October 10, 2023
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How to Promote a Film on Social Media

Shaudi Bianca Vahdat
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Movie marketing is a crucial part of the filmmaking process. No one will be able to watch your film or short if they don’t know about it! In 2023, independent filmmakers must understand how to promote a film on social media. Unless you’re working with a distributor or studio, or have the budget to hire a social media manager, you’ll need to plan your film advertising strategy yourself. 

With so many options out there, it can be hard to know which social media film marketing strategies to spend your film advertising budget and time on. Wrapbook is here to help. In this article, we’ll clarify what matters most in how to promote a film on social media. 

The importance of social media 

Why is social media so important in marketing your short or independent feature? For one thing, its reach is huge. According to a 2021 study by the Pew Research Center, 72% of American adults use some type of social media. Other sources‌ put that number at closer to 90%

Social media is also the rare form of film advertising where you don’t need a big budget to see results. If you follow social media best practices and consistently post engaging content, you can reach large numbers of people without spending a dime. 

Of course, not every film marketing campaign is going to go viral. The secret is that it doesn’t have to to be effective.

How to Promote a Film on Social Media - Wrapbook - New York
In this article we’ll outline strategies for how to promote a film on social media. SOURCE 

Finally, if used correctly, social media can help grow your audience base over time. If someone watches a TV spot for your film, you’ve made one impression on them. 

But if someone follows your account on, say, Instagram, you have the opportunity to make multiple impressions on them. If you’re able to keep them engaged, your reach to that person could extend beyond your current film advertising and into future projects as well. 

All that said, more “traditional” forms of promoting your film or short are still very much relevant. Check out our post on how to promote your short film for more on that. 

Here’s how to promote a film on social media  

Every project is unique. That means every project should have a unique film marketing plan. One tailored to its particular tone and goals. That said, there are some social media best practices to keep in mind that apply generally. These tips also apply when it comes to how to promote a short film on social media. 

First, decide on a primary goal for your marketing and connect it to a call to action. Want people to buy tickets to a screening? Put the times, dates, and links front and center in your social media bio. And put the ticket link again in your posts. 

How to Promote a Film on Social Media - Wrapbook - Marketing Goals
Not sure how to promote a short film on social media? Start by getting clear on your film marketing goals.  SOURCE 

Don’t make people dig for information regarding your film or short. Minimize the number of clicks or taps it takes to get people to complete your call to action. Make it easy for them to do what you want them to do! 

Pick your platforms 

With social media, you don’t have to be everywhere at once. Social media movie marketing is more accessible than other types of advertising, but it still takes time. You’ll need to budget time for creating content, planning, and posting. 

You’ll also need to account for the time it takes to engage on social media. At a minimum, that means responding to questions and comments on your posts and in your direct messages (DMs). 

People often underestimate that important follow-up time. As a result, they set themselves up on too many social media accounts and end up feeling spread thin. 

If you’ve got limited time to devote to your social media marketing, it’s ok to pick just a couple of platforms. Do you naturally gravitate to one platform or another? Go where you feel most comfortable! It’ll make it easier for you to stay consistent with your posting and engagement in the long run. 

Conversely, if you just don’t “get” a particular platform, it’s ok to skip it for now. Your discomfort will probably show up in your content, so it’s better to put your focus on platforms you naturally enjoy. 

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the more popular platforms to consider. Platform popularity can vary by demographic, particularly age, so keep that in mind if there’s a particular audience you are targeting.

How to Promote a Film on Social Media - Wrapbook - Most Popular Social Networks Worldwide
Picking your platforms is a first step in deciding how to promote a film on social media. SOURCE 
  • YouTube. As a video-forward platform, it’s a no-brainer for filmmakers. It’s also said to be the second-largest search engine after Google. And YouTube Shorts is incredibly popular. 
  • Facebook. Still one of the most popular social media sites. Because of the way their algorithms work, organic reach may not go as far on this platform. However, a small advertising budget can go a long way on Facebook. 
  • Instagram. Because it’s owned by Meta, Instagram integrates nicely with Facebook, making it relatively easy to simultaneously post on both without too much extra effort on your part. 
  • TikTok. TikTok appears a little less popular than some other platforms when you look at monthly active users. But when you look at the average amount of time people spend on TikTok as opposed to other sites, TikTok is the top. It makes a lot of sense to advertise your film on TikTok. 

