Sunday, December 22, 2013

How to Promote Your Movie Reviews

We love movies (I can say this because you’re reading this article). Sometimes writing about them is fun and easy, other times it’s a burden. But after the review is written, we all wish someone would read it. Here are some of the things I learned about promoting movie reviews online.
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First of all, as always, content still is the king. Your review has to be genuine; it has to combine your observation about the film as well as the observation about your own feelings that followed the viewing process. Movies, like any art form, are human experiences, both for the makers and the consumers. Translating those feelings and ideas (an act that is equally emotional and rational) isn’t easy, but you get better by doing it. From the technical standpoint, it’s important to write reviews that are at least 400 words long, because, as rumor has it, Google search crawlers put a lot less emphasis on posts that are shorter than 300 words. This is pure hearsay, but I think there is something to it. Also, from the perspective of the reader, 200 words can include a summary of the film and only a pinch of opinion. So, write longer, both for the Google indexing robots and your readers (this is of course untrue if you own a microblogging site or something like that).

Writing good review is paramount, but today, social networks rule the Internet referral universe.

If you don’t have it, make a Facebook fan page for your movie review site/blog. Facebook is the biggest network, and your payoff in the share/reshare domain is potentially huge for your review. But, I must say, I still don’t have a Facebook fan page for Movies, films and movies. I decided not to make one until I feel like my audience has grown to a point where I won’t have 14 fans and dream about the time when I get 25; I’m saving Facebook for later, and maybe it’s a bad idea. But, in any case, you stand nothing to lose by not making one.

Twitter, on the other hand, should be your best social network friend for movie reviews. Like Facebook, you can also make an official page for your movie review blog/site. But for me, Twitter is also very useful because unlike Facebook and Google+, it has a greater (and a lot less restricted) reach.

There are two reasons for that: mentions (Twitter user names) and hashtags (Twitter search tags).

When you write your review, you should check out the business details about the film – the name of the production company (majority of movies has at least two) and distribution company (all can be found on the Wikipedia articles). If they have a Twitter account (make sure it’s official) mention them in your tweet, along your link to the review. But first find out if the movie itself has a Twitter account, and mention it also. You do this so that those companies notice your review and retweet it to their audience.

The real people who made the movie (not by financing it) are a bit more complicated. For example, if you watched Captain Phillips, there isn’t much sense in mentioning Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) because that account if followed by 7,551,501 people (probably more when you read this). He (or his PR team) isn’t going to notice your review, because he gets thousands of mentions per day.

This is a balancing act. You should find out if the director/writer/actors in the cast have Twitter accounts, and check them out. If you see on their timelines (their Twitter activity log) that they are willing to interact with other people, mention them. If they only tweet themselves, probably forget it, because you need the space in the tweet for the hashtags. Smaller films need and want a promotion. Big summer blockbusters have marketing budgets worth millions of US dollars, so they won’t exactly be amazed that you wrote about World War Z or The Wolverine.

The other useful Twitter thing is the hashtag system. Hashtags are a way of searching through tweets by keywords. For example, my tweets with movie reviews always start with “Film Review:” followed by the name of the film. After that, you can use tags like #MovieReview or something similar (don’t use redundant tags like #FilmReview if you already have that phrase in your tweet), and of course movie genres like #Horror #Action #Drama or #ActionFilm or any other combination. This way, your tweets will be shown when someone searches for any of these keyword combinations.

In my experiences, it’s best not to put more than three hashtag in your tweet. Overcrowding it looks a lot like spam, and readers tend to avoid those links, even when they see them in their timelines.

The last thing is Google+ network. Google is aggressively expanding its base of users, and a lot of people are using it now. You can also make your official page (in my opinion, completely useless in this moment), but if you’re using it, share your reviews in the same way as you do on Twitter – putting links along hashtags and mentions (but have in mind that a lot fewer people use G+ , especially film production companies). The biggest upside for G+ is the unrestricted space, so you can insert a short summary of your reviews, or one or two biggest points you’re trying to make about the film. But, having said that, have in mind that the reach of G+ is still a lot smaller (300 million for G+, compared to around 900 million on Twitter and over one billion on Facebook).

These are some of the things I learned about promoting your movie reviews, especially on social networks. If you think I left something spectacular important out, or if you disagree with something that I wrote, please leave a comment.