In Part 1 I spoke about going through the difficult art of choosing the hashtag that is going to define your project (be it a film or event) and will be plastered all over social media. Now that you’ve put some thought into it and got the best hashtag in the world for your project, what do you do with it?
Probably not surprisingly, you now need to start using your hashtag. A lot. But there’s a difference in spamming people’s feeds and strategically placing content that draws people into the meaning of the hashtag itself.
A big problem that you often see with an event that is new (once again this could be a film premiere, conference, workshop etc), is that the team behind the event are generally the biggest contributors. Selling the benefits and features of the event, they are posted with the assumption that someone is already searching for the hashtag, and told in a style of ‘here I am, on day 1 of the new shoot #nameofyourfilm’. This is great if you already have tens of thousands of people following you who will learn about the project, but if you’re like me with followers across social media platforms in the low hundreds total, you need to use your hashtag to grow your audience.
So here are a few things to consider before you hit the twittersphere et al:
EVERY post should have a hashtag in it if you are talking about your project. You wouldn’t want for one of your best BTS vids be shared on social media without the hashtag so that one day in the near future, it doesn’t show when someone actually searches the hashtag. Using the hashtag for every post also serves as a kind of ‘real-time virtual diary’ so that your growing audience can feel like they are a part of the journey. This will also help with the frequency of your posts (more on that below).
Now, not all social media platforms play nicely with hashtags. The main ones are Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr. Hashtags do not work on LinkedIn currently and although you can use hashtags on Facebook, the search factor on these is extremely low compared to other platforms. My advice however, is to still use the hashtag on these platforms. People may not be able to search for your project, but if the hashtag is intriguing enough, that may prompt a trip to google to find out more!
You should be using the hashtag often enough so that each time your audience searches the hashtag, there will be new material to find. If you are working on a project day & night, you’ll find this easier to do than if you are working part-time during your evenings, but find a frequency that works for you, and stick with it. You don’t have to create earth shattering content either. Playing around with some website design? There’s a post!
Hashtags don’t have to be used on social media alone. How many times do we now use hashtags as an ironic piece of humour? #youknowitstrue. Think about where else you can display your hashtag to get more people in the know. Your website. Coffee mugs. T-Shirts. Stickers.
If you’ve got a hashtag that screams coolness and allure, print that baby and get it plastered all over town.
Highjacking Other Hashtags
I’ve written that so it sounds suspect. It really isn’t, and is one of the best ways to attract people to your project who do not currently know you exist. It simply means using existing hashtags in combination with your own.
I’m making a Short Film with infected zombie like people in it. Guess how often I’m posting #whatisthecure next to #zombies? It’s fairly often, and it’s beginning to get me a consistent amount of likes, follows and shares. It all means more eyes on the project.
Just be aware, too many hashtags and you will see a remarked drop in engagement with your post, it looks spammy and puts people off.
Finally, the one true way to extend the reach of your project beyond that of your current followers, is to have your followers engage with your hashtag and send it out to THEIR followers. You want other people posting about your hashtag, which means that they are posting about your project. Give them something to post.
Getting people to take action and do something is hard, really hard, or at least I find it is. A simple approach to start with is asking someone on Twitter to ‘RT (Re-Tweet) if they agree’ or on Facebook or Instagram ‘Tag A Friend’. It’s much easier to have help with the heavy lifting, but you’ll want some engaging content for people to involve their audience, so make sure it’s worthwhile!
Perhaps the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to just start using hashtags in your posts. They don’t have to be perfect, you’re not a social media marketing expert. Neither am I, that’s why I’m still finding better ways to use these approaches myself. But over time, they will have a positive effect on getting the word out for your project, and getting eyes onto your film, and that sounds like a worthy prize to me.
In the final post on hashtags, I’ll be looking at some simple strategies for using hashtags in the content that you create in the social media sphere.- Nick
PS Here’s a bonus to help you get started on evaluating your hashtag. Tagboard.com is a great resource to know exactly what the internet is talking about!