Discovery's Facebook Strategy: Lessons for Indie Filmmakers?

If you're hooked on Deadliest Catch you may already know that Discovery Communications has a very robust presence online - including an online game. But did you know that Discovery has a total of nine full-time people managing a total of 70 Facebook pages?

In a June 22, 2011 interview, Jennifer Moire asked Gayle Weiswasser, vice president of social media at Discovery Communications, about Discovery’s Facebook strategy.

Why should microbudget filmmakers care what a TV network is doing online? Discovery is using Facebook to create a community around their programming (e.g., engaging a core audience that can help to market the content). Many of the techniques used by Discovery are easy to implement and could be used for any film.

For example, one of Discovery's ideas (in addition to online games) is to give the audience a reason to tune in at a particular time - rather than time-shifting. Discovery knows that some fans (especially the younger ones) like to chat about the content in real time with other fans: "According to a May, 2011 Harris Interactive poll, one third of U.S. viewers multitask while watching TV from live or time-shifted programming, with 40 percent of those using social networking sites. As expected, these numbers skew higher with younger audiences." If you can create that kind of community around your content (e.g., offering an online Q and A with the filmmaker), you can create engagement that builds a sense of community. Yes, some content won't work if the audience is tweeting during the experience - but, if your content can be enhanced by user interaction, why not let core fans interact with you while the content is streaming?

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