By Brad Wilke
As an independent content creator (or filmmaker, if you’re old school), it’s imperative that you own your audience. Gone are the days when you can rely on a distributor, film festival, or aggregator to do the work of building awareness, selling tickets, or getting people to care about what you made.
And that’s the good news.
With the tools and resources available today, there’s never been a better time to launch a career as an independent filmmaker. It could be as easy as picking up your phone, grabbing a few friends, and spending a weekend shooting a feature film. You could also take the time to develop the script, plan the shoot, and rehearse the actors beforehand in hopes of making something that stands out from the crowd. And it’s the same with your digital strategy.
Most filmmakers don’t launch their film’s digital strategy until they begin to prep for their festival premiere, which is much too late for it to have any real impact. Savvy filmmakers get started in pre-production, and their strategy includes objectives and key metrics that connect their engagement efforts with their overall goals for both the film as well as their burgeoning filmmaking careers.
Your objectives should include words like “increase,” “establish,” and “engage,” and your key metrics should focus on rates, not raw numbers. For instance, engagement rate trumps post “likes,” and audience growth rate is a better indicator of success than total page likes.
There’s a big difference between community management (which typically includes updating channels and responding to comments) and digital strategy, which connects your community management tactics with your overall film (and career) goals. One without the other can only get you so far; you need both to be successful.
Of course, something is better than nothing, but if you’re willing to take the time to build an audience via a value-added digital strategy that not only promotes your film, but participates in the broader #indiefilm conversations, you’ll find, over time, that you’ve created a sustainable audience base from which to launch new projects, monetize finished ones, and support the work of fellow filmmakers.
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About Brad Wilke:
Brad Wilke (@jbwilke) is an award-winning filmmaker, produced feature-length screenwriter, and film programmer for the Seattle International Film Festival. Brad holds an MBA from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, as well as a Master of Communication in Digital Media from the UW.
About Smarthouse Creative:
Smarthouse Creative is a full-service publicity and digital strategy agency that works with independent content creators (and organizations that support them) to amplify and promote good work to appreciative and engaged audiences. Team Smarthouse is Ryan Davis, Jessica Marx, and Brad Wilke.