We are drowning in a deluge of content. It’s a problem for consumers, especially if you are looking for something new to read, watch, or play. It’s also a problem for content creators. With so much overwhelming choice how do you get found by the people who will be interested in what you have written, shot, or programmed? This is a critical question every producer needs to answer. Any good marketing strategy, online or off, begins with a content discovery plan. In this issue of From Search to Screen I take a look at five of the key paths people take to finding new content and give examples how screen media and other content creators can use these to get found.
#1 – Advertising
Often the first time I hear about a new movie or television show is through some kind of advertising – teaser trailers, posters, ads on TV or in magazines. However, advertising is evolving beyond these traditional methods of promotion, especially when it comes to the online world. Paid campaigns for screen media on the web are getting more and more creative. They can involve games, sponsorship of online events and even the creation of unique promotional content that may start with paid placement but often become a standalone viral success. Beyond traditional ads, here are some interesting advertising campaigns for screen media:
- The movie The Last Exorcism made a viral splash in the summer of 2010 with its unique paid campaign on the online chat website ChatRoulette.com that pairs strangers from around the world together for webcam-based conversations (warning – there’s some strong language here).
- The ads for Ridley Scott’s latest scifi movie included a Ted Talk from the future that spread like wildfire online.
- The Hunger Games leveraged paid presence on social media like crazy with initiatives like a Facebook game as well as websites like TheCapitol.pn that allows visitors to make digital ID cards as if they lived in Panem.
#2 – Search engines
Search is still one of the most popular activities online and often the first place people turn when they are looking for something new. That moment of active searching is one of the most powerful for any content creator, because if you have done your job right then you will be found be new visitors who might become active fans and help spread the word. To do well on the search engines you need to be using the right language (in other words do you keyword research well) and make sure your website, social media and the rest of your online presence use best practices for search engine optimization or SEO.
Unfortunately, screen media still lags significantly behind when it comes to leveraging the power of search for content discovery. This is often because creators are focused on visual assets like video and pictures and they don’t understand how important the words are to draw traffic/audience to them through the mechanism of Internet search. However, here are a couple examples of how text can be integrated into the storytelling around a screen media project:
- Documentary films often have a wealth of supplemental content that never made it into the final product and often the story continues to unfold long after the release data. The very popular documentary film on the food industry Food Inc. continues to leverage this every day with its robust presence on the social action website TakePart.com The site is a hub for the films of the parent company Participant Media which is a web savvy company that leverages the communities and content around its movies. The site provides regular rich text and video content with updates on the issues relevant to not only this Food Inc. but its other projects. When well optimized these all present opportunities to connect with potential audiences through search.
- In the world of fictional screen media, indie horror movie I am Zozo: The Ouiji Movie uses its blog to seed the website with SEO friendly content about ouiji board hauntings. This content is specifically designed to attract visits from searches about these topics and people who would be very interested in the story of the film.
#3 – Hashtags or a similar mechanism
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post all about the power of the humble hashtag especially in regards to screen media. By putting a number sign (#) in front of a word on the right social media, you turn it into a link and connect instantly to all conversations using the tag. It’s an immensely powerful tool for content (and conversation) discovery. I find I use it frequently and wish everything was hashtag friendly on the web allowing me to access threads I want to follow easily.
My previous post went into a wide range of examples of hashtag use for screen media, including recommendations for best practices (which you should familiarize yourself with), but here are some of examples specific to content discovery:
- #FilmFriday is a great opportunity for filmmakers to introduce others to their movies every Friday on Twitter. The conversation around this tag is about what movies people are planning to watch on the weekend.
- While every TV show these days seems to have its own hashtag, when it comes to content discovery the power lies in using other (highly relevant) tags in your tweets and posts to introduce yourself and your content to new audiences. For instance, if I had a webseries about life as a single dad, using the hashtag #parenting or #fatherhood and linking to relevant clips can be very effective.
#4 – Automatic taste profile recommendations
Services like Netflix often allow to build out a very detailed taste profile online by tracking what you watch, how you rate and even giving you extensive taste preference choices:
The Internet allows this high level of personalization and customization which many consumers like and appreciate. I know Netflix has allowed me to discover many new films and television shows I wouldn’t have found otherwise through its automated recommendations. Unfortunately, this is not something you can really strategize for or target as a way to reach consumers. You can, however, create great screen media content and then once you have a fan base encourage those fans to rate and comment positively – on YouTube, on Netflix, on IMDb, on Rotten Tomatoes, and everywhere else they are allowed an opinion.
#5 – Trusted curators
The automated recommendations above are a great way to find new content, but we still frequently turn to channels we trust to help us find fresh things to watch and experience. These can include:
- Traditional television broadcasters,
- Local arthouse movie theatres that program what we like,
- Favourite Twitter feeds,
- Niche blogs,
- Trusted movie and entertainment reviewers,
- The recommendations/reveiws of other fans and consumers on sites like Amazon or iTunes (including the “customers who bought this also bought these” variety),
- And, of course, the recommendations of our friends on both social media and real life.
The best way to leverage the trusted curator is to create great content and then build relationships with key influencers in your potential audience. Actually you should start building these relationships even before your content is finished. You can do this by participating in relevant communities and conversations online, providing exclusive sneak peeks to bloggers and reviewers, commenting on and sharing the work of others and by keeping your contributions authentic and “non-salesy.”
What Do You Think?
Have you discovered new content by the channels above? Are there some you think I have missed? Have you successfully leveraged these for your film, TV show or web series? I’d love to hear about it. Share your thoughts, ideas, questions below or send them to me at annelise (at) veria.ca or on Twitter @veriatweet.
Or revisit the previous issue: MoSo Conference 2012: 7 Business Lessons from Dreamers & Data Hounds