Why I Can’t Break up with Facebook (Yet)

April 28, 2014
posted by sheric

Today’s guest post was written by Gabriel Diani in response to my post asking filmmakers if Facebook is still worth their time? Gabe thinks it is for his work, but for reasons that pertain specifically to his audience demographic, which may not be the case for everyone. Ultimately, this is a decision that everyone who uses Facebook for business reasons must confront and evaluate. 

can't break up with Facebook

Let’s be clear: I have no love for Facebook. 

The changes to their sharing algorithm since they took the company public nearly torpedoed the Kickstarter campaign for my movie “Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse.” Much has been written about it since then but in case you don’t know, here are the basics:

-Facebook now only shows a small portion of your posts to your friends unless you pay to boost your post;

-Facebook only shows a small portion of your page posts to the people who have liked it unless you pay to promote your post;

-Even if you pay to promote or boost your post and more of your friends and followers see your posts, they are not paying to have their posts boosted so any LIKES and SHARES can’t go viral as easily as they used to.

There’s certainly more Facebook is guilty of, but these were the main changes responsible for Facebook dropping from our number one referrer for our previous successful Kickstarter campaigns to number three behind our personal email list and Kickstarter itself.

So, yeah, I’m not the biggest Facebook fan and was delighted by Eat24.com’s fantastic open Facebook break-up letter to the world. Sadly, though, we can’t afford to break up with them ourselves yet. Why, you may ask, dear reader? Well, I’ll tell you in an easily digestible numbered list.

1) WE HAVE AN OLDER DEMOGRAPHIC. A lot of the audience we’ve built up over the years tend to be more in the 30 years old and up range…sometimes way up. These aren’t the people constantly seeking out the next social media platform. Some of them are on Twitter, fewer on Vine, and they have no idea what Tumblr, Instagram, or Snapchat are. We have no way of migrating these people to another platform…at least not until the Facebook backlash gets strong enough to affect this group.

2) WE’RE STILL GETTING INTERACTION. It’s not like it used to be and we can’t reach a lot of our audience, but we still get interaction from them that we’re not getting elsewhere. I posted our first behind the scenes production still the other day on my personal page and got 43 LIKES and 2 SHARES.  Pics on our DDMTA Facebook page and from cast and crew timelines are pulling in 16-40 LIKES as well. Is that enough for us to tell the world about our movie? Absolutely not. But in the world of micro-budget producing it’s something we can’t afford to lose.

3) FACEBOOK WAS STILL NUMBER 3 IN OUR KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN. Despite it’s nefarious fall from grace, Facebook still was a bigger referrer than Tumblr, Reddit, Google+ or any of the growing platforms. This is partly because we haven’t spent years building up our audience base on these platforms. We created a video for our campaign with Janet Varney from the hit anime show “The Legend of Korra” that was reblogged and shared on Reddit and Tumblr thousands of times, but it didn’t translate into very many pledges.

4) WE DON’T HAVE EAT24.COM’S AUDIENCE. Eat24.com got a lot of great press off their leaving Facebook and probably got a lot of followers on Twitter and whatever other platforms they’re on, but they also undoubtedly lost some followers/fans who aren’t on those other platforms. They were starting with a much larger audience than we have so they can afford to lose some.

It would be lovely to be able to follow Eat24.com’s lead and break up with Facebook in protest, but unfortunately we’re stuck with it for the moment. We will definitely be focusing our audience building efforts on other platforms in the hopes of being able to cut the cord some day…and who knows? Maybe Facebook will start treating us like it did when we first started going out.

Sigh.

 

What about you? Have you seen a decline in your Facebook reach and interactions or is your page still holding steady or growing? Let me know in the comments along with any advice you want to share.

 

 

 

 

Conversation on marketing your film

February 13, 2014
posted by sheric

Last week, I was interviewed on the BlogTalk Radio show The Art of Film Funding with Carole Dean. I usually prepare for such interviews by taking notes on what we will cover and I tend to over prepare. Often, most of what I want to say will not be covered due to time constraints. While you may listen to the full 45 minute interview here

Popular Film Internet Radio with The Art of Film Funding on BlogTalkRadio

I have also pulled out a few notes for emphasis that I think weren’t included or that I wasn’t able to go into detail as much as I would have liked.

