords to appear in the search engine listings.
5.Put your One Fat Cigar link, links to your Facebook/Twitter and website out on any press releases you may have – that way the press have access to your material online for viewing.
6. Keep adding content – and don’t forget that your fans will immediately have the opportunity transfer over to your next project and so you’ll begin promotion of your second movie from a running start!
So hopefully that provides a solid basic introduction to film marketing and promoting your film online and will begin to generate interest about your project.So hopefully that provides a solid basic introduction to film marketing and promoting your film online and will begin to generate interest about your project.
Don’t forget you won’t get high in the Google rankings overnight, and you will need to track your progress. You’re not looking for the name of your movie, but you are looking for your competitive keywords. There are various rank tracking tools available to do this.
To search for the best keywords Google provides its own tool to help get you started:
Susie Tulllett (former head of DDA’s PR unit in Cannes for over 10 years) guide to Film PR can be found on the One Fat Cigar blog.
Ross Grayle Jones is co-founder of One Fat Cigar.com a movie website for people who love film.