16 Social Media Tips For Indie Filmmakers


Earlier this summer, Sundance Institute and the Austin Film Society presented our second annual #ArtistServices workshop in Texas. Aimed at empowering creators navigating the changing business of distribution and marketing, the day-long event featured one session focused on the back-end management of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, and posed the question, “How do indie artists harness and navigate the shifting landscape while balancing their time and creative energy?” Here are a few of the takeaways we hope might help you.

1) Honor The Platform

“Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. all operate differently. Respect the platforms by differentiating your content on each social media channel. Facebook can post more characters than Twitter, Instagram tags people and organizations differently than Facebook, YouTube viewers come to the site committed to watching a full video while Facebookers might want shorter, more “snackable” content. So think twice about linking what you post on one platform to the other.” Annie Bush, Producer and Consultant

2) Provide Some Behind The Scenes

“It’s never too early to start Tweeting about your film. 45% OF USERS said they want backstage content on Twitter as soon as a film goes into production.” Rachel Dodes, Film Partnerships for Twitter

“Films/Movies are part if this mystical, seemingly far-off world to people who aren’t filmmakers. Provide access to the filmmaking process with behind the scenes, get-to-know the filmmakers, regular updates, personal videos, to break down the distance between fans and their involvement in your film. Make the people behind the mystery of film real and relatable.” Annie Bush, Producer and Consultant

3) Variety Of Content

“Consider yourself a provider of services: the job of your page is to provide interesting, engaging, educational content. When someone likes your page it’s because they want content from you. Instead of posting the same kind of things on your pages, vary the kind of content you post to keep your followers loyal to you. Provide a combination of behind the scenes photos, selfie videos, press and fun film updates, related articles, flashback content, interactive posts, etc.” Annie Bush, Producer and Consultant

4) Native Uploads

“Facebook has prioritized their native video uploads in their algorithm, stop fighting and take advantage of it. Here’s the stats: http://bit.ly/1HQhVRI
Nathan Levinson, Sundance Institute Social Media Manager

5) Never Underestimate The Power of Email

“Email is still the most direct way to reach people and converts 3x better than social media. Build your website to have a splash page (like Upworthy’s) where fans can enter their email to sign up for alerts. We like NationBuilder.” Tiffany Shlain, Filmmaker and Producer

“Social media is a necessary component of grassroots marketing, but email is still responsible for most crowdfunding donations. Don’t forget that email efforts must still go on behind the scenes of social media campaigning.” Annie Bush, Producer and Consultant

6) Tag Them Photos

“Twitter will let you tag photo attachments with up to 10 handles – what!?!? Yes! Why aren’t you doing that on every attachment (only applies to native Twitter right now but well worth the effort – and it doesn’t apply against your 140 character limit).” Nathan Levinson, Sundance Institute Social Media Manager

7) Tweet At Those Who Tweet At You

“Make a Twitter List of people you want to target for social support, and monitor that list. Tweet at them right after they tweet – it means they’re on their phone, right this second, and they’re far more likely to respond or RT your project.” Ryan Koo, Filmmaker

8) Keep Handles Consistent

Make it easy for people to find you anywhere on the internet. Marketing materials will look clean and slick when there is a consistent username for all your social media, website and blog channels online.

9) Break the Internet

“If you’re going to launch a page or an idea, get a team together to blast the page or campaign all at the same time. Break the internet (your circles’ feeds) so they can’t ignore the content you’re putting out there.” Annie Bush, Producer and Consultant

10) Experiment, Dudes

“You can’t learn nothing till you try – see Ryan Gosling.” Casey Warnick, Social Media Director for Alamo Drafthouse

(Editor’s Note: when Alamo Drafthouse launched their Snapchat channel, they weren’t sure what they were getting into. But they dove in and asked Ryan Gosling to be a part of it anyway. Here is a compilation of their inaugural “snaps” – which even though it didn’t go as planned, still made some authentic good content. Not being afraid to fail can sometimes make you an unexpected expert when new things come along, like Snapchat and Meerkat and Periscope.)

11) Listicles

“Think about the presentation of copy, don’t give it all away at once – create a secondary action or click thru to drive back to your own site or for users to take the action you want. Reverse engineer a tease into a click.” Nathan Levinson, Sundance Institute Social Media Manager

12) Face Time

“One-on-one connections are more important than ever these days. With so much social interaction happening online, people are craving in-person connections. During a campaign, schedule parties, events, panels, talk-backs, etc. to get in front of a group of people to talk about your project and make that heart-to-heart connection.” Annie Bush, Producer and Consultant

13) Harness Internet Trends

“(#TBT) or relevant news (#TheDress) to connect back to the mothership of your content.” –David Charles, Director, Mythical Creatures

14) Rotate Links In Bio

“Instagram will famously not let you place links in your captions, but there is one link you can include on Instagram – the one you have in the profile or bio section of your account. When you have a Pre-Order on iTunes, or VHX, or when the film is showcased in some important way, rotate that bio or profile link (and this could apply to Twitter too) – that prominent and most important piece of real estate should always be pointing to the most important relevant and urgent link. It’s a super-simple and easy-breezy way to make sure your bio is working for you, 24/7.” Nathan Levinson, Sundance Institute Social Media Manager

15) Lock In Those Partnerships

“Tap into the fans, email lists and constituents of the numerous organizations and groups who are passionate about what’s in your film (children’s stories, environmentalism, LGBT issues, freedom of speech, etc.). Contact these organizations personally to develop official partnerships where you both can benefit. Regularly share, like and promote these organizations’ content online.” Annie Bush, Producer and Consultant

16) Say It With Words

Lauren Michaels, Community Marketing Pinterest


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