What do you think are the best uses of social media for marketing?   Example, how best can you use Facebook to help fund your film?

Sheri: “To me, social media is a non negotiable part of every professional person’s work. You don’t just jump on it because you have something to promote, you are creating and perpetuating your identity and your work EVERY DAY. You are forming relationships, expanding your professional network, learning new information to help you do your work and sharing that information with others EVERY DAY. It is a marketing tool, but it is really a life tool now. Stop viewing it as a time suck or procrastination because those are cop outs. It is essential to be able to navigate social channels as a professional, at any level. The same with being able to network in the physical world.

I don’t see social media as a campaign and I want that statement to soak in for a moment. A campaign is a short term effort to push people to do something. We very much live in a world where consumers, all of us, are resisting anything that is trying to push us to fit into someone else’s timeline. We want to do what we want, when we want, wherever we want, on whatever device we want. We are all selfish people. So companies and individuals that are still in that corral –the- people- to- do- what- the- company- wants mentality are going to lose in this new world. Think of these channels as a way to storytell what you are about, what your company is about, what your product is about, how consumers may accomplish something for their own lives whether is it physical accomplishment or gaining knowledge or well being. It isn’t about YOU, it is about THEM. Pull them to you rather than push messages out. And you have to commit to storytelling on an infinite timeframe, not for a short period.

What other social networks do you consider to be worth the time?

Sheri: “Choose a social channel you can learn and be comfortable using. If you don’t, it will be a drudge for you and you won’t have success there. If you are hiring someone to handle your social channels for your projects, choose places where the audience (again, you have to know who they are) hangs out the most and where that person has the most experience. In my case, I don’t use Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat or Youtube because I have my own blog and I don’t take regular photos or edit together video and I don’t create short term offers. So while I may set up an account just to get a better look at it, I don’t spend my personal time there. But if I find that the audience for a certain project dictates that I use those sites, I would find someone to help me create content for them.

Storytelling on each platform is different so if you think you can use automated programs to blast out one piece of content on multiple sites, you are doing it wrong. Each site has a different format (Twitter 140 characters, Instagram photos, Pinterest photos) and a different reason people use it. For instance, Pinterest is a place people go to show what they intend to buy, what they aspire to buy, what shows off their personalities. But Instagram, also an image based social channel, is more about the immediate. What the lunch I am eating looks like, what my travel is like, what I saw on the way to work, what my friends and I are doing right now. Putting out one image to all the sites is a mistake because you won’t be tapping into the reason people are on those sites.

Don’t get too used to a particular social channel. They change often and not always for the better, they fall out of fashion, they get absorbed into other companies that are not always interested in seeing them grow. Plan your strategy around reaching the audience wherever they are and build your email list instead. That is where you truly have communication control because you own the contact details.”

Do you suggest filmmakers trade hours of social networking time for credits or other things? Or what do you think is an average hourly wage to offer someone to post and tweet for you?

Sheri: “I think we need to get away from this mentality that marketing is just posting online and tweeting. This is the voice of your company and your work presented to the global public. If you wouldn’t trust someone to speak for you at a press conference or go on TV as your representative speaking about your work, you shouldn’t let them be in charge of your Twitter account. And you should never allow someone to post or tweet as you personally, you are basically allowing them to BE you and I don’t think you should be comfortable with that. If you have a team of people using your social channels according to your business strategy and goals, then let the public know it is a team effort, put a face on it.

Again, marketing is way more than an ad or a poster or a tweet or a status update. There should be strategic thinking behind what you are doing and professional people help figure out how to achieve goals. Generally, they aren’t paid an hourly wage, they are paid a salary or a retainer fee and they had better be doing more than updating your Twitter feed every day.

