Facebook is not a good sales platform

May 18, 2011
posted by sheric

I covered this in a past entry, but more of this opinion was voiced on today’s Social Times blog. I’ve seen many new services like FlickLaunch and Dynamo Player configuring their platforms to sell on a film’s Facebook page and Warner Bros has started implementing their own Facebook movie rentals for US residents including Dark Knight, Inception, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Yogi Bear and Life as We Know It paid for with Facebook credit or $3. I’d love to see their sales figures, but remember that a huge advertising and marketing budget was spent on these titles and they have all gone well into the DVD window and beyond. Most indie movies will not have the same kind of demand because similar marketing efforts haven’t been made .

Facebook sales will not be your biggest money maker because people do not come to Facebook to buy.

Facebook is a social platform. People come to Facebook to chat with friends, see what everyone is up to, post news about themselves. While you may have amassed a large following on Facebook, unless you are posting content of interest to your audience on your page regularly, chances are your “fans” have not been back to your page since they joined. They won’t see your fancy Welcome page or your newly constructed BUY NOW page. Most people are only reminded of you if they see your news in their news feed. The news feed is the first page everyone lands on when they go to Facebook. Sometimes they only see the Top News view, even though it is possible to change that to Most Recent, most people do not. If they haven’t visited your page in a while or commented on any of your news, your page has stopped appearing in their feed. NOTE: I am not suggesting you spend all your time shilling for your film on your Facebook page in order to stay in the news feed. A conversation with a shill is boring and a turn off.

Even though you can buy ads to drive more traffic directly to your page, it will take a significant spend to generate the number of impressions someone needs to have before they click on it. On average, an ad will be seen 5-7 times before any action is taken. Facebook is more about attracting and keeping attention that can influenced into a sale later on than it is about making a sale right now.

As the Social Times article contends, social media platforms like Facebook are the top of your sales funnel, the place where relationships and trust are built. After you have accomplished this, and it will take a while, then you can transition your audience to your own website where the sales can take place (here’s where something like Dynamo Player will work). Yet another reason to start your social media efforts and audience building WELL in advance of your finished film. This isn’t a campaign for 3 months, this is commitment for the full life cycle of your film and continues into the length of your career.

So, should you never try and sell streams on your Facebook page?

Undoubtedly there are hundreds of millions of people on Facebook and it is entirely possible that someone will try your film out if they see it’s available. If the cost to set up Facebook streaming is right (ie, low to free), you aren’t losing anything to try, but do not invest a lot in this. As DVD’s popularity continues to plummet, more and more people will be turning to online streaming rentals. Invest in having a good player on your site and spending upfront to access iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and game consoles. Spend the majority of your time and effort on your content marketing to pull you audience in, earn their trust, make them feel connected and give them viewing options.

If anyone here has implemented a Facebook sales platform for film and it has resulted in great success, let’s here about it.

Dependence on Advertising is Lazy Marketing

May 9, 2011
posted by sheric

I realize that good marketing is made up of a mix of tools. One of those tools is advertising and it is probably the easiest to use and the most expensive. In order to get attention for every window of release, Hollywood studios spend buckets of money on advertising because it is the quickest and least painful way to get attention. Do they realize that they are not building any lasting assets for their company when they do this? They are renting space over and over instead of retaining consumer attention that they can stimulate again and again. But that takes work and when the budget is reduced (or gone), access to the rental space is reduced too.

I’m sure you know that your website is the biggest piece of online real estate you own. You control it and when you attract audience attention, it is up to you to keep it and to keep in touch for the future. Studios don’t do this. They really don’ t see it as useful to contact audience directly or to hear directly from them. Just have a look at the Warner Bros. site as an example. You can fill out a survey that basically asks you to be their web designer. You can click on the Facebook link which takes you to their page where they have hundreds of thousands of likes. But look at how the page is used. Just advertising the titles.  A few comments are left but rare that they ever answer them. To connect is damn hard work and if you can just buy everything, why bother?

But I’m thinking indie filmmakers can’t buy everything, you can’t just buy an audience. This is why you need to pull an audience to you rather than push a message out. Pulling is much harder than pushing, much more time and much more work. Think of this pulling as building assets to continue to attract and add value to your audience so you can minimize the amount of cash spent on renting advertising space and so you can build and maintain a sustainable audience.

What’s an asset?  A strong website that has heavy traffic derived from SEO, link authority and interesting content. A blog that repeatedly attracts the interest of your audience because you know what they are interested in and you find or create information to give them. This builds your email signup list and RSS subscriptions (the basic message here is they WANT to hear from you, you have their permission to communicate with them). A social media presence that attracts a like minded community to your work. Communities expand over time. If you are working for the long term, you want this continued expansion.

Why are these assets? Because in order to monetize your work, first you have to  build up interest in what you do and a network of people who want to support you. It is you, your talent and your knowledge that keeps them coming back, not a PPC ad, not a half baked contest. YOU and what you have to share.

It’s going to entail work and lots of time though.

New Video-They are choosy about the films they represent and they charge 15% of all revenue generated.

IndieFlix- They go through New Video and charge a 30% Fee on all revenue generated (we think that’s inclusive of the New Video fee but are waiting to confirm).

Indie Rights- They go through New Video and charge a 20% fee in addition to the New Video fee.

IndieRights and IndieFlix also work with platforms other than iTunes as do we at TFC so that should be factored in when making distribution decisions.

Tunecore-Aggregates straight to iTunes. Distribber uses Tunecore to access iTunes. Distribber charges a flat fee of $1,295 for iTunes and all the revenue flows back to the filmmaker, no backend fees. TFC uses Tunecore and works with Distribber as a partner (we are working with them for no extra charge to filmmakers).

Gravitas- A VOD / digital aggregator (who often goes through Warner Bros), they will handle your iTunes submission, but that’s two fees (each at 15% as we understand it and they claim that Warner Bros and studios in general get better revenue even from Apple).

Warner Bros and Lionsgate- TFC works with Lionsgate and it seems that both have more marketing leverage (as does New Video)  to get best promotion possible on iTunes. This can make a big difference and should be factored in along with analysis of backend splits and fees.

TFC works with both the flat fee and commission models because of the fact that when cable VOD or even sometimes DVD is a valuable option, regular digital often goes with them.