By Meagan Warner
In the two years I’ve been in a film-marketing role, I’ve learned how valuable social media is for independent and documentary films.
In the more recent months, I’ve learned how valuable GooglePlus is.
Part of my job as the Social Media Coordinator is to promote documentaries and independent films on Passion River’s social media. I announce “post worthy” news about your film.
This includes release dates, interviews, screenings, related current events and more. All the while I make sure to use keywords and hashtags for each particular film. This brings me to my first point.
1. Hashtags on GooglePlus
Google tracks the hash tags you use on GooglePlus. Meaning if someone searches the hash tag #healthfilm on Google’s home page and you’ve used it, your page is popping up.
That’s right. All the while we’re trying to rank on Google and many of us didn’t know that you could rank in a whole different way.
So do your film marketing hash tag research properly.
Another great feature is the “Explore a hash tag” box on the Explore tab of your home page. If you search #documentary, this is what you might find:
This means two things: You can find related popular hash tags and you can make a hash tag related to another. By consistently using #documentary and #filmmaker with #thetitleofyourfilm, you are upping your chances of your film being discovered.
You can also encourage your followers to use your personalized hash tags. When a hashtag earns that status, it starts showing in the auto suggests for hashtags.
Google doesn’t miss a thing.
This brings me to my second point-Using GooglePlus communities to market your indie film.
There are thousands of communities to join on Google+. They are there for anyone interested in joining discussions, asking questions, sharing ideas and projects.
It’s a very laid back and creative environment, unlike LinkedIn which also has groups but is much more formal.
Among many others, we are part of a community called Indie Film Professionals that has over 1,300 members.
It’s a great spot for us to give our two cents as indie film distributors, whereas as a cinematographer could share advice on shooting a film on a budget.
We’ve also joined subject-specific communities such as NORMAN REEDUS FANS, because we have a film called Hello Herman starring Reedus.
We are NEVER sales-ey.
We use this opportunity to join the discussion and let fans know he has a new film out that they might enjoy. Filmmakers-you should be doing this too.
Is your documentary about new cancer treatments? Poverty? Adoption? There are communities for ALL of these subjects.
Below is a preview of the communities that show when we searched ‘health and fitness.’ These are just four out of hundreds.
If your film is about becoming a vegetarian, join a vegetarian lovers community. Some of your posts could include: 5 helpful facts from your film, links to helpful websites, your film's overall message about health, some good recipes, etc.
Once you establish an informative role, it’s a better time to mention your film and it’s valuableness. There are people out there who are hungry for helpful news.
Your film could be exactly what they need.
To market your film you must provide a sense of YOUtility for the audience member.
How is this film useful or entertaining for YOU, the audience member? Ultimately what they care about is how it will benefit them in one way or another. Show them!
Once they see the value in your film, they will follow your page. Which is why you need to keep your page updated with great content as well.
See Film Marketing Strategy to get some good content ideas.
So is a Google Plus page essential for a film like 22 Jump Street? No.
With mega-stars like Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, social media is not going to make or break a movie like that. But for independent films, the proper usage of social media can increase your audience size ten-fold.
If you don’t take advantage of GooglePlus communities, you’ll be missing out on reaching your ideal audiences. And without researching their most used hashtags, you won't appeal to them.
Sitting down and writing your keywords should be part of your film marketing strategy. This will help you determine your hashtags AND the appropriate communities to join.
While our marketing efforts as independent film distributors further spread awareness of your film, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you-the filmmaker-to have an existing social media presence.
Indie and documentary films aren’t in the spot light like blockbusters, so you have to give audiences a reason to want to follow you. Take advantage of Google+ features in order to grow awareness of your film.