The blogger Kipp Bodnar created a great new phrase: Social Media Capitalism. He defines this new term as how the internet is a wild wild west of internet marketeers who attach payment reference codes to anything they can think of in order to monetise the traffic they create - either to their Facebook pages, or to their blogs and websites.
A new web phenomenon was launched in 2009:Pinterest.com. Here registered users post photos of their favourite objects or venues. Pinterest adds a referral code to each picture its users upload, and then collects a commission each time a person goes to another website from Pinterest and buys something. The question is: how can this be adapted for filmmakers?
What this means to pople working on the internet, Bodnar argues, is that in order to capitalise of the traffic generated by www.pinteret.com, or any other affiliate marketing campaign, you need to understand and appreciate the powerful economic advantage of creating, building and and maintaining a solid social media campaign which integrates into the product you are trying to sell - in this case, your movie, and your movie network.
A Short History Of Social Media Capitalism
When Youtube (2005), Facebook (2007) and Twitter (2008) were born there were no systems in place to monetise web traffic. These websites have grown to become the elite in a handful of globally recognised social media websites along with Linkedin and Flickr.
About 2 years ago, these social media campaigns started monetising the traffic to their websites by selling advertising. In the process they managed to shift advertising bucks from terrestrial television and print to their websites.
What makes 2012 a key date in social media history is that Pinster has figured out how to make money from their website from the Get! Ready! Go! Not through advertising, but from traffic to and from their site. This is something that no other site has managed to do. Pinster's explosive 4000% growth in the past year makes it possibly the only website able to rival and threaten Facebook.
All of this has important lessons for filmmakers and suggests 7 Basic Ways Filmmakers Use Social Media Capitalism.
1. No Such Thing As Free Social Media
By this I mean 2 things:
- Social media profiles may be free to create, but they are incredibly time consuming to maintain.
- What if Facebook and Twitter decide to charge businesses for profiles? This is considered unlikely. But they could.
If you are totally reliant on privately owned websites like Facebook and Twitter, you expose yourself terribly if that is all you have. You can only control content and important metrics and analytics on your own website or blog. relying solely on third party websites is foolish. I just met a student at Raindance here in London who had tons of his blogs removed becasue teh annoyed someone in power. And of course there was nothing he could do about it.
You need to keep your own blogs and website going. If you don't, expect to pay the big boys big bucks every time you sell a DVD or download.
2. Spend To Receive
Any marketing activity has a cost structure defined by the amount of time and materials required to produce and distribute your message. In the good old days at Raindance, we printed thousands of leaflets (at a set price per thousand) and then distributed them by post, or joined mail lists. The intent was to generate traffic to our festival and events. The theory became: Mail enough leaflets at so much per thousand, and enough people would subscribe to the event ensuring that it would be a success. Measuring the results was esy back then. If you mailed a thousand leaflets at a fixed cost (printing, stamps and envelopes) and got a return higher than that, it was deemed a success. In the process on did AB testing like you do on social media.
Your movie's revenue potential relies directly on the amount of traffic your site receives. Generating traffic to your website costs time and money.
I often meet filmmakers with a 10-20k budget. I always ask what the marketing budget is for their DVD release. If they answer 'nothing' I immediately know that they will not get any money from DVD, VOD or on-line sales.
A considered spend on Facebook and Google ads will pay off if you take the time to understand how to utilise these powerful tools. Unlike the days of postage and leaflets, today's filmmakers have access to powerful tools to track the metrics of an advertising campaign and analyse them. These tools are free, but the time taken to learn how to use them is not, making it more difficult to gauge the cost of an online campaign.
Creating excellent content for your site and blog is an excellent way to attract eyeballs.
3. Developing Your Brand
Each time you make a movie you need to launch a new brand. The principals of branding a movie are the same as they are for any widget. One of the quickest ways to create a brand is to use the tool of genre. If your film falls into one of the specific genre types, like horror, or into one of the popular genre blends like romantic/comedy, or action/adventure you will find that it is much easier to create and develop the brand for your movie
You also need to develop your personal brand, so you can attract a group of people interested in what you are doing. As movies are best branded by genre, perhaps you too should consider creating your own personal genre.
4. Getting a Social Media Producer
In this new age, successful filmmakers need two people:
- the tradional line producer who makes sure all the stuff and all the people you need end up at the right place at the right time
- a social media producer who makes sure that all the content needed for a successful online campaign is created in the correct format and distributed over the appropriate blogs, notice boards and social media sites like Twitter and Pinterest.
5. Don't Ask Don't Get
Filmmakers I know seem to get shy when it comes to selling their wares. Don't be shy!
If a punter is hanging out on your site, they will appreciate a clear and precise call-to-action. Having a big "Buy Now" button on your website isn't enough. You need to ask people to try out your movie throughout your social media cycle.
Asking people to watch the trailer, vote on choices of graphics etc will start to engage your audience. By the time they get to your product page, they will be reaching for their credit cards to get your new movie with hardly a shove from you.
Crowd funding websites can also contribute to this. By asking people to donate in exchange for a DVD means you are asking people before the movie actually enters production.
Make sure you map your site and blogs traffic so you can lern how your followers move around your site and blogs.
6. Blog Content Your Followers Will Love
You can't just talk about your film. You will bore the pants off your audience.
Instead, create content that solves key problems your audience faces. Make these problem solvers integrated into your movie. Once you get someone reading your content, bring them into your website via social media and search engines. Once you have a visitor on your site you can present them with film-specific information and focus them on buying your movie.
Think like a trade publication. Create content that you or your friends would really like and be willing to share with others.
7. Learn How To Measure Results
There are powerful (and free) analytics tools which allow you to track a site or blog visitors journey through your website and social media. Learn how to use these tools. You will get really good at understanding how to maximise your website's potential and the results should be readily apparent.
The internet presents filmmakers a whole new opportunity for engaging audiences with your work. The effort in learning and maintaining this is not glamorous. It is hard, grungy work.
At least you can keep your hands clean, depending of course on teh status of your keyboard.
Hope this helps,