Personally, I charge a monthly retainer fee with a minimum time frame or I charge an hourly fee for consultation and guidance. But with the retainer, I had better have a marketing plan and budget in place to work with. That fee is just for my time and experience, a labor cost. My work includes influencer outreach, blogger outreach, community management, advertising placement, content creation and curation, and measurement analysis. I also charge to research and write a marketing and distribution plan if that isn’t already in place or those plans may be implemented by others, so if you already have people in place to implement the plan, but you are unsure of how to start, I can help figure that out and work to train those people. I wouldn’t advise skipping over the marketing strategy and just let people post on your behalf.”

Have you seen films with good marketing plans be successful especially because of the marketing plan?

Sheri: ”Define success. Did they make all of their money back? No, usually independent films don’t. Did the filmmakers go on to get other work or have a much more significant release because they were prepared and able to give their film the release they wanted? Yes, and that was a success for them. Remember, not everyone’s goal is money. In fact, let’s be very upfront and say that money is rarely going to be made by the original investors of an independent film. If that is the main reason for making a film, stop now. Find another avenue for your talent. Invest in some other industry.

But if you are interested in expressing your storytelling talent, showcasing the talent of others (because films are made in collaboration with others), putting your voice into the world that only a film could help you do, investing in something that can last and may even change minds, hearts, bring people closer together or create a cultural dialog, then filmmaking is a great medium for that. Humans invest in things all the time that do not financially recoup. We put our names on buildings, we buy yachts, we take vacations. None of those things will have financial rewards, but they do reward emotionally and that is valid.

It isn’t ultimately the marketing plan that makes a film successful. It is the film! Failure is less often on the execution of the marketing plan and more often on the failure of the film. It isn’t hard to get word of mouth to spread on a stellar film; people love to talk about stellar. It is sooo hard to make a mediocre or bad film succeed. What constitutes good and bad is debatable of course, but if the people you have identified as the ones who should be the most excited by your story aren’t talking about it, then you are going to be in big trouble. They HAVE to like it or your story failed. And that happens in studio films as well as indies and TV shows.

I am not going to say that a good film will just naturally be found. I’ve heard many filmmakers say such nonsense. A great film in your hard drive isn’t going to be found. Someone has to see it and you have to get it in front of them, and that’s marketing (to get their initial attention) and distribution  (getting it onto a screen for the public). But once you get that attention and an audience does see it, and their reaction is MEH, uh…you can’t just throw more marketing at it and make it successful. And that is why you see distributors pull the plug early on films. They know the return on the film won’t justify more expense and they can take that money and throw it behind the next film in the slate.

Now, it is possible to have poorly identified who the audience was and tried to attract the wrong audience and the film didn’t take off,  but if you do the proper nurturing ahead of time and you really feel like you nailed the story based on early feedback from the right core audience, you may give more time and more expense to letting the word of mouth spread and slowly build. Unfortunately, this is not done enough in the industry, everyone wants a quick hit. There are very few entities that have the patience to let a film sink in with an audience once it has been released. It is much better to deeply cultivate the audience for a film early so that when it is released, it will flower sooner. That cultivation is only going to happen if the production does it. Distribution entities have far too many films to release. They can’t give a lot of time to each one in advance of a release.

No one that I know of is posting their marketing plan and budget online and even if they did, it wouldn’t help your film unless you are making one exactly like it. Plans are unique to the film, they are organic in that they do shift and change according to what is learned in the field and new tools cropping up that weren’t there when the plan was written or tools that changed or fell away. Some event may happen in the news that is unforeseen and you have to be able to take advantage of the opportunity.

It is not wise to copy, but it is useful to read a lot of material of what others are doing and see if you might incorporate something similar.  That information might even come from another industry like gaming, or software, or apps, not just film. If you don’t want or like to keep up with the trends, you should hire someone who does! I don’t keep up with happenings in editing software or cameras or audio recording because I don’t make films. I keep up with marketing trends and tools and tactics, that’s my professional work and that is why you hire someone like me for that  job. I am not merely your tweeter or your facebooker, so if you think that is all there is to marketing, you are seriously mistaken and all the tweeting and facebooking in the world isn’t going to help you.

