Editor’s Note: Dor Dotson is a Brooklyn-based social media strategist with over a decade of experience in entertainment market research and a speciality in small businesses and independent film. She’s also a movie fanatic and film festival lover, having attended every Sundance since 2000.
As a couple hundred lucky Sundance-bound teams of filmmakers all over the world prepare for one of the most important weeks in the life of their project, many are thinking about if and how their film will be received and represented in the digital space. It’s not easy, but it’s important stuff, and since it’s something that uses your resources during a time where you don’t have a lot to spare, you’ll want to make sure every bit of effort you’re expending actually sees returns. Here are ten tips for maximizing the effectiveness of your online presence.
Start Posting Before Your Premiere
Have you ever gotten an invitation to like a Facebook page, only to find out there was nothing on it besides a short description and a photo or two? Maybe you give it a pity "like" because you care about the people involved. But I bet you were not too excited about it, and probably not compelled to share it with your network – there’s nothing even on there!
Don’t be that page. Have plenty of content up there before it’s time for your close-up. That way, everyone who finds your page (ahem…distributors, programmers, potential audience members) will clearly see that you understand the importance of audience-building, and that you’ve committed resources to doing just that.
"Miss Sharon Jones!" had its world premiere at TIFF 2015 to wide acclaim, and they did maintain a steady stream of updates from their time in Toronto, but they also smartly amassed over 50 tweets before the festival began. This meant programmers, press and audience members tweeting about the film in anticipation could tag the official account, increasing the doc’s follower base and encouraging even more people to talk about the documentary.
You don’t need months of content (though it can’t hurt). If you’re running out of time, you can still get it going. Post any number of things – now! Your trailer, some stills, a selfie of the look on your face when you learned your film was accepted, a link to your ticketing page, some "most anticipated" lists your film appears on – the possibilities are literally endless.
One cool approach is the one that "People Places Things" took leading up to their Sundance 2015 premiere. To keep their Facebook followers interested, they curated a variety of links that related to their film’s theme – fatherhood.
Infuse Your Informational Updates with Humor
When you’re in Park City, you may feel like the entire free world (or anyone who matters) is inside that festival bubble with you.
In reality, much of your follower base is playing along from home. At the same time, it is still advisable to post some stuff that’s only relevant to those onsite – ticket on-sale announcements, the screening schedule, a reminder to vote for the audience award, etc. "Krisha" did just that during SXSW.
They were wise to communicate this in an image, with some color. Attaching images to your post is a proven way to increase engagement.
Now take a look at the "Finders Keepers" update from Sundance 2015. They had information to communicate as well – details that weren’t super-relevant to anyone who was not in Park City, but they did it in a way that could bring a smile to the face of anyone who might otherwise have been in a FOMO funk.
Share the Love! Mention Other People in Your Updates
Ask Your Collaborators To Post About (And Tag) Your Film
If you want to make things even easier, you can give them clear instructions about accounts to tag or hashtags to use. Depending on the person, they might even appreciate being given a few examples of the best and most comprehensive tweets or updates to pass along to their network. This type of support is contagious, so once a few people do this, you’ll suddenly find a chorus of supporters doing the same.
Strategically Share Press Coverage
Strategically Share Audience Reactions
Really want to share every single mention? Fine — just leave several minutes in between each share. Or perhaps even more wisely, acknowledge every mention with a thank you or a like, but only repost the mentions you like the best. The funniest, most unique, most "on brand," etc.
Update Your Cover Photo
Acknowledge or Interact with Almost Everyone
Enlist The Help of Others
To avoid some of these competing priorities, you’ve got lots of options. One common approach is to have different people on your team take over your film’s feed each day. That has the added bonus of a bit of variety, too. Or, think about sharing the responsibility with someone at home who can log in and take over while you focus on more pressing matters. Another option is to hire an experienced professional like me, who’s already on site and has affordable packages for festival coverage.