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January 3 at 8:30am

Don’t Think Facebook is Helping Your Film? Maybe You’re Not Doing It Right.

By Ted Hope

By Reid Rosefelt
Can you really sell your film on Facebook with one of those dinky ads on the right side of the page?


Let’s begin by taking off the table the fact that many people really hate them.  Assuming that that’s not the case,  usually the 100 pixel x 72 pixel size is too small to even show the poster image, and the maximum 90 characters makes a tweet look like a novel.   It’s true that Facebook ads can be dirt cheap– for the price of one weekly ad in IndieWire– I once got 60 million “impressions” (times displayed) on Facebook– and it offers prodigious targeting abilities allowing you to zero in on fans of any director, actor, movie, social issue, among other  things, but still, you end up with a bargain price on a zillion itsy-bitsy ads that I personally don’t think will directly lead to anything as big as a ticket purchase or a video viewing.  Selling shoes or an exercise program or ice cream cones, yes; movie tix, no.  In my opinion, the sole purpose of those itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie ads on the right side of the page is to drive people to like your Facebook page.  It’s worked for me and countless others and it can work for you (if you do it right).

Now that you have a lot of fans on your page, do you blast them with a hard sell?  Do you put up a series of links to reviews that call it a masterpiece or one of the year’s ten best or the funniest or scariest movie in town?

I’m hoping  most of you know the answer to this one, but all of you don’t because I see it all the time.
Earth to Facebook marketers!  Anything that looks or feels like ads is the epitome of what people don’t want to see on social media and will make them unlike your page or hide your posts pronto.  You don’t like it on your page, do you?   The harder you sell the easier they unlike.

Do you sell your movie on your Facebook page by begging your fans to go to the movie theatres?  

Your posts only reach 16% of your fans, of which more than half have already seen your film.  If anybody in that 8% is willing to see your movie as a favor, that’s because they have more of a connection with you than clicking a “like button” and you can reach them much more efficiently through email.  There are many examples of successful social media campaigns that ask people to reach out to their friends, but I personally think it’s a lot to ask your 8% to reach into their contact lists to notify their out-of town friends every time you book a new playdate.

Do you sell your movie on your Facebook page by keeping your fans up-to-date with the latest news?

If you’re a passionate fan of a film, it’s wonderful to receive information about awards, events and the latest reviews.  And it’s a nice thing for filmmakers to be in touch with their fans, particularly when the fan base gets big.   But what’s the point in communicating with people who have already signed on?   You are putting time into Facebook because you want to reach the friends-of-friends, friends-of-friends-of friends, and friends-of-friends-of-friends-of friends.  You want to keep reminding people who have never liked your page and never will… but might be aware of it and this will help keeping it on their wavelength.   My blog post about “The Wire” shows how this can go on indefinitely.   There is nothing in simple news by itself that makes a fan assume their friends will be interested.  You need to create the kind of content that people will want to share.

So how the hell do you sell your film on your Facebook page?

You sell by not “selling.”   You sell not by asking, but by giving.

You win when you grasp the concept that it isn’t about pushing your product on consumers, but initiating a dialogue.   You  succeed when you strive to give your fans an experience that is as close as possible to the one they enjoy with their most interesting and fun Facebook friends–intriguing and funny comments, links, questions,  pictures and videos.    You have a lot of tools like trailers and ads and publicity to help you get through the weekend.   Social media is not about this week;  it’s about what “Homeland”’s Carrie Mathison calls the “long game.”   Social media is about forging relationships that will last throughout your career.

Don’t let anybody ever catch you “selling.” Facebook will work for you from the moment you understand that you only get when you give.

Reid Rosefelt coaches filmmakers in how to market their films using Facebook, and lectures frequently on the topic.  His credits as a film publicist include “Stranger Than Paradise,”  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and “Precious.”



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  1. Sheri Candler / Jan 3 at 8:30am

    not only is this useful for filmmakers, but distributors/publicists/sales agents too, who are ALL about the heavy sales/promotional speak.

  2. Kenyon / Jan 3 at 8:30am

    I completely agree with this article and especially about the facebook ads. Not many people realize that Facebook’s click through rate is a fraction of the google display networks, which some may see as a negative;however, it can also be a positive meaning that you can get millions of impressions at almost no cost! The platform is adding better targeting options and has also made some moves to improve search data. Facebook is doing their part to develop the tool, now it’s our turn as marketers to evolve with it.

  3. Rose Lagace / Jan 3 at 8:30am

    I love this post. I’ve been telling filmmakers this for a while. I just also wanted to add that a rule that I use and has worked wonders for me in regards to Facebook marketing is “70/20/10″. Posting 70% interesting content that people want/need to share, like or comment. Sharing 20% colleagues/top institutions/relevant facebookers posts that are share-worthy, great content. Lastly, posting 10% soft sell/ accomplishments/ press. You are absolutely right about not doing the hard sell but a soft sell when done correctly and done few and far between has worked for me.

  4. Reid Rosefelt / Jan 3 at 8:30am

    Thanks, Rose. That’s a nice formula you have there. It mirrors the Pareto Principle, : : )

  5. Reid Rosefelt / Jan 3 at 8:30am

    Thanks, Kenyon. You definitely can get a lot of impressions, but I’m not sure how much value I see in it for independent film.. I once got 60 million impressions, all targeted in NYC, for a single FB ad campaign but I don’t think it was effective. I think it would have been more effective if it had been an issue-oriented documentary or a horror movie… it’s not so good for a quality indie dramatic film.

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