Marketing Indie Films With YouTube (Part 2)
How do you generate YouTube views?
48 hours of video are posted to YouTube EVERY MINUTE. There's no way your videos are just going to be stumbled upon, right?
There are three basic ways to drive eyeballs to your videos.
1. Share them across social networks, and encourage others to do the same.
2. Get postings and links from websites that already have large audiences.
3. Advertise your videos online and on mobile devices.
Our company BELIEVE does a proprietary combination of all three for clients large and small.
I know those three bullets are vague, but we are currently writing an eBook on the subject and we can't give away everything. But that should tell you just how rich the subject is- there's enough material on executing the above three steps to literally fill a book.
Some examples of films BELIEVE has worked on that worked well via YouTube marketing:
Here are two excellent examples of YT marketing that we have worked on:
Ari and his team created an entire 70-video YouTube promotional campaign featuring original videos, deleted scenes, constant updates and interaction- all free to the end user. Their videos have received over 500K views, gained over 3,000 subscribers, and three of his videos even reached the front page of YouTube, officially going viral. The YouTube fan base has led to stronger DVD and digital sales.
♦My film, The Graduates
The Graduates was the #1 comedy on Hulu for months, and remains in the Top 10 all-time after two years. We’re competing with major studio films and stars and have held our ground for two full years. Though filmmakers remain skeptical about Hulu, we’ve had a wonderful, profitable experience there, and the hundreds of thousands of people who have seen our film have in many cases followed us across social media, bought the film or the soundtrack, and remained responsive to the projects we’ve released since meeting them. The majority of our viewers discover the film through a few consistently updated YouTube channels and web series.
Two of the strongest performing videos are linked here. Notice that they appear to have nothing to do with the film or product they’re selling:
♦ Marketing Adventures of Power with a Halloween music video; 197,000+ views; officially viral, making it to the Front Page of YouTube.
♦Marketing 1800Recycling with funny “Fail” videos; 3,000,000+ views; Three videos went officially viral, making it to the Front Page of YouTube.
There are two of over 100 pieces of content we've taken viral for clients big and small. Couple this with a consistent output of content and some audience interaction, and you have an active and growing subscriber base.
"Why does this matter, or how does this help?" are the questions we hear most often when explaining the value of a successful viral video or web series to a potential client. Taking the examples above, there's obvious value in getting hundreds of thousands of people to interact with your material. Couple that with a widely available film, and the viral video that had nothing to do with your movie just became a great ad for you and the film. People who are truly entertained by the viral video will visit your channel and poke around, and that's when they're most receptive to marketing materials like the trailer. You've won them over by not marketing at them, and now they will seek out your marketing.
As the price of digital goods rapidly drops toward zero, filmmakers who build an audience on YouTube will have a huge advantage when it comes time to ask people to pony up for a ticket, a download, a soundtrack or a t-shirt, because not only will they want to spend (to help you keep producing content) they'll also share the videos, becoming advocates who advertise on your behalf.
What are some good benchmarks in terms of reasonable numbers to shoot for in terms of trailer views?
This is a complicated question, because we can assist clients in getting any amount of views, so it completely depends on two things: your budget, and your audience. If you've spent time developing an audience, you have to spend a lot less to get and keep people interested, which is why we provide so much (and such specific) advice on audience development before, during and after filming. If you've done nothing to develop an audience, it's going to cost money to get real eyeballs on your marketing material.
Simply uploading a trailer to YouTube is a good step- it's about as basic and necessary as a website- but it doesn't guarantee a single view. I would focus the benchmarks on content creation and interaction with fans- try to create and upload one new piece each week for a year. If you have a good concept and you interact with fans, your material will stand out, because you're a filmmaker, after all, making interesting content is your life.
Any other good marketing platforms you work with to market films?
We use Twitter and Facebook, of course, but there is no silver bullet. You must create content and interact with fans.
The digital revolution continues to bring prices down, but the upside is that the same outlets that bring prices down also corral audiences into niches. 85% of the country visits YouTube, every conceivable niche is represented there, and they're all looking for entertaining content. It can be a massive platform for any filmmaker.
Another upside of the digital and social media revolution is that with so many on-demand options, audiences are seeking and finding more and more independent films, months and years after their release and sharing their discoveries with friends. The need for an "opening weekend" is moot.
Don't get me wrong, if you can have a big opening weekend anywhere, take it. But if not, your movie on Netflix or Hulu will look just as fresh in a year as it does today. We advise clients to keep their YouTube and social media presence just as vibrant and fresh two years after their release as on Day 1.
Releasing an indie film today is much closer to opening a small web-based business than it is to releasing a studio film.