BY THE NUMBERS: How Sundance 2016 Films Are Leveraging Social Media

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It’s hard out there for a filmmaker these days – and it’s getting harder! We’ve all had that discussion about the double-edged sword that is the lower cost of digital filmmaking, which has flooded the market with more and more content, creating an even greater need to stand out amongst the crowd.

Complicating matters is the growing (and rapidly changing) world of social media marketing for films.  This is undoubtedly driven by the impact social media can have on crowdfunding success as well as its vital role in generating the widest festival buzz.

As marketing budgets shrink and social media capabilities and trends shift on a seemingly daily basis, the task of building and executing a social media strategy for your film gets more and more daunting.

Determining the right approach for your film and your budget can come often down to guess work: knowing the right people to ask for advice. Stumbling on the best online tips. Trusting your gut that those tips make the most sense for your film.

Here at Genuine Article, we’re big fans of quantitative data. Tips and advice? Yep, we’ve got those. But who doesn’t love a generous helping of cold hard facts?

That’s why we decided to compile some data on all of the feature films that make up the Sundance Film Festival class of 2016. We wanted to understand, empirically speaking, how each is handling their social media. We wanted to answer questions like:

How have these filmmakers chosen to represent themselves in the digital space – and where?

When and how often do they post updates?

Which films are stand-outs in terms of audience building, and what platforms have given them the most success?

Does strategy (and outcome) differ based on factors like narrative versus documentary?

We’ve summarized the results in the infographic below, and we hope you find them interesting. If you do, take a second to share!

Sundance Social Scorecard Infographic

Some important notes on our methodology:

  • Our analysis excludes shorts as well as films in the Special Events and From the Collection sections
  • Though this post focuses on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we imagine there are some films that have (wisely) opted to use other platforms like Tumblr and Snapchat, either instead of or to supplement what they’re doing on the big three platforms.
  • When crunching the numbers, we used median instead of average, so that we didn’t give too much weight to one or two major outliers (including one film that’s playing Spotlight and whose digital presence is in line with what you’d expect considering it’s already been released in a major market)
  • These are very dynamic stats as many films are creating their accounts even yesterday or last week. The data here a snapshot of how things looked as of January 18th.
  • For this piece, we chose to look at only films who have created dedicated accounts for the film itself. For these purposes, if someone’s only Twitter presence for the film is her own personal account, it is not counted here. That’s not meant to be a commentary on efficacy of such an approach – that’s a blog post for another time! It’s just the way we chose to do it.
  • We firmly believe that follower count is only one of many important success metrics. It is far from the only or even sometimes best gauge of a film’s success in the social media space.


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