The first time I used Facebook Ads, I was very gratified by the numbers it brought in, but it was also clear that something was amiss. When I looked at followers’ profiles, they didn’t make much sense. Just like Veritasium‘s video reports, these “individuals” also liked a bunch of very random pages, none of which suggested that a real person was behind the profile.

Watch this video to learn why you shouldn’t waste your time and money setting up ads.

Being able to purchase followers wasn’t a concept (to my knowledge), although it was pretty clear that Facebook was being clever/deceitful with their “advertising” model. But for us, at the time, it didn’t matter. We were still in development, were getting bloggers to write about the film, and could boast how many people “liked” us. We ended up attracting a lot of talent to the project, and I like to think that our audience engagement practices were a part of the draw.

Our short film, America 1979, currently has over 250 followers, au natural. I think this is pretty good for a short film that is in post production. I find that the following helps:

  • Post content consistently. You will stay in the algorithm. If you go dark for a while, you may find that less people are seeing your posts. That is why it’s good to have a specific member of your team assigned to social media.
  • Post photos or articles and tag members of your community. It will force the content into their streams and their friends will be interested in a project that they are involved with. For instance, I posted a photo of our cinematographer on set, tagged him, and then 20 new followers came in (thanks Adrian!). Do not do this gratuitously, you may annoy people.
  • Original content is seen more frequently then recycled news stories. Posts with photos are seen by more people then posts with just text or video. Your followers may care about issues around your film, but mostly Facebook followers care about your film!
  • If you can make Facebook Ads work in your favor to bring in your first batch of followers, use it cautiously. I think that it can’t hurt to gather 100 followers who don’t actually care about you. When a potential follower sees that others are actually interested, it spurs interest. It’s mob mentality at work. But beyond a little fluff, you may be wasting your time and your money. You aren’t actually engaging anyone, you are only creating a superficial veneer of engagement. Anyone who analyses your page will see that interaction will be significantly disproportionate to your number of followers. And those who are marketing savvy will know that something is rotten in Denmark.