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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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