There are many blogs and industry publications and videos from panels at film fests where the filmmakers all talk about how they marketed and distributed their films. If you want to spend lots of time studying this, Google is your friend and get used to using a search engine regularly. There is absolutely no excuse not to know how to do something if you really want to handle it on your own. But if you don’t, then you need a budget to pay someone who has expertise in the field and has handled releasing films or may just be starting out doing that (as you probably have in making films) and you need to get that person on your team. Simple as that.”

My latest post for MovieMaker Magazine covers social media basics for the top 5 social channels. I have written posts regarding social media basics before, but this piece will include Pinterest and Instagram which I did not cover last time. As you may know, I do not view social media as a campaign oriented endeavor. Campaigns are only conducted for a set amount of time (usually for a sales promotion), but I think it is important to understand that social channels are an every day effort; they should be integrated into your creative life indefinitely. The sooner you start using them professionally, the easier it will be to gain benefit from them, especially if you are thinking of self distributing or crowdfunding.

I am not going to republish my article here in its entirety and only the first installment has been published on the MovieMaker site, but here are some highlights:

#1 Facebook 750 million unique visits per month

What do you do with it? Use it to start and maintain an ongoing relationship with your audience. Ask for feedback, start a discussion, or post your views on a current event.  Try to remember, if you only talk about yourself and your work, it’s a boring conversation for everyone else unless you are a celebrity that they are truly interested in. Champion your followers and other artists.  As opposed to the fleeting nature of Twitter, Facebook pages are meant for deeper discussions and closer relationships with your supporters.

social media page on Facebook

The indie documentary DMT: The Spirit Molecule is a good Facebook example to follow

 

#2 Youtube 450 million unique visits per month

What do you do with it? Build a video subscriber base.  View counts on videos are great and definitely have a use in securing optimal placement in Youtube search and publicity attention (though it will take many millions of views for it to have an impact on press coverage), but your subscribers are the ones who will see your new videos in their homepage newsfeed and receive an email when you post something new.  Also, encourage Likes, comments and shares of your videos as that impacts how Youtube ranks your channel in its search results. If you aren’t prepared to fill this channel with regular content that is HIGHLY compelling, don’t use this social tool.

 

social media page on Youtube

FreddieW’s Youtube Channel has over 6.5 million subscribers.

 

#3 Twitter 250 million unique visits per month

What do you do with it? Use it to post short (less than 140 character) messages that are funny, informative, or reflect your outlook on life.  Not only will you be connecting with the audience of your work, you will also find Twitter a great industry networking tool (for jobs!) and a place to connect with journalists (for media coverage). Make sure that your Twitter handle is posted on all of your communication including email signature and newsletters, website, other social channels, business cards and any About You section where your name is included.

#4 Pinterest 85 million unique visits per month

What do you do with it? Use it to post photos and videos found or created online. Pinterest runs on  well made and captivating images. People who use this social channel are looking for visual masterpieces or images that speak to their lives and emotions. Filmmakers may use Pinterest to tell a visual story about how they became the artists they are; influences, professional tools, and the tastes, style and personality behind the work. For individual projects, Pinterest can be used to tell a backstory on characters (individual boards set up to further explain a character), information on the setting of the story, and mood boards that give the audience a sense of what the film is, apart from just a trailer or poster.

 

social media page on Pinterest

Indie film producer Ted Hope uses Pinterest to show the world who he is and what he cares about professionally.

 

#5 Instagram 50 million unique visits per month

What do you do with it? Use it to post photos and videos taken with a mobile device as your visual representation of every day life rather than a place to post high quality images. Instagram is being used to post on-the-fly photos and short videos taken on the set and making 15 second short trailers and character teaser clips specifically for mobile viewing. Feedback is instantaneous so you will know very quickly if your project is capturing attention and gaining followers.

 

The full article details how to set up accounts on each social channel and some examples of independent filmmakers to emulate because they excel at building an audience on these channels. The first part (covering Facebook and Youtube) is now live. The second part will be live on November 25.

 

Sheri Candler

 

Facebook News Feed Algorithm Changes

August 26, 2013
posted by sheric

This is a summarization of a White Paper from Hubspot entitled Crash Course on the Facebook News Feed. If you aren’t receiving info from both Hubspot and Mari Smith on changes to Facebook (because they happen All. The. Time!), you should sign up for their newsletters. Social media is an ever evolving tool and you or someone on your team must be aware of the changes.

