Film CrowdfundingTo Win Your Film Audience, Think Like a Content Marketer
November 14, 2013
In a recent Seed&Spark #filmcurious Twitter chat the question was raised how people find out about new films. The idea behind was to identify the main information sources that people trust to make the decision about the next movie to watch.
Chat participants, with many of them being filmmakers, referenced Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, as well as trade magazines like Indiewire and Indiewood/Hollywoodn’t as their go-to sources. Some mentioned using YouTube, Vimeo or Twitter to scout for new indie films. Most agreed that they trust their friends to tell them about a good movie.
Not mentioned during the chat were ticket sites like Fandango and Moviefone. Eager to turn movie browsers into ticker buyers, both sites offer news and trailers about films that are or will be coming soon to theaters. And there is more.
A Google Social Research study from December 2012 concluded that on average moviegoers consult 13 sources before they make a decision about what movie to see. The study said that although the number of movie titles released declined 9% in 2012 vs. 2011, movie searches on Google were up 56% during that time.
That’s a lot of information gathering for an investment of US$14.00, the average price of a movie ticket, and two hours of a person’s time to watch a film.
And those sources don’t always include films that are not shown in theaters, films that are available online or still in production process.
Considering that moviegoers consult different channels, sites and people about movies, how can filmmakers connect with them early on? After all, the movie needs to hit a nerve and often the movie selection is guided by the person’s mood.
Filmmakers can take a look at the playbook of content marketers. Content marketing is the technique of creating and distributing relevant content to attract, acquire, and engage the target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. In other words, the idea is to put yourself into the shoes of the moviegoer and describe the film in the words that the audience is using in their searches and conversations about films and then create content around the film to attract and engage the audience online.
Let’s start with describing the movie from the audience perspective. Before looking for the audience, filmmakers need to define their movie beyond the genre. Being defined as an action movie or romantic comedy is not enough. A movie can spark many different conversations. For example, the romantic comedy can have a strong female lead, and a theme that centers on “growing up” or exploring new boundaries. Most importantly, the film needs to be defined by the mood.
Similar to what we see in the music business, film recommendation sites started going beyond the cookie-cutter genre listings. An example (they are no longer in operation) was the Jinni Movie Genome project which is using complex algorithms to make movie recommendations for everyone. You can search by plot, genre, audience, country, awards and even by mood. I typed in ‘happy’ and Ratatouille, Up, WALL-E, Forrest Gump, Tangled, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and The Artists popped up, among more than 5,400 choices. Some of those films were indeed a happy choice for me, although I left the site slightly wondering why happy films are mostly kids’ movies.
But most importantly, filmmakers can use existing sites to define categories and tags to describe the different facets of their movie. By using multiple tags and categories, the film content will become more searchable, and thereby easier to find.
The next step is to put efforts into building an engaging online and social media presence, ideally optimized for mobile devices. Gone are the days of static movie websites. More and more people go to social media sites such as Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube to explore new movies.
According to a survey that Adobe conducted among more than 3,075 mobile users in the United States, Canada, UK, France, and Germany in March 2013, consumers predominantly use their mobile devices to gain information, including social. 47% of the surveyed consumers are using their mobile devices to purchase movies, music, and games (excluding mobile games). 65% reported reading news, including entertainment and national and world events on their mobile device.
As resources are always limited, including a person’s time, filmmakers can focus their audience building efforts on the most-used social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and blogs like Tumblr. Adding Google+ will help with search rankings.
Last, but not least, not any content will do. Filmmakers need to keep content fresh and engaging so that people are dying to share it with their friends. Here filmmakers have a distinct advantage over other industries. The movie – seen as a product – is itself very visual. And there is usually lots of footage that did not make it into the movie but could be used for marketing.
The Google Consumer Survey from March 2013 concluded that trailers remain one of the most influential sources throughout the decision process to see a movie. Trailers are also the most searched for category for the discovery of new films. Also, earlier searches have the strongest link to movie watching intent. From social media studies we know that the most shared content is photos and video.
This means that filmmakers need to offer different variations of their trailer and other multimedia content long before the movie release to attract and build and audience, and engagement needs to start early on.
In short, if you know who your film audience is, but are not sure where to find it, as people seem to be scattered across the social media universe, apply some lessons from content marketing and help moviegoers find you and your movie. The bait: a flow of highly visual film content distributed via the key online channels, described and tagged in the way your audience describes their movie experience and the ability to connect with you.