I found this great article today on ways to get the support of social media influencers. It made me think about this topic in more ways than just social media influencers. Every film and every filmmaker needs to find influential people to help support and champion them, but what can you do to motivate those people to do it, to take action, to spread the word? Not an easy answer because every one is different, motivated by different things. Some by money (you pay them), some by reciprocity (cross promotion) and some by a cause they can feel good about. The first of the 5 ways mentioned in the article is this cause approach and I think it is a key factor. People don’t champion a company’s product or a film product, they champion either the people behind it or a cause they believe in getting behind. Let’s think about your film as a cause.

I know I have said this before, but it is worth repeating. NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR FILM. If your message is all about your film, how great it is, let me tell you about it, that conversation with an influencer will last about 10 seconds. Talking incessantly about your film is a one way communication and you have to buy that kind of communication, it is called advertising, or in the sense of an influencer, it is called paying a spokesperson to talk about it. These aren’t the type of influencers I am talking about for indie filmmakers. What is it about your film that would make people interested? Is there any reason someone should want to know the story? Can you appeal to their selfish nature in any way? By this I mean, what will they get out of either being associated with the film (what does championing it say about them?) or how does it push their agenda (is there a cause at the root of the story?)? Is there a way to make people want to be associated with your project because it is for the greater good?

One example I have for this is not from the film world, but from the coffee world. If you think about it, how many people really talk about the kind of coffee they drink? ¬†How could, say, Starbucks inspire you to talk about their coffee to your friends? Starbucks is fairly ubiquitous, most people know about their stores and what they sell. What innovative ways does Starbucks inspire people to talk about their brand in their social circles? One campaign they ran did just that. Starbucks gets some of their coffee from African growers. To show their commitment to that relationship in human terms, they ran a campaign to raise awareness and funds for people suffering from HIV in Africa. The LOVE campaign donates a portion of sales to the Global Fund for HIV treatment in Africa. While Starbucks worked with large advertising agency BBDO to coordinate this event by doing a simulcast sing along of the Beatles’ song ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE with groups from all over the globe, you could do something similar either recording videos of fans yourselves or asking for UGC submissions to help a cause that is in some way of concern to the fans of your film. Starbucks had an African tie to their product. What tie can you think of and cultivate? This example shows a win win situation. Starbucks gets people to feel good about supporting their brand, buying their coffee, and getting behind a worthy cause and the innovative way they do it is a conversation piece and a great publicity hook for press coverage. And the choice of song is a tune everyone knows and ties into the cause of spreading love.

A film example I can give is for a documentary called Food Matters. I have mentioned this film on Facebook and in some presentations I have given. Not only did the producers of Food Matters sell over 100,000 DVDs on their own, DIY like, they also have a very active Facebook presence. They don’t just have an impressive fan count, but they truly see their film as a movement. It is rare that they ever post news on their film on that page. They allow their fans to post content, they answer posts, they put information relevant to both their film and to the interests of their fan base, consistently updating and communicating with them. This engaging content continues over on their home site as well where they have their own TV channel filled with Youtube videos they have mined to suit the interests and the topics covered in their films. They don’t make all of that content, they only search for items made by others that their fans might be interested in and aggregate it together. Their fans feel empowered with new knowledge and the feeling of being part of a movement to better health. There is a lot of sharing going on in the Food Matters community. This engagement helps sales of the film but gives the community a resource to keep coming back to.

These examples serve as an illustration for how you can get leaders of communities that are aligned with the topics covered in your film to pay attention to what you are doing and feel open to helping you get attention from your target audience. Simply sending them a synopsis and a trailer is not going to cut it. Asking them to endorse you isn’t very motivating. You have to dig deep, look at the underlying themes your film covers and find some synthesis with a cause that people want to get behind in an interactive way. This takes some creativity, some real thought about what motivates people. Think about how your film can make the world a better place, if only a little bit.

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