If you have the bandwidth, you could also consider Reddit, Snapchat, and Pinterest when deciding how to promote a film on social media. 

X (formerly Twitter) usage has declined since 2022 and most experts expect that trend to continue. As such, it’s probably not the platform that will be the most efficient use of your marketing time. However, if you feel particularly comfortable on the platform or already have a big following on it, it can’t hurt to incorporate X into your movie marketing strategy. 

Create your accounts 

Once you’ve chosen your film advertising platforms, it’s time to decide who you’ll be posting as when promoting your film. You have a few options. 

  • Your own personal account. 
  • A dedicated account for your film work or production company. 
  • A project-specific account. 

Generally speaking, a project-specific account won’t be the best choice for a film. Thinking long-term, there might not be a lot to post about regularly once your film has been released and out for a while. 

Also, so much of social media is about building an audience. You don’t want to have to start building your audience from scratch every time you release a new film. 

Given the cycle of typical film marketing, it’s easier to focus on building and maintaining one account, rather than a new account for each project.

How to Promote a Film on Social Media - Wrapbook - Nikyatu Jusu
Writer-director Nikyatu Jusu is an example of an independent filmmaker who posts about her various projects on an Instagram account under her own name. SOURCE

For these reasons, using your own account (or a dedicated work or production company account) is typically the way to go. If you have an existing account, you’ll already have an audience you can build on. And you’ll be able to continue using your account to promote projects in the future. If you want to keep things organized, you can create a special #hashtag specific to the film you’re currently promoting.

Be consistent in your branding across platforms so it’s easy for people to find you wherever they’re looking. Keep the name and profile photo consistent. An easy go-to for your profile photo is a closeup of your film poster or your production logo. 

Once you set up your accounts, engage intentionally with other accounts. Follow other accounts that have something in common with your production company or film. Take some time to browse and interact with their content. 

You’ll get ideas for your own film advertising content and see what type of posts work best for engagement. Regular engagement with other accounts can also help drive organic traffic to your page. 

Share high-quality content 

This is the most important piece of the social media movie marketing puzzle. Create and share great content! 

Not sure what to post? Here are some basics to start with: 

  • Film trailer and teasers 
  • Film poster (and variations) 
  • Dynamic, high-quality film stills 
  • Updates on your production (we just wrapped, we’re going to a film festival, etc.) 
  • News on topics directly related to the content of your film (for example, if it’s a documentary about a historical figure, you can post about a new book that just came out about them)
  • Behind-the-scenes footage (tightly edited) 
  • Cast and crew interviews on the process of making the film (especially bite-sized versions) 
  • Your own insights and ideas about filmmaking and the artistic process 

Remember, you can repurpose some of your content across platforms for efficiency. For example, a teaser you post on TikTok can also be posted to YouTube Shorts or Instagram Reels. 

Across most platforms, video posts tend to get the most engagement. But high-quality still images can be effective content as well. Particularly when paired with thoughtfully crafted captions.

How to Promote a Film on Social Media - Wrapbook - Blumhouse
This example of a creative Instagram post from production company Blumhouse shows how to promote a film on social media. SOURCE 

One factor that will help your content stand out? Mobile optimization. 

Most people use social media primarily on their phones. Because of that, optimizing some or most of your content for phones is smart when considering how to promote a film on social media. 

Here are a few basics of optimizing for mobile: 

  • Vertical, rather than horizontal, orientation. 
  • Favoring closeups over wide shots (remember, a phone screen is small!). 
  • Use captioning– people don’t always have audio on when scrolling their phones. 
  • If it’s a video, grab people’s attention in the first few seconds. For teasers, that means you can skip MPAA ratings cards and any logos. Go straight to the eye-catching, engaging content! 

You can (and should!) post your standard, horizontal trailer. But you should also create mobile-optimized trailers and other video content for your social media.

How to Promote a Film on Social Media - Wrapbook - People On Their Phones
One best practice for how to promote a short film on social media? Remember that most people use social media on their phones and tailor your movie marketing content to that! SOURCE

Here’s an example of mobile-optimization in practice. The first video is 20th Century Studio’s official trailer for their recent release, A Haunting in Venice.

