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Should You Promote Your Short Film on Facebook or a Website?

Lewis McGregor

At one time, every project needed a promotional website, but in the age of Facebook pages, is this still true?

Cover Image via Shutterstock.

Before the introduction of Facebook pages, one of the best ways to promote your film and create a following was through a website. At networking events, festivals, online, or wherever, you could quickly direct someone to your film’s URL, where they could see behind-the-scenes photographs, credentials, contact information, and so on. The more professional the site, the more professional you and your project looked. In today’s digital age, however, you can do all that and more on Facebook — for free.

Creating a website is neither cheap nor easy. So let’s weigh the pros and cons between a Facebook page and a dedicated website.

Should You Promote Your Short Film on Facebook or a Website? —  Mobile
Image via Shutterstock.


The Cost

If you’ve never created a website before, let’s break down the very basics of the cost. We’re going to assume you’re using something like a wordpress.org hosting platform. (Learn the difference between .org and .com here). Using WordPress, you can find a ton of great short film or creative-oriented themes that you can build upon to create a unique website. While there is definitely a learning curve, you can pick up what you need to know relatively quickly. For your first purchase, you can also get the essentials at a discounted cost:

  • Domain — (the website URL) $0.99 for a year’s registration, and around $10 after that.
  • Hosting — $10 a month or at a discounted price for the year.
  • WordPress.org theme — $40-$150+

So for the basics, you’re looking at at least $150 for the initial year. If you’re working on a low-budget or no-budget film, that’s a substantial amount. This isn’t even taking into consideration the hours you have put in to get the site operational. Conversely, a Facebook page is free, and you can get one up and running in just ten minutes. There is no learning curve, there are no plug-ins to install, and there is no code to understand. (Although, you don’t own this page outright like you do a website.)

Should You Promote Your Short Film on Facebook or a Website? — Website
Image via Shutterstock.

If you want a completely new and unique website, you would have to hire a web designer, and this would very quickly enter into the thousands-of-dollars price range. Therefore, it’s usually wisest to stick with a theme and customize it to the point that it’s indistinguishable from the original — or at least hire a WordPress theme designer, which would be somewhat cheaper than building an entire website from the ground up.


Social Engagement

If you decide to host the film or web-series on your own website rather than through YouTube, you have to consider the discoverability of your website as opposed to YouTube or even Facebook’s (not-so-good) video player. Webmasters spend months, even years, working on creating SEO-friendly pages and content to increase the page rankings of their website. If your site is solely going consist of a short film with no additional content, traffic will stop, and the site will ultimately fall in the search rankings.

Should You Promote Your Short Film on Facebook or a Website? — Web Traffic
Image via Shutterstock.

In the age of social media, we have to talk about the benefits of hosting your short film on Facebook rather than a website. Whether you build a website, create a Facebook page, or host the short film solely on Vimeo, at some point, the film will begin circulating on Facebook. However, the audience reach of people sharing your film’s Facebook page in comparison to your film’s website will be far greater. Facebook’s sharing algorithm strongly prefers content that keeps users on the site (more ad impressions = more revenue for Facebook). Therefore, if several audience members share your short film, then a lot more people will view the Facebook page than if the same group was sharing the link to your website.

At this point, opting for a Facebook page should seem like the obvious choice. The nail in the coffin, however, is communicating with your audience at a moment’s notice.

Should You Promote Your Short Film on Facebook or a Website? — Audience
Image via Shutterstock.

While you can configure WordPress on your phone, there’s nothing as easy as using the Facebook Pages app on a smartphone or tablet. You can essentially build a community around your film or web series on Facebook, and as communities tend to grow, so will your viewership. Unless you install forums on your website, which is tedious, this just wouldn’t be possible for your film’s web page.

Ultimately, if you’re creating a low-budget short, setting up a website for promotional purposes isn’t feasible. It’s just going to be money that you’ll never get back. However, there is one situation wherein a website would reign supreme, and that’s if you’re selling merchandise. Currently, the Facebook merchandise feature is very fickle, although they are looking into making advancements. Therefore, if you think there is a market for merchandise and Blu-Rays, like RocketJump’s “Videogame Highschool,” it would likely be best to have a website for e-commerce.


When to Build a Website

Conversely to everything discussed above, when you have a body of work to showcase, it would then be in your interest to create a website. Followers and interested viewers can easily browse all your work on a single page — which is not possible on a Facebook page because you have to scroll through an endless sea of status updates.

The verdict?

Individual exhibition: Create a website

Short film: Take advantage of Facebook’s fantastic page feature.


Advertising

If you’ve already browsed your Facebook feed today, I’m sure you have already come across a sponsored post. These are paid promotions for posts from Facebook Pages that appear in the timeline of someone who has a similar interest. If you were to follow various Facebook Pages about the horror genre, vampires, and Dracula, and I promoted a post for my short film about Dracula’s Son and targeted those keywords, you would more than likely see the film appear in your timeline. While you can do almost the same thing with a website, the process is inherently a lot harder and requires the use of a third-party ad manager.

Whether you love or loathe Facebook, it’s become an invaluable tool for filmmakers and creative types to promote their work, and I recommend you take advantage of it for your creative venture.


Looking for more articles on using Facebook for promotion? Check out these:

 

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