One of the most common complaints I see from web series producers is that their cast and crew are inconsistent at best when it comes to helping promote the show. There are tons of possible reasons for this- they’re unpaid and therefore unpredictable, they’ve moved on to other projects, they don’t realize what goes into marketing, they aren’t active on social media anyways, or they’re simply forgetful. All hope is not lost, though. Below are 7 concrete ways you can increase your cast and crew’s involvement in marketing pushes.
1- Take your work seriously
Tone starts at the top, and if you take the production and release of your project seriously, so will everyone else. It can be hard to set a professional tone when you’re a ragtag group of students or volunteers, but if you legitimately want your project to be an online success, strike that tone and stick to it. Be consistent with your team about your goals with the project and the timeline to achieve them. Keep them informed of goalposts and milestones, and then make a transparent effort to get press coverage, submit to film festivals, and get your work seen. Lead by example. If you appear to take marketing seriously and then actually act on it, others will follow suit.
It’s important, here at the start, that we all recognize that no one is ever going to take our work as seriously as we do. We created this world, these characters, this story, and have been along for the ride during the busy periods and the slow. You cannot take it personally if your cast and crew, passionate as they may be about the project, don’t put as much effort into things as you do. It’s not about you, or the work (usually), they just aren’t as intertwined with it as you are. That’s ok. That’s healthy. But read on for more ways to
2- Set expectations early
If you’re someone who complains about lackluster promotional efforts from your cast and crew, and you genuinely depend on their help, you should be setting your expectations at the same time as you’re setting your tone. Consider writing these expectations into contracts, laying out the frequency with which you want them to be posting, the platforms you’re focusing on, and any other relevant details.
You can’t just say nothing and expect someone to promote of their own volition- that’s both unfair and extremely unlikely. If you want something done, and it’s important to you that the people you hire do it, you have to actually tell them.
3- Organize everyone’s social media usernames, per platform
An easy way to nudge someone to share is to make sure they’re tagged in a shareable post, which can be difficult if you’re scheduling a ton of content in advance but don’t have people’s usernames handy. My advice is to just make a spreadsheet and fill in everyone’s @s so you can easily refer to it to quickly make sure that your teammate will get inundated with notifications about this post in order to indirectly prompt them to share.
Even easier than this, though, is using the Stareable Updates feature to schedule your social media! At the end of composing a tweet and/or Facebook post, you’ll also be able to automatically alert your cast and crew that you need their help sharing something. As long as they’ve verified their cast/crew profile on Stareable, you can email them (or schedule an email to them) in the same screen as you compose a new update.
4- Pre-write social media copy
When asking anyone, not just your cast and crew, to help you promote something, the surest bet is to compose the message beforehand for them simply copy and paste into their own feeds. This allows you to maintain a consistent voice and a consistent description for your project.
Make sure to include any preferred hashtags or @ usernames and links. The people you’re sending these to should literally be able to copy, paste, and post with no further work. You should also try to personalize the copy depending on the teammate you’re sending it to, because an actor will have different reasons to promote something than, say, a production designer.
5- Provide individualized content
Speaking of personalization, you should also make sure you make individualized visual content (promo imagery, interviews, quotes, etc) for everyone on the team. A group photo is easy for you, because you can send it to everyone at once, but people are far more likely to share content that’s about them specifically. Make character posters, use BTS photos to make a release date promo for everyone on the team, interview as many people as you can, whatever works for your show. I’m far more likely to retweet Stareable content that I wrote or that I appear in than I am general company announcements, and increasing the visibility of Stareable content is literally my job.
6- Provide exclusive content
Similar but different from above, if you can give certain teammates content/announcements that no one else is releasing, that’s great. It gives them ownership over the content, sets their feed apart from everyone else, and since they’re the only one sharing the content, they’re now personally responsible for the success of it. For instance, you could let your lead actor announce the series premiere a few days ahead of everyone else, or give each actor their own unique teaser clip (prominently featuring their character), or give your DP a sizzle reel of the best no-spoiler shots of the upcoming season.
7- Give them ownership and ask for input
At the end of the day, the best way to get people involved in something is to actually ask them to be involved. Every member of your team doesn’t have to come to every production and marketing meeting, but you can absolutely send emails or meet them for coffee one-on-one to ask for their promotional ideas. This is their show too, and if you let them be a part of decision making and a part of the success, you’ll be amazed at how much more excited everyone is to help out.