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BLOGGrowing Social Legs: Event-powered Communities

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, Social MediaTagged as: ,

I recently had the opportunity to briefly meet Lixin Fan, director of the film “I Am Here” at TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival.  A documentary film maker, he described the challenge of condensing 400 hours of content into a 90 minute movie, as he followed his subject matter over a six month period.

Growing Social Legs: Event-powered Communities

“Selling” the movie to distributors and driving public demand for the movie was his real challenge… or was it?

Lixin Fan’s ulterior goal was to show the real China, and particularly the younger generation, to foster an understanding of the country on an international stage. At the same time, the movie’s goal was to introduce the Chinese public to the documentary film genre – an important channel of communication for a non-democratic country.

With these goals, how might digital be used? Too often, the answer to this question revolves around developing a channel-based strategy: the Facebook strategy, the Twitter strategy, the YouTube strategy, etc.  (Or, in China, perhaps strategies for Qzone, Weixin, and Sina Weibo.) While the strategy might ultimately be executed on these channels, the strategy itself needs to be set at a higher level.

For example, instead of seeing digital as a promotional tool for the movie, the movie should be seen as a promotional tool for a digital virtual community. Doing so successfully requires two key activities:

  1. Slight changes to the movie to drive people to a digital community. For example, the end of the movie might include an additional what happened to person X scene, or at least an overlay with a teaser pointing to web-only content.
  2. A robust digital platform, anchored with relevant content and special access to the director. This is where the 400 hours of film comes in. If even a fraction of this content is exposed, it will serve to promote the movie to new audiences while at the same time capturing the attention of existing movie-goers with bonus content and “back-story.”  It will also build the director’s profile, making it easier to attract backers for his next project.


While you might not have your “product” screened at TIFF, you can use this same concept within your organization. Do your events build your virtual community, or are your events stand-alone… events?  This week, grow digital legs onto your next event – not just to promote it, but to build a powerful community.

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