Meet Harpoon, the Social Media Firm Changing the Landscape

Meet Harpoon, the Social Media Firm Changing the Landscape

This story was created in partnership with Harpoon.

From generic Instagram ads to forced paid sponsorships, these days, social media marketing is everywhere we look. But chasing influencers with massive followings and ineffective audience targeting often means that marketers aren’t seeing the response they want—with producers and distribution companies in particular struggling to effectively market their projects in the real world, even though they’re spending a lot on their campaigns.

For Harpoon, which specializes in film and TV social media marketing, much of that disconnect comes down to the fact that the content doesn’t feel genuine to consumers—something that can only be achieved through putting in the time and research needed to create an effective campaign that resonates with their intended audience.

Founded by Owen Williams, Chris Bilezikian, and Molly Conners—film and TV veterans with extensive experience in production, e-commerce, and marketing—Harpoon formed serendipitously: “We met while working on a movie together in the fall, and Chris and Owen were pitching me their unique marketing strategy,” Conners recounted. “And I thought, ‘Wow, this is really innovative.’ Because a lot of the movies I’ve produced over the years haven’t seen the ROI from distribution companies’ marketing.”

The group tried out their tactics on a couple of pilot projects—including one of Conners’ personal films—and saw immediate success. “What we saw was influencers talking about the typical blockbuster feature in their videos and then my independent film right after,” Conners recalled. “And it just felt like our film was massively punching above its weight in terms of social media.” From there, Harpoon became a reality.

Contrary to standard influencer marketing tactics that usually rely heavily on a few key macro influencers with a huge number of followers, Harpoon opts for a different strategy that focuses on a high volume of micro influencers with very loyal and niche followings.“We’ll typically see distribution companies or filmmakers pay large amounts of money for influencers with a large following, but they’re not quite aligned with what their followers are interested in, or it comes across as inauthentic,” co-founder Owen Williams shared.

“At the end of the day, unless they have a massive budget, a lot of films are really having trouble getting their name out there,” co-founder Chris Bilezikian added.

At a time when the general fatigue of social media advertising continues to grow, Harpoon’s approach offers an innovative breakthrough in the industry—creating a means for organic conversation that’s extremely rare in the influencer marketing sphere. A lot of the firm’s success is rooted in the company’s ethos of focusing on the quality of engagement, rather than looking solely at the metrics like the number of views and comments.

“By focusing on the right influencers, you get better algorithmic views—meaning that even if they do have smaller followings, people that normally watch that channel are now watching this video and liking it, which triggers the algorithm to then show it to more people,” Bilezikian explained.“So you’re getting not just higher engagement but positive engagement. Because you could look at the comments of a high follower account and they could be completely unrelated to the video or they could be calling that person out for taking money for that ad.”

In addition to their hyper-focused influencer strategy, Harpoon also makes sure to stay ahead of the latest technology and trends in the social media space with an in-house innovation team that constantly tests new ideas, media platforms, and strategies to get their clients the best results. “We have an entire division that’s focused on new and interesting pilots on different platforms and novel ways to engage—sometimes even beyond influencers—to try and create organic, earned media conversations,” Williams shared.

And evidently, the time and research the team invests pays off—for both the firm and the clients they work with, as many of their case studies have shown that their campaigns get 3X better ROI for video views and over 10X ROI for positive comments per marketing spend. “Because we’re much more focused on the content mandate and relationships, the numbers for our service have just been insanely good compared to paying big macro influencers. We really do respect every dollar present, and we’re seeing that every film client we’ve worked with wants to work with us again,” Bilezikian said.

In addition to campaigns in film and TV, Harpoon has also taken on many successful projects in politics—which comes as no surprise given Conners’ background in lobbying—and other verticals that they have plans to continue expanding. This diversity in work helps them incorporate best practices across industries that they can bring back to further innovate in film and TV. “We want to be the first call for studios and distribution partners,” Conners expressed. “And we want to continue to expand our relationships amongst many sectors as well. We’re already talking to people in fashion and finance in addition to having preliminary conversations in the healthcare space. We’re just excited about growing even larger than we are now.”

Bilezikian put it best: “It’s hard to think of a vertical that this wouldn’t work with. If there’s marketing spend, then we could probably figure out a way to increase the conversation for them.”

Recommended For You