Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2011

April 7, 2011
posted by sheric

Once a year, the Social Media Examiner issues a report on the state of social media. I have pulled out a few of their findings that you may find useful in navigating the marketing of your film in the social media world. Please note, the participants come from different industries, not specifically media. Also, these findings do not mean that you have to strictly follow them. All projects are unique and have unique audiences. What works for one film/product will not automatically mean success for yours. Comments in parentheses are personal.

-75% of all Americans use social media. (if you haven’t started an account, it’s time!)

-nearly 25% of all online time is spent on social media sites.

-of the more than 3,000 survey participants, 1/2 have less than one year’s experience using social media for marketing.

-63% of people with 3 or more years of experience spend more than 10 hours a week doing social media activitie.s (I’m more like more than 10 hours a day!)

-The number one benefit of social media marketing is standing out in an increasingly noisy world.

-Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs were the top four social media tools used by marketers, with Facebook leading the pack. All of the other social media tools paled in comparison to these top four.

-At least 73% of marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube/video, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. A significant 86% said they have no plans to utilize MySpace or
will reduce their efforts.

-A mere 40% of businesses plan on increasing their social bookmarking activities, only 36% of businesses will increase their forum activities.

-30% of marketers plan on increasing their use of geolocation services like Foursquare. Larger businesses are more likely to employ geolocation.

-Only 19% of marketers plan on  increasing their use of Groupon or a similar group-shopping site.

-Asked if they were outsourcing any of their social media marketing efforts, the overwhelming majority said no, though the number of those who are outsourcing  has doubled since the 2010 report, from 14% to 28%. (curious until I saw the next stat)

-Design and development, content creation and analytics are the top three areas that  social media marketers are outsourcing. Those with 3 or more years experience are more likely to outsource design and development tasks. (Interesting, those with more experience don’t outsource content creation).

-Top three other types of marketing being utilized included email marketing, search engine optimization and event marketing.

-Slightly less than half (46%) plan on increasing their online advertising efforts. Large businesses (1000 or more employees) were most likely to increase online advertising.

-80% of marketers plan on either keeping the same levels or increasing their use of press releases. Small businesses were significantly more likely to employ press releases than larger ones.

-A significant 55% of marketers either have no plans to use or will decrease their use of print ads.

-Most marketers (68%) have no plans to use radio ads. Only 10% of businesses with 500 employees or more plan on increasing their use of television ads.

Don’t Automate Your Feed

February 19, 2011
posted by sheric

A few months back I wrote a post addressing the calling out of people on Twitter for not autofollowing and how autofollowing is a bad idea. In fact, I said that I do not advocate using any automated programs for social media. It is surprising to me that so many social networking “experts” encourage their clients to do this. I realize that your time is often limited and having conversations with people is not your number one priority for your business. It is so much easier to broadcast out one way communication and that is why these automated tools have become so popular. Consider this, if you don’t have time for relationship building with your audience, don’t use social media. It is ok not to use it. Buy media advertising, set up a static website, use direct mail, these are all tools too and they are much more suited to the one sided broadcasting you are looking for than pretending with a bot.

Ways to spot a bot (which you are if you are using automated programs; you aren’t there see?)

-Your following to follower ratio is 1:1 and both numbers are high-You seriously can’t be having conversations with the 50,000 people you are following!

-You have the same message on your Facebook page, your Linkedin page, your Twitter stream, your Flickr account, you Tumblr account. Perhaps you think the connections you have on each of those sites is completely different. Have you considered that some of those people are the same and they get sick of seeing the same message from you 4 times? Stop broadcasting into the void and start speaking only when you have something unique to say on each platform.

-You seem to have a canned message ready for different times of day, every day. Do you seriously sit down and plan out what message you want to put out by the hour, every day? Do you do this in real life too? If you did, you would be very difficult to have a conversation with, mostly because you would shout out something and immediately leave the room, right? That is what you are doing when you “schedule” a Tweet or a Facebook update.

People, please listen. Social networking is SOCIAL. If you don’t have time in the day for a little social interaction with your audience/fans/clients, then don’t use these tools. They won’t work well for you. And for goodness sake, don’t pay someone to teach you how to automate your accounts and encourage you to sound like a robot! If you just have to automate, it is simple to find a free tutorial on how to use automated programs.

I personally think you will be missing out by not devoting some time in your day for social interaction, there is a lot to learn from real people on social media sites. You have to make time to do this work or have someone on your team who devotes quite a lot of attention to it [but I really think YOU should do it too]. For many people, this is how they discover new things. Not from being broadcast to, but from asking questions and getting responses, reading what their peers say, gravitating to sites where interaction is happening, getting valuable information from sites and people who are knowledgeable.

Just don’t pretend you’re engaging. Your automation fools no one.

Is Facebook Marketing a Waste of Time?

February 5, 2011
posted by sheric

the sales process funnel

It was a question posed in the comments of a Mashable article on tablet commerce and how much ecommerce is happening via tablets and via social sites like Facebook. A Forrester Research poll was highlighted in the article showing “less than 40% [of retailers] have been able to’quantify the return on this investment [social networks], and even fewer have found that social networks grow their business. To the degree that retailers find any benefit at all from social strategies, it is most frequently driven by tactics like ratings and reviews on a website rather than activities on social networks… Social networks, in fact, ranked dead last on a list of 10 customer acquisition tactics.” It leads me to question, is Facebook a good place to be selling?

As a retailer, and if you are trying to sell DVD’s/downloads you are a retailer, I don’t think it is a good place to focus on selling or to make sales from the site. Selling is of course your ultimate business goal, but Facebook and other social platforms are places where people go to socialize, spend time with their friends, share pieces of their lives. Do you think that is a good time to solicit your products, interrupt the experience by shoving merch in someone’s face saying “buy this?” Would you do that in real life, go to a backyard barbeque with a trunk full of DVDs and walk around the yard asking people to buy one? Some of you might, but then you would never be asked back. Likely, you would go to the barbeque and socialize, subtly finding out who are the likely buyers of your product, you might even give them a card (if they ask, and they will if interested) to continue this conversation and get additional information in another location. You have to look at this as a process where social networking is at the initial contact and ongoing fact finding phase. There are many tools in the sales arsenal, all with a different purpose. Use the right tool for the job.

Social networking sites are for acquiring and cultivating relationships. Generally in the sales cycle, this is the top of the funnel. You should start a sales process by inviting people into your funnel. How do you do that? You research and find the most likely people interested in what you will be selling. Initially this could be a wide, diverse group. This is  best done long before you are actually ready to sell something (preproduction/production). You will be moving these people through the funnel on the way to buying something, but it will be a slow process and not all of them will end up buying. That’s why the funnel starts out big at the top and narrows down. Lots of people will initially be interested and gather in the top part. As the process wears on and you start to hone in on the ones most interested in what you are selling, the amount of people reduces. Facebook and the like are for your initial gathering, the tool to use at the start of your process.

The next phase will lead them to your website where the conversation continues, but not everyone will make that transition. Some may continue to only hang out on your FB page, some may fall away completely. You still have to have a presence there. Some may do both and these are likely your best customers, the people most enthusiastic about your work. They will bring others to the page and speak so highly of their involvement with you, they will help transition the community to the website. Take special care of these people.

As you continue to build and foster your audience on social networking platforms like Facebook, try to resist the urge to hurry them along through the sales process. Someone who feels rushed (or used) to buy something will not stay long on your page. Film is a luxury product, the sales process will be longer and it will start with a relationship. A tab pointing the way to your website or store will serve to guide them to the next phase but should NOT be the landing page of your Facebook presence. People come to your page to find others, meet you, see what the project is all about, starting the relationship process. Don’t close off that communication by virtually saying “unless you are here to buy, we don’t want you here.” As the survey shows, audience/customers rarely buy on Facebook, but they do check you out there which is the first step in the sales process.

Insights from a crowdfunding campaign-Between Us

December 29, 2010
posted by sheric

Obviously, crowdfunding has become a very hot topic in the indie film world as a way to raise money for projects. I have seen more campaigns fail than succeed so I am always on the lookout for secrets to success. Who else can share that information but the ones who have done it? Director Dan Mirvish (Omaha-The Movie, Open House and co founder of the Slamdance Film Festival) generously agreed to share some secrets with me about his campaign. Dan has some great tips on what makes a campaign successful and he was able to raise over $14K for his film Between Us.

The film is based on the hit Off-Broadway play of the same name that premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2004 with a screenplay adapted by original playwright Joe Hortua and Dan. He spent some time talking to other filmmakers who had run campaigns both on Kickstarter and on Indiegogo and he chose to use Kickstarter because he was impressed by the amount of publicity they were getting, most notably from Time Magazine where they were named one of the 50 Best Inventions of 2010 and he thought more people outside of the independent film community might be familiar with Kickstarter which  might help with getting financial backing from investors too.

The campaign lasted only 30 days. It seemed just long enough to raise the money he needed, the goal was $10K, without completely nagging all of his supporters. One thing he does regret is not having a pitch video at the start of the campaign. Dan and I spoke often during the run of the campaign and I urged him to get a video up when I saw there wasn’t one in the early days.“Thirty days is not a lot of time if you only think to post a video in the second week. We really only had two weeks where we had a strong video up.  I don’t know if it ultimately it would have made a huge difference early on, but it did make a difference in the latter part,“ Dan said.

