Why did you want to make a web series? Let me guess- because you’re a writer, actor, or some other kind of budding filmmaker who wanted to create on your own terms. And while you may have a decent handle on the actual making of the series, the most common question is… what’s next?
Welcome to I Hate Marketing, a new weekly column from Stareable about the ins and outs of marketing yourself and your series in the void of the internet. We’ll cover everything from how to make a social media post schedule, what to post, how to compile a press kit, to case studies of web series who have already been successful in their marketing.
Fast marketing tips:
Make a schedule. If you just think to yourself “yeah I’ll post like two or three times a week,” trust me: no you will not.
Stick to social media platforms you’re already using at first. It’ll be easier to get into a habit of checking your accounts on sites you use in your “real” life. Don’t force yourself to get a Tumblr at first if you’ve never used Tumblr.
Share the responsibility. If you aren’t good at social media, hire or ask someone else to do it. Or pass around the responsibility- let other cast and crew control accounts once in a while.
Keep it real. Especially when you’re building an audience from scratch, your best tool is authentic, genuine content that comes from the heart and not from a marketing textbook. You are not a corporation- you are a scrappy group of indie filmmakers. Lean into that.
Today, as an introduction to the new column, I’m going to walk you through things that you, yes you, can do right now, no matter if you already have a web series, are in development, or you’re thinking of thinking of being in development.
Get a social media scheduling program
My favorites: Tweetdeck (for managing multiple Twitter accounts), Buffer (for managing Twitter and Facebook at the same time), and RecurPost (for evergreen repeating messages). I’ve also heard good things about HootSuite, but have no personal experience in it. If you love HootSuite, tell me why in the comments!
Even people who are good at social media are bad at consistently posting content, and this is where knowing how to use one (or multiple) of these scheduling programs is going to save your butt. During season 2 of my web series, where I had a show Twitter account as well as three in-character transmedia Twitter accounts and my own personal Twitter account, Tweetdeck allowed me to schedule three months of content in 48 hours. It was a little dizzying, but getting it done all at once gave me the freedom to do literally anything else with my time for the next three months, and kept all five of those accounts actively posting content even when I was away from the computer. For this, I used Tweetdeck, because it lets you seamlessly switch between accounts and lets you see the timelines of each account side by side.
Buffer is great if you want to post roughly the same information to Twitter and Facebook without having to copy and paste and go to both sites to schedule them separately. Stareable uses Buffer for most of our social media scheduling because we have a large volume of content we need to schedule that goes to both our Facebook and our Twitter, and being able to schedule and manage both of those accounts from one website is way more efficient than the alternative.
RecurPost is useful for evergreen content, or content that remains relevant no matter when it’s posted. This way, you don’t have to reschedule the same social posts every week or every couple of weeks- you can just make a library of repeating posts and schedule them to get posted until you decide to stop them. I use RecurPost to post reminders for people to review my shows Brains and Relativity on Stareable a few times a week (with different photos each time). I also run my friend Brandon’s Twitter account (leave me alone) and set up said account to tweet a rolling series of promotional posters and artwork for his debut novel, because we don’t have anything new to announce but don’t want his account to go silent.
An important trick with Recur is to not overdo it- your library (the collection of pre-written tweets/Facebook posts) should be varied and each tweet should be somewhat unique (either with slightly different wording or different attached photos). You also shouldn’t tweet the same kinds of tweets every day, otherwise it’s just going to get repetitious and drive people away rather than bringing them towards you. I suggest only scheduling similar posts three or four times a week, and having a library of content with more than three or four pre-written posts so that you’re not posting the same tweet every Wednesday. Recur is easy to abuse, so don’t abuse it. It is, however, an awesome way to always have content going up on your accounts, even when nothing new is happening.
The main takeaway from this section is this: even before you have something to market or promote, learning how to use these scheduling tools will be super beneficial.
Sign up for marketing newsletters
This step is even more boring than the last, but it’s also going to benefit you in the long run. Newsletters I suggest are the Stareable one (obviously), because you’ll get posts like this one right in your inbox every week as well as updates in the community that you might be able to use for your own marketing needs, Hootsuite, and Buffer Social. There are tons of others out there, so definitely do some research. No one pops out of the womb good at marketing, the same way no one pops out proficient in camera operating or experts at latte art.
If you have a good marketing/social media newsletter you subscribe to, let us know in the comments!
Talk to your team
If you aren’t super great at marketing or social media, or you don’t have the budget to hire a dedicated person to manage it, you still shouldn’t take it on by yourself. Set yourself up for success by asking around- maybe you have a Twitter savvy friend who doesn’t want to be a filmmaker but wants to support you, and ask if they can help you manage your accounts. Also, it could be worth trading off with your team. Have a different person be in charge of posting every other week (supported by pre-scheduled posts, of course), so that your accounts remain up to date, brimming with content, and authentic.
There’s this unfortunate assumption in indie filmmaking where people are rewarded for doing it all by themselves, but that doesn’t have to be the case and it often leads to worse products. Collaboration is the name of the game, and the more you can split up responsibilities, the higher your overall quality will be, because no one will get more worn out than they need to be. There’s no shame in asking for help, and there’s definitely no shame in being bad at marketing. I’ve been on Twitter for almost a decade, and I hate marketing. It’s just a reality of this world and this industry in particular.
That’s it for the introduction, folks. Next week we’ll talk about setting yourself up for success while you’re in pre-production and production so your marketing goes smoother when you actually have a product to hype.
In the meantime, below are the other marketing posts Stareable has already written, just to give you something more to chew on: