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Promoting a Web Series

by on Jun.18, 2010, under Creators Blog

Stars Taryn O'Neill, Janna Bossier, and Craig Frank at a New Media Vault Event.

Inspired by Mathieas’ Tubefilter piece on building buzz, and a  shout out to Dialogik Digital and the immense help they did in our pre-launch, I figured I’d blog about Promoting a Web Series. Please note, I am not claiming that the promoting of our show was a complete success, nor am I claiming it to be the right way to promote a show, it’s just the way we chose to do it.

When you’re doing an independent series for the web, one of the big daunting tasks is in the promoting of your web series.  Most people who create shows aren’t promoters, advertisers, or public relations gurus, they are filmmakers and storytellers.

Personally I’m glad to see that the “if you build it, they will come” watch mantra is dying fast. Why? Well the internet is a HUGE place. There are a lot of eyes out there, and you’re never reach them all. That is why you need to guide your target viewers to your show, and you need to find your audience.

I’m going to re-point to Pam Kulik’s, Dialogik Digital post on this because she really has it fleshed out better than I do so take a look. She really covers our Launch Strategy,  Promoting, and Audience Building, so I encourage you to learn from it, I know I did. I remember being on a conference call with them and Dailymotion before our launch and the two P.R. reps just chatted away about all this promotional/press jargon that I had no clue about. -

If you’re a web series creator, if you get anything out of this post, I’d say look into finding/hiring some P.R. representation, it’ll shoot your promotions forward 10 fold.

Anyway, PR rep or not, you’ll always have to do at least a good deal of hustling yourself. Heck even the creators behind shows like The Bannen Way and The Guild have to hustle to get that extra promotional push. So no matter who you got helping you,  I’d like to highlight four things about web series promoting that I feel are vital.

1. TAKE YOUR TIME! – I write this with an exclamation point because I really, really mean it. This also goes for pre-production, production, post-production, as well as crafting your promoting strategies.

Everyone remember the rule of Cheap/Fast/Good, you can only have 2? Well most web series I know don’t have a ton of money so by default you’re gonna be Cheap. So by that rule you’re gonna be either Fast or you’re gonna be Good. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be Good than Fast.

and seriously ask your self “what’s the hurry?” -

As we were dead set on releasing Compulsions in the 2009 calendar year, our original target release date was mid October but we fell behind in post. Then we were ready to go in Mid November, but our team agreed that pushing back and releasing in early December would be the right way to go.  We ended up with more time to finish the show, we had more time to craft our promotion strategy, and we had a nice little window between two major holidays to launch.

2. Promoting to people who watch Web Series. Relative to everything else this is easy (mainly because pretty much everyone in the web series world is so friendly and supportive). This process is pitching/promoting your site on all the forums and websites that cover web series, Tubefilter, Newteevee, Indie Intertube, WebSeriesToday, Slebisodes, SciFinal, 93Studios, The Web Files, and more..

All of these sites (and more), have sections (if not the entire site) dedicated to promoting web series. So yes they will at the very least watch your show at some point. Also please remember that most/if not all these sites have very limited resources dedicated to covering your show so please be patient with them. Many of them are covering web shows solely because they love doing it so lets cut them some slack if they fall behind. – A good set of rules to follow is Liz Shannon Miller’s “How to Pitch Me Your Web Series”. READ IT.

Going for other web series creators is a great core to start with, it’s a pre-conception that everyone knows everyone, but that’s not true. There are too many web series out there for everyone to know everyone, so go out and meet some of them and hopefully they’ll sample your show.

Please Realize: Not everyone is gonna watch your show. Blasphemy you say? – Well let me ask you this? Have you watched everyone else’s show? I know, I haven’t. I have good friends in the community who I know have not watched all of Compulsions, and our entire season runs less than 40 minutes. – So the best you can do is to  tell people about your show. Maybe they’ll watch it, maybe they wont, but hey you got out there.

There are some out there that think promoting within the “community” is a waste, but I find that false. I think it’s important to do so, but it’s not an all in. I just feel it’s a strong core to grow from. As we’ve discussed internally, this is where you’ll get your first 1,000 views, then if the show resonates your audience will grow naturally.

3. Promoting to your Niche/Audience – This is absolutely vital, and this comes from knowing your audience, and promoting to it.

Now with Compulsions, it’s kind of a hard show to niche. It’s more a thriller than a horror, but even with that classification it gave us a direction to go towards. Though hard to classify, it was easy to know what audience we’re not. Put it this way, my own Mother has yet to watch even an episode of my show. Why? Because it’s too violent, she doesn’t deal with violence, but violence is a niche audience and that’s what we started with.

In thinking violence and horror, we reached out to many online publications that cover horror/thriller type content. You have to be crafty with your pitch. Did every horror blog cover us? no, but some did and that helped us reach a strong audience of thriller fans that we wouldn’t have reached otherwise.

Another niche audience that began to arise that we never saw coming was the Soap audience. In making the show, we never thought to be classified as a ‘soap’, but after thinking about it, the core of a soap opera is (usually heavy) “character drama”. Well looking at the core of our show, I’d say we have a lot of heavy character drama so we went with it.  That devoted and supportive audience found us and in turn we began to promote towards it.

Speaking of character drama/soaps, if you want to see a well watched show that knows its audience, check out the Streamy and Indie Soap Award winning Anyone But Me. Whether or not the show is for you is up to you. But really look at what the show is about, and all the great core niche audiences you can promote towards.

4. Make the Best Show You Can - This is related to number 1, but really just go out and make the best show you can.

They say that ‘Word of Mouth’ is the most powerful form of marketing. Well Word of Mouth only happens when the show you make resonates with your audience and they pass it around to their peers, this gives your show its longevity.

In my opinion, most of our press coverage and our long period of  ”buzz” wasn’t because of how well we marketed the show, it was because of how well the show resonated amongst the audience and the press. All of our main stream press coverage didn’t come because we were a thriller. It came because the person writing the coverage really liked our show.

As Peter Drucker once said

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Thanks for reading.

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15 comments for this entry:

15 Responses to “Promoting a Web Series”

  1. Mathieas says:

    Nicely put, Bernie.

    One of the points that got cut from my piece you alluded to nicely. Most creators aren’t used to doing promotion. They come from a system or want to be part of a system where the studio or the network handles promotion. However, as the independent web series creator you are the studio.

    • Bernie Su says:

      Agreed Mathieas,

      You don’t have big studio production dollars AND you don’t have bid studio marketing dollars.

      So even though you can pull off the production with a short budget these days, you still need to pull off your marketing/promotions as well.

  2. modelmotion says:

    Something that often gets forgotten is the power of the Twitter RT. If you see a story about your show, make sure that everyone involved with the show RTs it. Things like that matter and they certainly get the noticed.

    • Bernie Su says:

      True but I feel that a lot of people overvalue the RT. If a story gets retweet 10 times, but it’s by say 8 web series creators, tubefilter, and webseriestoday you aren’t really hitting a broad audience unless one of those re tweeters has a massive following like a Felicia or David Wain.

      Otherwise you’re pretty much reaching the same central core of people, granted that the re-tweets help ensure that the core won’t miss the tweet, it’s still a very small drop in the bucket.

  3. mchmara says:

    This is a really helpful list – I’d like to ad that having pre-release content is also a really important part of the buzz build. On Riesetheseries, we starting shooting interviews with actors pretty much as soon as they were cast in their roles and started posting short interviews on a regular basis a few months before the 1st episode premiered. Having a Facebook page also helped build the pre-release fan base.

    • Bernie Su says:

      Thanks and I totally agree. I remember the pre-release of Riese having all sorts of content, it was impressive, but either way you still need to do outreach (which I also remember Riese doing a fantastic job on as well).

      Making the content does no good if people don’t see it, but having more content (whether it be pre-release or not) gives you more to market, and a better chance at getting a bigger audience.

  4. Wow I didn’t realize there were so many different places to promote web series besides TubeFilter, thanks for pointing those out Bernie. Lots of great information here, and very well written Mr.Su, thanks for sharing!

  5. Great article, Bernie. Very smart and very true. Jen

  6. Thanks for demystifying marketing for web series with such an articulate breakdown… It’s really helpful when other creators share their experiences around releasing and marketing new content!

  7. Aurora says:

    Thanks for this breakdown, Bernie:) Always researching for more stuff:)

  8. LJ Mercedes says:

    Thank you sir!

    Continued success to you and your team…

  9. newfie says:

    check out The one of a kind child webseries comming this fall it is a sweet reality show that interduces us to a sweet pageant child on a mission to show the world that one child ca truly make a difference in the lives of others series comming to you-tube,vimeo and blip this fall 2012

  10. WrongGuys says:

    Great article! This is exactly what we’ve been trying to do with our series – The Wrong Guys for the Job and we’re finding a lot of success. If you have a moment, watch our series here: And if you like it, we’d love a shout out! Thanks.

  11. [...] Bernie Su: [...]

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