The average Facebook user’s news feed  filters through about 1,500 posts a day. After the Facebook algorithm is factored in, only 20% of the stories posted by every page and every person a user follows will ever be seen organically. You know that devoted following you are working hard to build on your film’s Facebook page? You are regularly only reaching about 20% of them in an organic way with your status updates, links, photos, videos etc. Facebook reasoning for this is they want to “curate” what a person sees so that their experience on Facebook doesn’t become an overwhelming barrage of information. In order to be seen in the News Feed (without paying to be there!), we have to share or create such compelling information that resonates with our followers so that they will react in some way that signals the Facebook algorithm that they want to continue to see information from us. If they don’t, EdgeRank (the algorithm) will start filtering it out (without their realization) and we’ve lost them (or we can pay to get our news back in front of them through Promoted Posts).

Affinity+Weight+Time Decay=EdgeRank

How close someone is perceived to be to your page based on their interaction with the posts on it+Value of the post based on how many Likes, comments, shares+Amount of time that passes since the content was posted=How often they will see your news.

Facebook serves up about 300 stories it believes are interesting to each user based on this algorithm. The algorithm looks at the last 50 people/pages each user has interacted with and takes that to mean those are the people/pages the user wants to hear from most. It serves up those posts in chronological order as they were posted. If a particular post receives a lot of interaction (many likes, comments or shares), especially by a user’s friends, it will now bump that post to top of the news feed so a user won’t miss seeing that story.

Facebook also tracks what kind of content a user tends to interact with. If users like many photos, it will start showing more photos in their news feed. MANY people like photos, so start thinking about providing more images on your page post haste! In the new Facebook Insights, you will be able to see which posts have gathered the most Likes, comments or shares. Use that as your guide on what to post. Maybe video is better for your fans. Maybe status updates or links are better. You can read all the studies from test groups that suggest things, but ultimately, your audience is unique and you can see what they like from your own Insights chart.

Optimizing for the News Feed

Since many posts that involve an image receive greater feedback, one of the practices that is recommended is using a photo whenever possible. Rather than posting a link, which pulls in a thumbnail image, try posting an image, and pair it with a link.

Example:

hubspot FB example

As posts are now curated, in part, by what your friends and fans like, it is wise to encourage commenting and allow for sharing your content on your fan’s pages. Also, focus primarily on those who comment and share the most on your page because they are your page’s biggest assets. They are helping to insure that your posts are going to be seen in a wider way on Facebook. As a side note: I use a plug in called Booshaka on the pages I manage so that I can see who my top 50 most active evangelists are. Get to know these people! Lavish them with personal attention!

Of course, sharing and commenting only happen if your page has awesome content. It has to have value and be interesting to those fans or it won’t elicit a response. If you are posting regularly, but you aren’t getting many Likes, comments or shares, you need to re-evaluate what you are posting. It shouldn’t only be information about your film. The people you attract have other interests too, you need to find out what those interests are and create/curate material that speaks to what they love. Hopefully that also speaks to the overall identity of your film. Branding isn’t all about a logo or a “message,” it is also about an emotion, a lifestyle, an interest base. Show your fans you understand them, you are part of them, and you are bringing them together under a creative work. You will see more interaction when you walk outside of the bubble of your own work.

 

 

 

 

Changing the name on your Facebook fan page

June 6, 2013
posted by sheric

Few weeks go by that I am not invited to join a filmmaker acquaintance’s NEW Facebook page for their latest project. I like to be supportive, but I am pretty judicious about joining  pages and besides, isn’t this turning into a maintenance problem for most filmmakers?

Open a page, keep it up for a while until the film does the festival circuit and goes into digital distribution, then open a new page for the next project. How about instead of opening up new pages, project by project, you just open ONE page for your professional work or for your production company? I frequently talk about ending the disposable audience mentality, so let’s stop abandoning the fans of one Facebook page in the hope that they will join your new one.