The second is a mobile-optimized trailer for TikTok.

@20thcentury Discover the truth. On September 15, experience #AHauntingInVenice ♬ original sound - 20th Century Studios

In addition to mobile optimization, using appropriate hashtags, tagging other users, and adding a location will help drive up the organic (meaning unpaid) reach of your posts. 

Does this all sound like a lot to track? Any social media manager worth their salt is highly organized when it comes to content planning, account management, and tracking assets. 

You don’t need a complicated system to stay on top of things. You can use an app like PLANOLY or Later ‌to help with your planning. A simple Google spreadsheet can help organize passwords for your different accounts. And you can create a folder on your desktop or the cloud for saving social media assets as they’re created. 

Post with perfect timing 

So, how often should you post your amazing film advertising content? 

The answer is… it depends. Some platforms favor accounts that post multiple times a day in their algorithms. 

For example, posting about one to four times a day on TikTok is normal and favored by its algorithms. But the most important thing across platforms is setting a cadence and sticking to it as much as you can. 

Your followers want to know what to expect. If they know you post three times a day every day, that’s what they’ll want. If you post twice a week, on Monday and Wednesday mornings, they’ll come to anticipate that. 

How to Promote a Film on Social Media - Wrapbook - Scheduling
Get the timing right to make social media an effective part of your film advertising strategy. SOURCE 

It’s okay to deviate from your set cadence occasionally, particularly when you have more news to share. And it’s okay to adjust your cadence depending on where you are in your film promotion cycle. For example, maybe you’ll post every day for the month leading up to and directly after your film’s release date, and then go to twice a week after that. 

The bottom line is, you can choose what cadence makes sense for you, and then stick to it. 

In terms of what time of day or day of the week is best, it varies by account and platform. You’ll want to do some testing to see when your audience is most responsive to your posts. Then create your posting schedule based on that. This social media timing guide from Sprout Social can help you get started.  

Use budget strategically 

One of the best things about social media, particularly for independent filmmakers, is that you don’t need to spend money to reach people. However, if you do have even a small budget for social media marketing, consider Facebook/Instagram ads. 

As long as you have a Facebook Business page (not just your personal profile), you’ll be able to boost posts. For your boosts, choose the most important posts that you want to make sure to get engagement on. Depending on ad run time and audience targeting, even $25-$50 for a post could go a long way. You’ll be able to get your ads placed both on Facebook and Instagram. 

We recommend experimenting with audience targeting to learn what type of targeting works best for your content and goals. Experts used to recommend specific targeting (for example, by interest) for Facebook ads. But due largely to changes to Apple’s iOS privacy in 2021, many experts now recommend broader targeting. 

You should definitely target for age and location. For example, if your film is only screening in the US, it won’t make sense to spend budget on showing the ad to Facebook users outside the country. Beyond that, try broad targeting for your initial ads. If you’re not seeing the results you want, you can then add custom audiences for your ads targeting specific interests. 

How to Promote a Film on Social Media - Wrapbook - Facebook Ads
Wondering how to promote a film on social media with a modest budget? Consider Facebook ads. SOURCE.  

There are plenty of guides that go into detail on how to promote a film on social media using Facebook ads– we’d recommend this one by Social Media Exam. Also check out Facebook’s own guide for promoting films using Facebook ads. 

Working with a team

If you’re working with a production or distribution company, you may be working with their social media team. 

Depending on the social media team, this can look different. They may spend a few days with your cast and crew collecting social media assets. They may ask you and your team for ideas. 

It’s helpful to come to the table with a foundational understanding of how to promote a film on social media (reading articles like this is a great start!). Then be sure to trust your social media team to do what they do best. 

Check out our interview with the digital marketing pros at Framework Studios for more insight on the process of working with a professional digital marketing team. 

Wrapping up 

We hope this article has left you feeling ready to promote your film on social media! And remember, Wrapbook offers payroll and accounting tools for every phase of your filmmaking process. 

Need help with some of your social media content creation? A trailer house might be the way to go. They can create main trailers as well as specialized social media spots. Check out this post on how to select the right trailer house for your films for more.

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Shaudi Bianca Vahdat

Shaudi is a Seattle-based musician, theatre artist, writer and social media marketing specialist. She holds degrees from Berklee College of Music and the University of Washington School of Drama.

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