He gave some thought into what the video should show. “It was a real challenge in making the video because it wasn’t  a film we had any footage of , there wasn’t a short film it was based on, and I don’t act very well on camera or come across sincerely because most of my other projects have been very wacky and this is a departure from that. It is really important that the video is compatible with the tone of the film. For me, I had to make a video where you hear my voice, but you don’t see me talking. There were still pictures of me, much more sincere (laughs). So it had to be creative and show my talents at filmmaking. If you are selling yourself as a filmmaker and the first thing people see is this Kickstarter video, that video had better be good. I looked at a lot of videos before I made mine and I thought ‘oh my god if I have to look at one more pasty faced filmmaker asking for money, I’m going to throw up!’  Some are done well, but a lot are not and I was thinking ‘wait, this is a filmmaker and he can’t even shoot a good promo video?’  A good piece of advice, that I did not do and struggled with, is try to come up with the video BEFORE you start the campaign.”

The whole of this interview will be available starting Jan 1 in Microfilmmaker Magazine. Here are a few highlights:

-a tip for using Facebook; “set [the campaign] up as an event, invite friends to the ‘event,’ and then it is possible to send updates to everyone invited, even if they don’t initially respond.”

-a tip for choosing perks; “I offered an imdb credit at the $25 level.  For those in the industry, having an imdb credit, even a thank you, is valuable.” Plus, it costs nothing but time to fulfill.

-a tip on how to look at the campaign; ” The campaign wasn’t just about raising the money on Kickstarter, it was about the momentum. It wasn’t  just the individual amounts we raised, but leveraging that into much bigger investments.”

-a tip about the timing for the Kickstarter launch; “I knew that I wanted the campaign to be finished about the time that other filmmakers would start hearing about being accepted to the major festivals [Sundance, Slamdance and Berlin] and many of them would be using Kickstarter to raise funds to travel to the festivals. I wanted to be out before that rush hit.”

-a tip on continuing to raise money after the campaign is finished; ““About 2 minutes before the end of the deadline, I edited the text proposal on my Kickstarter page and told people that if they missed the deadline, there are still ways you can contribute financially. After the campaign ends, you can’t edit the page anymore even though the page stays up.”

Check out the whole of the article next Saturday.

Studios such as WB and Lionsgate have leverage with the Cable MSOs and work to  get films marketed and New Video has marketing leverage with iTunes. New Video  works via social media outreach by disseminating a release with images & clips  to sites such as Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon and posts a release on PR distribution sites (ClickPress, i-Newswire, eCommWire, The Open Press) along with feed-based announcements on Google blog search, Technorati, Yahoo! News, Topix etc., tagged with keywords for easier discovery. They also claim to do online grassroots outreach, email marketing and trailer and clip tagging.

Gravitas notes that its PR firms and staff release information about new titles to key websites and bloggers and they utilize what they call “VOD Guide Optimization” where they utilize  relationships with operators to raise the profile of certain Gravitas titles.

Distribber makes it clear that the marketing is up to the filmmaker (and they are also referring our TFC Marketing Services), but all the revenue goes to the filmmakers with no backend percentages taken.

CRM cites the marketing it does and we’re not sure what it entails beyond the usual Facebook and Twitter announcements, but we’re looking into it.

Whichever aggregator you choose to work with, make sure you have either a very firm marketing plan in place and committed to and/or know that you need to deploy one yourself.

TFC Tidbit of the Day 10- Rental Platforms

July 9, 2010
posted by sheric

Popular rental platforms include iTunes, YouTube, and Virgin Media. Caution: Rental in due time. New Video, for example, notes seeing a clear cannibalization of DTO when Rental is turned on too soon. The number of people who will buy, just have to have it, are stronger if a rental release is delayed. If released at the same time, those that would have bought will rent if they can.

To keep up with all of our latest updates and news relevant to the world of digital distribution, check our Facebook business page.

TFC Tidbit of the Day 9-What’s Transactional?

July 7, 2010
posted by sheric

Download-To-Own (DTO) is a transactional platform. iTunes, Playstation, Xbox, Amazon VOD are all DTO sites.  iTunes and Xbox account for the majority of the non-cable revenue in the digital space, for now.

Several Hollywood studios have announced that they are doing deals with a new download-to-own store from DivX  and the site such that their movies will be playable on millions of DivX enabled devices.

To keep up with all of our latest updates and news relevant to the world of digital distribution, check our Facebook business page.