Did you know that you can change the name of an already existing Facebook fan page? If you have over 200 Likes, it isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible. The old rules were that you could NEVER change the name of your Facebook fan page or the vanity URL after reaching 25 fans, but with the new updates, Facebook has relaxed that NEVER a little bit. Mainly, they are worried about spammers opening pages, filling the page with millions of “fans” and then selling the page to the highest bidder (you know it would happen!). Plus, who wants to join one page and have it turn into something else? People would be more pissed at Facebook than they normally are.

Be aware:  Pages with Non US based administrators do not currently have the option of requesting a name change.

There are 2 ways to change a Fan Page name. If you have less than 200 fans:

Go to Edit Page >Edit Settings>Basic Information

If you have less than 200 likes, you can change your page name under the Name field. If you have over that number, the Name field will not be editable.

 

FB-Page-Name-Change-Under-200

 Most filmmakers have worked pretty hard to get over 200 Likes, so here is how you request a name change:

From the top of your Page, click Edit Page>Edit settings>Basic Information>Request Change next to the Name field and fill out the form that pops up with the required information and click Send. On the form, you will need to provide some kind of proof that you legally own the page and that you are changing it for rebranding purposes only.

TFC FB name change example

The Request Change option sometimes doesn’t appear even if you haven’t changed your Page name at some point in the past (it didn’t appear on my page settings, but it did on The Film Collaborative’s page).

If your Page has more than 200 likes, you can only change your Page name ONCE. If your request has been approved, you won’t be able to submit another request for that Page. Changing your Page’s name does not affect its username or Page URL address, but you can change those yourself, as long as the new names are available on Facebook.

Now, about that Form you have to send in…

fb name change form

 

Hopefully your production company is a LLC and has some kind of mail coming with a name and address in the US. Facebook is particular about how you prove that you are the page owner. You’ll have to scan it and attach the document. As with anything concerning Facebook, you are at the mercy of Facebook’s customer service people whether they will approve and change it for you.

Remember, if you are successful at changing your Facebook page name, you will need to change the URL and name on every communication you have that features your Facebook URL. Also change the URL in any buttons you have on your website.

For anyone who hasn’t started a page yet, just set it up under a business name to begin with because this is rather a pain to do. But if you have a page you want to change, at least you will be able to keep the audience base that you already built.

 

The Future of Storytelling

October 8, 2012
posted by sheric

This annual, invitation only event was held last Friday in New York City. Unfortunately, I did not attend and I am quite disappointed because I would much rather spend my time listening to people like this than the ones invited to speak at most film industry forums. It was just pointed out to me that videos from some of the speakers were loaded up to Youtube and I encourage you to check them out.

For anyone interested in understanding the way storytelling is evolving; from fan participation to using digital tools for promotion and distribution to understanding that there may be no more stopping points in a story; watch this series of videos from some of today’s big thinkers.

Brian Seth Hurst explains that audience and storyteller can achieve levels of engagement with each other that were never possible in the pre-Internet, pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter era. This fact is fundamentally changing the way stories and storyworlds are conceived, disseminated, and branded.

 

Ian Shafer explains the way stories take root in the individual and collective consciousness nowadays. Narratives are delivered in smaller and smaller bits, the most successful and influential stories—whether an advertising spot or a Facebook post—are designed less for digestion than for quick and easy sharing: vibrant, picture-driven packets of information that invite surprise and make you want to type, “Hey, check this out.”

 

 

David Weinberger explains now knowledge lives on the hyperlinked Net, and links offer a never-ending invitation to go further, to know more. The cardinal challenge of the storyteller in the age of networked knowledge is to expose us to points of view other than our own, to free us from the “echo chamber” of narratives that merely reinforce what we already know or believe. The best stories should honor a simple yet stubbornly elusive truth: that different people start from different places, and that what happens to them matters just as much to them as what happens to us matters to us.

 

 

You can see all of these short videos on the Future of Storytelling Youtube channel. 

 

 

Are you brave enough to shun social media?

