Tired of sharing your film across social media and no one paying attention?
Looking for a way to get your film in front of people who will actually care?
You’ve come to the right place, my internet friend.
By the time you get through this article, you’ll know how to harness the power of facebook groups as a promotional tool.
Not only that, but you’ll know how to do it in a way that’s not spammy. And you’ll know how to engage people in a way that leads to them actually wanting to see your film.
Sound good? Let’s dig in.
Looking at groups through the eyes of an admin
For the past few years, I’ve been running a facebook group for Filmmaker Freedom.
Like most community admins, my goal is for it to be a place that’s genuinely helpful, where you can find useful content and supportive discussions.
That’s why I’m so irked by the endless stream of posts that are some variation of “Check out my film on Amazon. Here’s the link!”
No joke, that’s a solid 40% of the posts that get submitted these days.
And so I delete them. Because there’s no context. No value for the group. No reason for anybody to care.
Don’t get me wrong, though…
As entrepreneurial filmmakers, we have to promote ourselves and take charge of our marketing.
The days of “just make a great film and people will find it” are long gone. If you want to succeed in this landscape, you need to be both an artist and a marketer.
But randomly posting a link to your film in every imaginable place online is not the same thing as marketing.
That’s called being a spammer, and it does more harm than good.
Spamming actively harms your reputation. It undermines your goal of creating fans and generating revenue.
Luckily, facebook makes it easier than ever to practice marketing in a way that’s both respectful and effective.
With 2 billion active users, most of whom self-segment into groups based on their interests, facebook is the ultimate platform (though not the only one) for reaching niche audiences.
So I want to spend just a little time talking about how to effectively tap into this platform without coming across as spammy.
Filmmakers are not your primary audience
First things first. Filmmakers are probably not the target audience for your film.
Unless you made a film about filmmakers, just posting in a bunch of film-related facebook groups won’t do you much good.
Now, there’s a real art and science to finding the perfect niche audience. But for now, just consider this question.
Who are the people most like the main characters in my film?
You want to find groups online that will deeply connect with the characters, story, and themes of your movie. This is your target audience.
So start by breaking down your characters. Who are they? Where are they? What do they care about? What are the various aspects of their identities? What struggles are they facing? What are their values?
Once you have all of that in mind, start looking for groups who are full of those specific type of people.
Before ever posting in a group, listen and engage
The cardinal sin of facebook group marketing is just coming into a new group and posting a link to your film. Or even worse, doing it repeatedly.
Now, some groups do allow this, but it inevitably leads to the group becoming a dumping ground for self-promotional links. When that happens, people stop paying attention and leave.
The best facebook groups are actual communities, with people talking about the core ideas that brought them together.
So as a marketer, you need to observe and listen first.
What do the people in this group care about? What topics show up again and again? What types of posts do well, and what types get zero engagement? Do these folks seem to prefer images and videos, or text posts?
Pay attention to all of this stuff. Maybe jot down some notes, along with links to posts that perform well that you’d like to model when you create your own content.
But more than just listening, you also want to engage.
Talk to people in the group. Ask and answer questions. Be helpful. Share stories. And generally just be an active community member.
This builds trust with both the community and admins. It shows you’re not just another spammy jackass trying to take from the group without giving.
This way, when you actually do post about your film, you’ve already built up credibility and goodwill. And people will be far more likely to engage with you and your film.
Ideally you do all of this for a week or more. But even if you only spend a day or two just listening and engaging, you’ll be miles ahead of the spammers.
How to make effective posts
As I mentioned before, you learn how to make effective posts by listening to and engaging with the group.
That’s the end goal of this research phase, to find answers to questions like these…
How can you present your film in a context that makes sense for the group?
How can you create content that actually connects with these people?
What would this group love most about your film based on what you know about them?
So at this stage, once you’ve done that early work, your goal isn’t to promote your film directly, but create a piece of engaging content that promotes it indirectly.
For instance, you could share a screenshot from the film, along with a story about how one of the characters overcame an obstacle relevant to people in the group.
Or, you could pull a small scene from the film you know would resonate with this group, and share it with a bit of context.
Or, if you’re insistent on posting in filmmaking groups, share some lessons learned from the process of making this film.
Basically, give before you receive.
Then, once you’ve shared something worthwhile, you can often just share a link to your film on Amazon or wherever—at the end of the post, or in the comments.
But seriously, I can’t stress this point enough.
Make sure you deliver something engaging first. Make sure you create something that people will actually want to see in their timelines, something relevant to their interests and lives.
There are a ton of different permutations for how you could do this. But the golden rule is this.
If it’s something that you would ignore in your timeline, it’s probably not worth posting.
But if it’s something you’d like and engage with and comment on, then it’s worth going ahead with.
When in doubt, ask the admins
If you’re ever worried about whether or not your post would be ok, or if it would violate unwritten group guidelines, it’s always best to ask the admins.
As a community leader, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate when people do this.
It’s a sign of deference and respect, and it shows that you genuinely care about serving the community, as opposed to being a spammer.
9 times out of 10, you’ll either be free to post your thing, or you’ll get valuable feedback on how to be more relevant to the community.
There’s definitely more you could do to promote your work in groups.
You could create content that leads back to a website and email list. You could create bits of “micro content” based on those larger pieces. You could work with the admins or popular members to help you promote your film.
Again, lots of possibilities.
But no matter what you do, it all has to start from a place of respecting the group and giving its members what they came for.
They aren’t there for you to dump your work on them. They congregate because they’re looking for connection and content based on their interests.
Once you understand that, you’re in a position to deliver what they want, while also getting your film in front of people who will actually give a damn about it.
And that’s some of the most effective marketing there is.