There are about 500 million tweets sent each day, which comes out to approximately 200 billion tweets per year. That's a lot of noise you need to cut through in order to get the word out about your indie film. The good news is that you have a huge potential audience. The bad news is that the vast majority of them don't know (much less care) about your film.
Enter the hashtag.
If you're new to social media and wondering what a "hashtag" is, I encourage you to read this Wikipedia article on the topic. This post isn't meant to be a primer on the basic use (or definition) of a hashtag, but, rather, how you, as a creative entrepreneur, can use them more effectively to promote your project and/or career.
To begin, here are some of the most common film-related hashtags you'll encounter across the three primary social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram):
#indiefilm // #supportindiefilm // #filmmaking // #filmmaker
Incorporating these hashtags into your posts and tweets will immediately focus your audience engagement efforts and help get your content in front of the best/right audience, which is the one that's most interested in hearing what you have to say.
Much like developing a script for production, your social media engagement strategy might start out as more of a rough sketch, becoming more refined over time until, one day, you find yourself speaking directly to your most ardent and engaged supporters. And using the right hashtags is one way to help you get there.
You should have a single hashtag that represents your film/project across all social platforms. Usually, it's your film title...unless your title is generic, in which case you can always add a qualifier such as "film" or "movie." For example, if your film title is #PIRANHACONDA, your hashtag writes itself. But, if your film title is, say, THE RED CHAIR, you might go with something like #RedChairFilm or #RedChairMovie. Hashtags aren't case specific, but sometimes using both upper- and lower-case letters helps increase readability for your intended audience.
Now that you have your primary hashtag, let's dig a little deeper with some free tools and see what else we can do to target your best potential audience.
Our first stop is Hashtagify, a free app that filters Twitter's big data "firehose" and creates real-time reports on which hashtags are trending. It's powerful intelligence that can help you better position your messages and, hopefully, serve them to the people you most want to see them.
First up, we have the hashtag #indiefilm, which is a great general hashtag to include (space permitting) in your post/tweet.
Next, let's look at the correlations and trends for the top four most relevant #indiefilm hashtags, which is a great way to separate the digital wheat (or amaranth, if you're gluten-free) from the chaff.
As it turns out, we're still in a pretty broad audience pool, but, depending on your goal(s), you'll be able to add a second (or even third, if you have room) hashtag to your post/tweet and drill down deeper into your audience pool.
Now, let's say you have some experience on Twitter and you're familiar with and participating in Seed&Spark's bi-weekly #filmcurious tweetchat (which, by the way, is a great example of a hashtag), which will not only expose you and your film to a large (and sympathetic) peer group, but also help you put an even finer point on some of your #indiefilm-related hashtags.
As you can see, you've now expanded your hashtag lexicon to include a few more highly relevant tags, which you can now use to engage an even deeper, and highly engaged, audience pool. At this point, each related hashtag could become the center of its own "data wheel," giving you even more insight into relevant, and cross-sectional, audience pools.
Most people use hashtags on Twitter, but, with the rise of Instagram, it's imperative now for indie filmmakers to maintain a presence there, too. And one of the best, and often easiest, ways to grow that presence is through the effective use of hashtags. And by "effective," we don't mean two hashtags for every five words in your post, but one or two might help supercharge the engagement potential of your post.
Hashtags aren't magic, but they are useful, so find a few that make sense for you and put them to work. Today.