August 31, 2012
posted by sheric

This post was originally published on The Film Collaborative blog on August 29, 2012

It is a question I was thinking deeply about because I encounter filmmakers and industry players all the time who say that they put up a Facebook page, opened a Twitter account, started a Youtube channel, but the people didn’t come, views didn’t go up and the sales didn’t happen.  So what’s the point? It doesn’t work, clearly. I know they opened those accounts because it is “the thing to do” and besides it was free which is totally budget friendly, but just opening up accounts with no time, commitment, team, strategy, budget to maintain and grow them and truly utilize what they are best at  is not going to work and I recommend to go ahead and close them. Seriously!

Yes, social media is the newest communication tool (really it isn’t that new, but some still think it is) and Americans in particular spend almost 80% of their time on the internet (30% are online globally), with 22% of their time on social networking sites and 21% of their time in internet searches (there are over a billion search queries on Google every day!). I’m sure you can find another way to communicate with these people though, perhaps visiting door to door or cold calling or throwing obscene amounts of money into advertising all over the place and crossing your fingers (works for Hollywood). You’ve got that kind of time and money, yes? Honestly, start now thinking about what tools you will be using instead.

 

Which one has been your strategy?

 

Once I look at what is being done with these sites, I am hardly surprised that it isn’t working. Most artists do not have a commitment to building up strong ties with an audience, they do not use social tools for “listening” and researching what audiences respond to, they do not post regularly except for “please make it happen for us on Indiegogo,” “Vote for my film on (name some film contest site),” or “my film is now available on iTunes.” Basically the chatter is all “do something for me” which is really tedious to read (I would say every day, but they don’t usually post regularly). For many publicists, this is how the channels are used as well; here’s a press kit, write about my client except that instead of only reaching writers, they are broadcasting to everyone and rarely listening at all.

 I wrote some time back about how Facebook wasn’t a good sales medium and I still stand by that post though there have been changes at Facebook that affect showing up in a newsfeed and the use of landing pages. Facebook, of course, would have you believe that it is a good sales tool, after all they have the most to gain from perpetuating that idea  in the business community.

If all you are using social media for is sales, STOP. I release you from feeling the burden of using auto tweeting and sending that same message through all of your profiles. No longer should you hire outside companies to do it for you either and pretending to be you. If you have done this, you already know it doesn’t work. Stop paying companies to send 5 prewritten tweets a day about your film to their 60K+ followers. You will not find that it makes much difference if that is the only effort you are making. Stop making inquiries for “some of that social media stuff” so your trailer will “go viral.”

Here is what the tool is very best used for; name/brand recognition, trust and loyalty building, sustained interest, long term sales and that most indescribable feeling of connection that begins to permeate. This is really an emotional space and it is something I would think independent artists would understand, you express ideas and emotions in your own work, right? And you hope to convey that to other people and elicit some kind of emotion from them. I know you don’t usually start from “I’m making a product that’s going to sell” point of view so why do you use social sites that way?

I say indescribable because you can’t point to that one “campaign” that brought your work to someone’s attention, it is an ongoing process that sinks deeper than “a message” or tagline and begins to spread and lasts far longer because little pieces of your thoughts, your connections and projects leave footprints behind online; not just on Twitter and Facebook, but everywhere on the internet globally. Someone who stumbles across your efforts, even years later, can find you and evidence of your work. No ad campaign or newspaper clipping is going to allow for that. Many people point to Twitter streams and Facebook newsfeeds as being fleeting and they are, but you can make more, endlessly. Can you do that for little money with an ad in the Times (pick a city) or a magazine cover story? While you may feel like you reach more people in a short amount of time, there’s a new cover story tomorrow or next month about someone else. There are only so many covers to fill, only so many talk shows to be on, only so much space in the newspaper or magazine for ads. Should you ever use traditional media? Should you ever use advertising? Yes, of course, but now you can have one more tool to use that is available to anyone, anywhere. You can choose to use it or not, but make sure you understand how to use it correctly and commit to doing it, every day. Also come to terms with the fact that if you are choosing not to use it, you are totally dependent on having third parties promote your work. New artists emerge every day and very few companies [and consumers!] are truly committed to anyone.

Without a commitment to developing a community of supporters by using social media, save your time and possibly money and find another tool. You won’t be successful here.

Sheri on Google+