I recently answered a few questions for the kind folks over at Fanbridge about using online tools such as their service to connect with audiences for your film. You can see a bit of what they offer on the Joffrey Ballet Movie page that I am administering and on Dying To Do Letterman’s page on Facebook.

My answers got really long, so they are releasing them in stages. The previous post on my blog dealt with identifying the exact audience characteristics of the film and starting to connect with them early in the production process, like even at inception, like even when you are building up an artist identity.  Today’s section deals with ways filmmakers can use social media to build a following. You know, social media is more than just Facebook and Twitter and it is certainly more than just sending one way messages, canned and automated to a certain time of day.  Here is more of what I have to say about that.

What are some ways that filmmakers can utilize social media to build a following?

“First, they should be using it personally – well before they have a project to promote. The tools are just too easy to access and younger audiences just demand it. They really don’t know a world where it didn’t exist. People may see advertising, but they are now checking everything out online for information and personal recommendations, so if you aren’t there and your film isn’t there, it is like it doesn’t exist.

Social media is also not just Facebook and Twitter. It is anything on the web, any link that can be shared or commented on, anywhere you can upload content, which is pretty much the whole internet. You should be there with a unique voice. Speak with passion and have something definite to say. Not everyone will agree with you, but you aren’t really trying to attract everyone. You just need to attract a following of those who would be the most interested in what you are doing. Your following will grow slowly so be patient and give it plenty of time. Consistency is key so don’t be erratic with your interactions.

I laugh about books and posts that want to teach you to use social media in 10 minutes a day. It is like trying to regulate how you can maintain relationships in your life in 10 minutes a day. Yes, you need a routine, but the more effort you devote to this, the better it will work. Schedule blog posts, but don’t schedule tweets and Facebook updates. You have to be there for the conversations, you can’t do it “drive by” and expect people to follow you. You have to be present to cultivate a relationship; it can’t be like a message on your answering machine. People don’t have patience for the one way conversation.”

Something I did not say which is quite important here is the need to constantly develop content that grabs attention and keeps it. This is very difficult and important work. I read a tweet this week that said “Social media is free…free like a puppy” and it couldn’t be more true. The easy part is setting up the accounts (actually taking in the puppy) but the spend comes in time and effort (the puppy training, feeding, grooming, vet bills which are like your bills for the tech guy) you will be spending with it. If you aren’t prepared for it, it will fail.

I will be speaking more about this in an upcoming FREE workshop in Lafayette, Louisiana this Sunday November 20 from 2-5pm as part of the Southern Screen Film Festival. If you’re in Louisiana, come join us. This is not going to be a panel discussion, it is real information and real tools that you can take away and start implementing that evening.

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