I was recently interviewed for a blog and was asked about using social media for marketing a film. It really got me thinking about that question. Is that all most filmmakers see social media being used for? One big promotional effort only to be used when they are looking to sell something? I think within 10 years this will be a non issue as everyone will be adapted to social media. Those who have refused to start will be so left out it will be like the people who held out on rotary phones and terrestrial TV signals.
The world has changed with this remarkable tool that enables you to reach others on a personal level no matter where they live. We have the ability to hold this tool in our hands and it is used for more than just speaking into. Filmmakers should focus on the word social and less on the word marketing. Using social media is about relationship building and it is really difficult to build a relationship that starts from the premise that you are only there to sell something. Everyone always says “in this business, it is not what you know but who you know” and if that is true, then why are you only using Facebook and Twitter to send out one way messages?
There is a really great talk by Thomas Power from the TEDx conference about the digital mindset. It was pointed out to me by my friend Obhi Chatterjee who is a film sector specialist and case handler at the European Commission. I met him on Twitter and I have actually met him in real life. He lives in Belgium. I think this is an important idea to consider because many artists I encounter are reluctant to enter this digital world and they aren’t really sure why they need to. They create art, films, books, music and normally that is conceived in a bubble and only a set crew of people are enlisted to help in its creation. After that, other people, business type people, figure out how to tell others about it and sell it. The artists of the past were not involved much in how that worked because they went back into the bubble to conceive more art. For musicians, they did and still do tour and maybe that is why they are a little better at dealing with an audience.
Privacy is dead, so says Zuckerberg and if we follow that line of thinking, then audiences will expect information sharing to take place and not just sharing of a promo code. They will also expect to share with you and not receive a canned reply and sharing with others who are like them united by a connection to you. How will you cope with this going forward? How will you connect with this audience of openness if you only see these platforms as a way to sell? ”We have to rewire,” says Power because we didn’t grow up in a world of “connectedness” and those a little younger won’t have this problem. They only know a world with the internet and social media in it. The amount of information coming into your life is already much greater than it ever was. It comes by the second, not by the day. Power says it will increase by a THOUSAND times by 2020.
An excuse I hear and even use myself is “I haven’t got the time to do this work” or “I just don’t understand what the big deal is with social media.” If you think the information load is too much now, what will a thousand times more of it be like for you?
Open, Random and Supportive is what Power advocates for all of us and how he sees this new digital landscape. This mindset change means that we have get away from something that studios, distributors, publicists, managers and agents all adhere to which is a Closed, Selective and Controlling mindset. The longer you hold onto this way of thinking, the harder it will be to grasp the digital reality.
Be Open in accepting that this change in how people communicate has already happened, no matter how much you wish it hadn’t or how much you think it is just a phase.
Accept Random information. There is an endless supply of information streaming at us everyday and the answer is not to cut it off, lest you cut yourself off from society. Part of your learning process is filtering this massive amount of data, curating and sharing that information with your connections and they will do the same for you.
Being Supportive is the new black. Rather than operating from greed and competition, think about how much faster you could grow by helping others instead of only taking from them. All of us have to do this and truly mean it. I think we’ve all had enough of faceless governments, institutions and corporations who hide behind closed doors and figure out how to wring out everything good from the world for their own benefit. If there is anything that Wikileaks has taught the world it’s that there are no secrets on the internet. Look at Arab Spring, or SOPA or the Susan G. Komen crisis’ and you will see that people are using the internet to mobilize in large numbers at short notice to stand up against something that isn’t beneficial to society.
When I am asked about whether using social media is beneficial for a film, my answer is knowing how to use social media is beneficial period. It isn’t just a marketing tool for your film, it now should be part of your life as an artist.
Here is the whole talk from Thomas Power about having a digital mindset