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Facebook Is Making Your Film Marketing Invisible

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If a filmmaker makes a film and doesn’t create a Facebook fan page for it, does that film even exist?

Given the common wisdom these days, it sure as hell feels as though the answer to that is “no.” Whether starting in pre-production, production, post-production or release, the creation of a Facebook fan page for a film is a given at this stage of the Internet game.

The general advice, of course, is to start the Facebook fan film page as early in the production process as possible, that way a filmmaker — or her PR rep or whomever — can build up a fan base through regular postings, then that fan base will then storm the theaters demanding to see the actual film when it’s finished.

The good part about updating for Facebook is that posting status updates is easy. They don’t take much time or thought, so a good stream of constant updates is possible.

Now, here’s the bad part.

Facebook knows that each of its members has probably liked several hundred pages and probably has a couple hundred “friends.” (P.S. If you have less than 100 Facebook friends, you are, most likely, a loser.) Facebook then also knows that it is totally impossible to keep up with the constant updates from all of those pages and all of those friends.

So, Facebook does its damnedest to hide the stuff you really want to see from you.

First, Facebook makes “Top News” the default landing stream wherein the top news is the status updates that receives the most interactions. Then, Facebook develops algorithms to figure out whom they think you are most interested in hearing from based on your interactions with certain people’s status updates.

For example, your best friend in the “real world” may post nothing but trivial status updates that you have no interest in “liking.” But, a former co-worker you barely remember might write horrific racist rants that you can’t help yourself from leaving angry comments to.

Then, in Facebook land, their algorithms will transform your racist former co-worker into your best friend; while your real best friend gets dropped right the hell out of your feed.

Applying this to your film’s Facebook page, you need to make it more like a racist co-worker than a boring best friend. If you’re not inspiring “Likes” and “Comments” for your page’s status updates, your film is going to become invisible to your fans.

Who are your “fans” anyway? If you’re still only in pre-production or if you’ve gone into shooting, then your film’s fans are most likely people you already know personally. If Facebook is your only means of promotion, how are new fans going to find your film?

The concept of putting up a Facebook page for a film, posting a few status updates and expecting hordes of fans to come flocking to that page who will then storm movie theaters is, for the most part, a major fantasy. If you build it, they will not come. Soon, the concept of the “easy Facebook updating” form of promotion will turn into the drudge work of slavishly having to post stuff constantly that begs for “Likes” and “Comments,” trolling for new fans by posting on other pages, begging current fans to beg their friends to become new fans, and so on. And, oh yeah, you do have a film to make at the same time, right?

So, do you still make that Facebook fan film page? You better! If you don’t, your film doesn’t exist, right?

The Facebook fan page is a necessary evil, but it’s not a nirvana for film promotion. It, just like every other kind of film promotion, is hard work. Plus, every day it seems that the signal-to-noise ratio of junk on the Internet is increasing. We are, as some experts predict, heading into a dangerous world of information overload and intense fragmentation.

Your film may “exist” because you have made that Facebook fan film page for it, but if you’re not the hot topic du jour or of the minute or of the nano-second on the ‘net, your film is still going to be buried from sight.

Honestly, this article has taken a much more downbeat note than I had intended. Facebook film popularity success is possible. Just look at how engaging the page for the I Am Divine documentary is. Of course, that doc has the popularity of Divine built into it, but whomever is posting status updates there gets how to keep its audience motivated, mostly by posting non-Divine status updates lately.

Just consider all of this a forewarning, I guess, and understand that Facebook is actually built to work against you. To combat that:

1. Post constantly, at least once or twice a day.
2. Make those posts interesting enough to get people to “Like” and “Comment” on this.
3. Promote your film, but not to the point that your fans will get sick of you. Post about all kinds of stuff.

Underground Film Feedback (3 comments)

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  • Wow, this really leads into a quagmire. The Facebook thing is really very dangerous to creativity. There are subtle changes that occur in one’s thinking. It’s sort of like having an audience present in the room while you do your private work. Very dangerous. Exceedingly so.

    I’ve considered my dalliance with Facebook to be an experiment for the past year… one that is failing, by the way. But I am a loser of course. I don’t network well, so my friend list is tiny. I’m not sure that I would create a Facebook page for any specific film unless some future investor forced me to.

    I think it might be better to make the film and not worry if it just sits in a drawer for thirty years. Already, I am beginning to get bad vibes off of Facebook pages for films. There’s something very uncool about them. Lots of back slapping and cheerful encouragement when in fact a little artistic jealousy would be healthier and more honest. Filmmakers should work more the way painters do. You make the thing and you stack it against the wall. Later on, if you sell it, well then good for you. But today’s filmmaking is really not much more complicated than writing a book.

    I find that usually the whole Facebook/film thing is played by people trying to seem ‘industry.’

    Obviously, I approach Facebook with a very stiff arm.

    • Oh, it’s a big ass quagmire all right.

      Many of my favorite films and filmmakers of recent years don’t have Facebook fan pages and that’s just fine. This article, of course, is directed at filmmakers who do care about this sort of thing, who are, for the most part as you indicate “industry oriented.” I like writing articles for them, too.

      I have a tentative relationship with Facebook myself. I like using it just as another source of news updates from filmmakers, film festival programmers, etc. For example, it’s one place I can learn quickly that a fest has made their lineup available or I learn about screenings and other news from filmmakers that I can write articles about.

      But, with the way Facebook hides things, even though I’ve figured out how to use their own tools to circumvent such hiding, all the good people I want to hear from get buried and I never see their updates. That’s irritating.

      (Also, I get sick of my Facebook feed being cluttered up by the breaking news that someone has changed their profile picture. WHO EFFIN’ CARES!!??)

      Really, though, my main objection to Facebook is that I don’t like giving them my writing for free. I’m trying to make a career at this Internet game, so if I’m going to write anything, I’m going to do it right here on this website and stick my own ad next to it. I barely post free “status updates” ever. Even Bad Lit’s Facebook fan page is just an automatic regurgitator of the site’s feed.

  • Yeah, I agree with keeping your writing focused on your own site. Much better that way. Facebook is just way too list oriented. But I do find great things by dipping into the stream that flows from just 38 friends! Amazing what I find that way.

    My problems with Facebook are really just interior problems with the way my own mind works when confronted with Facebook. I have no real logical issues with ‘industry’ people when they are actually working to make something good. It is really just that I have to be careful about wondering what my Facebook friends might like to hear on any given day. No artist should ever be interested in someone pressing a ‘like’ button. Never. But of course, an artist can separate the creative work from the publicity work, I suppose.

    But in general, I find the slight shift of thinking toward what people might like on Facebook to be unhealthy while engaged in the actual artistic production.

    Very interesting subject. I think this post is highly unusual and quite important for filmmakers to ponder.

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