The internet and its trends come and go as fast as a check when rent is due in a couple days. We went from basic blogs published through Blogger and LiveJournal to social media platforms like Myspace, Facebook and Twitter being the windows to our digital souls (Remember profile songs on Myspace and actually liking when people poked you on Facebook?). Today being a part of social media feels mandatory to network with companies, brands and other individuals which could lead to job opportunities, new friends or even the love of your life but having a website is reserved for the people who are truly serious about the work their doing. Don’t get me wrong, you can pay a monthly fee to get a nice template website from WordPress or Squarespace to host your resume or promote your mixtape but established artists, entrepreneurs and creators’ websites need to reflect the level of their career or at least the level they’re aspiring to be on.
Wix is one of the most popular website development platforms and the accessible tools on the site makes it easy for anyone to create their own space on the internet. From small business owners, lifestyle bloggers to even prominent directors like Spike Lee, the level of clientele for Wix is diverse and over 110 million users have created websites with the platform. After seeing promo for Lee’s latest film BlacKkKlansman on Instagram I noticed his social media links to his website for his company 40 Acres and a Mule and I was underwhelmed by the Wix based site. With a following of over 741,000 people on Instagram, when fans click the link to Lee’s site, they’re probably expecting a well-designed space that prominently showcases his current projects, future projects and any information that reflects his legendary career. Instead fans can find a bare bones site that’s far from the polished website for the BlacKkKlansman film. With 3.1 million paid Wix subscribers and an average of 45,000 new users signing up every day, the platform will make tons of money regardless of its creators sites but Spike is missing out on some revenue that comes from branding and utilizing the internet beyond social media.
The critically acclaimed film BlacKkKlansman based on the 2014 memoir Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth had a moderate level success in the box office (total worldwide gross of $24.9 million with a $15 million budget) but if you check Lee’s website, you don’t see a site at the same caliber of a “summer blockbuster” film. When you have an audience as diverse and digitally savvy as this successful director, it’s important capitalize on the potential traffic your website will receive. Focus Features created a website to promote BlackKkKlansman and it’s the bare minimum of what I would expect a website promoting a major film should look like. The website is simple, giving users access to a film trailer, social media for the movie and biographies of the main characters of the story but the design is sleek and perfectly fits the vibe of the movie. 40 Acres should be just as engaging and be an example for the aspiring black filmmakers and entrepreneurs that want to see how one of the greats advertises their movies.
With social media being essential to advertising your content and connecting with fans, it’s important to have engaging content ready for whoever clicks on your Instagram or Twitter. While Lee’s Instagram gives a good representation of the director and his current projects, a quick scroll through his Twitter only shows links directed back to Instagram and I would love to see Lee’s team challenge themselves to make all of their digital presence as captivating as the movies and shows that are being promoted within the space. Besides links to his Instagram there aren’t any Q&As on BlackKkKlansman, or commentary on what’s going on with current events. I’d even accept a retweet of a popular meme, something to show the true character of the person owning the page. Spike Lee has a lot more important stories to tell on and off the screen and his team should amp up his personal promotion sources.
An argument could be made that Spike Lee is so big that he doesn’t even need social media and I would agree. If Lee didn’t want to put in the effort to utilize social media or hire a social media manager, he could let the studios handle the film promotions and live a peaceful social media free existence. But giving an advertising effort that doesn’t match the quality of the work being promoted isn’t a good look for the culture or his projects that are looking to gain more than a social media buzz. Solid engagement can lead to more tickets at the box office and Lee should be an example for black filmmakers and black entrepreneurs when it comes to every step of creating, releasing and promoting a movie. Adapting to the all of the aspects of using technology for business is key to being an example of a powerful presence in the film industry.
Article By: Marcel “The Messenger” Jeremiah