In its 8 short years of existence, Youtube has managed to become a powerhouse online destination for all things video and, according to Nielsen, reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network. However, 70% of Youtube traffic comes from outside of the US. The site is so active, over 100 hours of video are uploaded every MINUTE and over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—almost an hour for every person on Earth!
Setting up a Youtube account and channel is fairly straightforward. It is generally based on having a Gmail account, which is free, and Youtube channels are also linked to a Google Plus account. Here is a video on creating a Youtube channel
Here is a video on how to create a Youtube channel if you DO NOT want to use a Gmail account:
In March, Youtube started implementing their new channel layout so if you have a channel that was launched before this time, you will probably find that it looks very different now. Now, there is only one large cover image, just like on Facebook, and it matches the dimensions seen on G+ 2120px by 1192px. All channels have this layout and it is supposed to make it easier for mobile devices to see the channels in a uniform way. Pay special attention to the middle section of your image because on mobile devices, that is what will primarily be seen. Those measurements will be 1280px by 350px.
Your cover image is the face of the channel brand. Choose an image that tells a viewer exactly what she is in for when she visits your channel (your brand personality) and what to expect from the project. Also Youtube will prominently display a little “intro to your channel” video for those who haven’t subscribed to your channel yet. It is like a channel trailer or pitch video which lets you highlight your channel’s value and encourages subscribing.
Examples of personality branding on Youtube channels:
As with most things online, you will want to integrate all of your online channels so that the viewer is aware you have them. Add in links to your Youtube channel that include your main website, iTunes URL, Amazon URL, Facebook, Twitter etc. Don’t forget to add new ones all through your production process since you won’t initially have iTunes/Amazon/Hulu etc links.
Be sure to include a call to action on your videos. This can be “subscribe to our channel” “join our email list” with a URL to the sign up page, or “Like us on Facebook.” These calls are best used as speech bubble annotations that flash on the screen while the video plays. You can set this up inside the Youtube video manager setting.
When you don’t yet have a large stockpile of videos created, build up playlists of videos that were not created by you, but suit the interests of your core audience. You can elect to feature these playlists when viewers visit your channel. There is the ability to configure what viewers see on your channel when they visit. Here is a tutorial on how to configure your channel sections:
Ultimately you are trying to build up subscribers on your channel, not just views. In fact, Youtube has recently redone their algorithm to favor videos from channels with a lot of subscribers because they want viewers to keep coming back to the site. If you plan to have a trailer and that’s all on your Youtube channel, you won’t attract many subscribers and you could be penalized in Youtube search. Also, subscribers give you the ability to be in contact with those who liked your video. They can be notified via email and within their homepage news feed when you have uploaded a new video.
A factor in making sure that your video can be found in Youtube search is tagging. Upon uploading a new video, you will be asked to add a title and description for your video. Write titles using a relevant and, hopefully, unique keyword. You can look for keywords using Google Keyword Tool. These same keywords will be used for your tags. Place the most important keywords and keyword phrases at the start of your tags fields. Include common and specific keywords (but not spam) and their misspellings because you want your videos to be found in any way they could possibly be spelled into the search bar. Write 12 or more tags and use as much of the characters as possible. Be sure to use appropriate keywords that will attract interest from potential viewers in your core audience.
Youtube is social, just as all social media is. Interacting with other channels, leaving comments on other’s videos, subscribing to channels, answering comments on your page will help you see better results than simply using the site to host your trailer. If you have other channels hosting your trailer (ie MovieClips or a distributor’s channel), be sure to drop in to those channels and answer comments there too. The most common question is “When can we see this film?” and it will be surprising how little those comments receive an answer. You want people to know when and where the film will be available right? Be sure to answer! Engage your audience!
Having a lot of video responses in your comment section, as opposed to only text comments, will also help indicate to YouTube that your video is popular and relevant and will help with rankings. Respond to comments in the first hours after your video is published because building comments early helps build rankings in YouTube search.
Of course, everyone likes to see their videos getting a lot of views. In fact, having millions of views can turn into media coverage and reaching the trending topics section of Youtube which then perpetuate even more views. There are paid services you can use (see Virool.com or Channel Factory) to help seed your important videos across a network of online sites. These services can be very expensive to use (often $.10-$.15 a click with very high minimums to reach), but this is the way many corporations and Hollywood studios get millions of views to their videos and trailers in a very short amount of time. You didn’t REALLY think that was all organic, did you? Video seeding in essence is paid advertising, but if you need your trailer to go viral, this is the quickest way.
Youtube can be a source of revenue for your production company via embedded advertising if you are generating a lot of views. Revenue will only be significant if you are dedicated to creating video on a consistent basis and growing your subscriber base. For distribution companies, this should be something to add to their revenue streams since they are likely to have the ability to generate a lot of video. Check into joining the Youtube Partner Program for more information.
Youtube has created The Creators Playbook with all kinds of useful information regarding using the site. The Playbook is free and updated regularly.
Sheri Candler June 26th, 2013
Time to reiterate…social tools should not be used only as a means of pushing a product. Paid advertising is the best tool to do that. Social media channels are relationship building tools, so if you aren’t interested in a relationship with an audience, you will find minimal success using them. Starting a Twitter account just a few months or weeks prior to the release of your film will not help gain an audience following that will be loyal and actually support your work. A Twitter strategy should not be cold and calculated-buy, buy, buy. It is extremely obvious to anyone using these tools that you are doing this and it is a turn OFF. Approach the online audience on a human level, using a personal voice. It allows a trust to develop and helps garner more loyalty in the long run.
Pew Research recently released its findings on Twitter users. 16% of internet users are active on Twitter, and the service skews towards black and hispanic users, adults aged 18-29, and folks who live in urban areas. It trails significantly behind Facebook as the dominant social channel, but 400 million monthly unique users visit Twitter.com, and 1 billion Tweets occur every 2 1/2 days.*
For now, Twitter is the main site for second screen activity, with 66% of mobile users active on the social network in front of their televisions, and 33 percent Tweet about the shows they’re watching.** If you aren’t engaging on Twitter to find and build a relationship with an audience, you are definitely being left behind. Also it is a great way to network with other industry professionals, some you may never have encountered in your every day life.
How does Twitter work? A little bit like text messaging. You are limited to 140 characters in your messages. But unlike text messaging, your messages aren’t sent to a single person, but anyone that follows you–and viewable by the world and cached by search engines. Bear this in mind before starting an argument online or drunk tweeting! It is possible to send one on one messages, also known as DM or Direct Messages, that are only seen by you and the other person. This only works if you follow each other.
There’s a great list of basic Twitter definitions HERE
When getting started with Twitter, choose your account name with care. It should reflect who you are, your “brand voice,” and attract people to follow you. Ideally, you should use your own name and your profile photo and background images should visually represent who you are or what your project is. Do not pick something cute and nonsensical! As opposed to Facebook, you can change your Twitter name, or handle, and all details about your account with ease on your own, so if you have made the mistake of choosing a Twitter name that doesn’t give good representation of who you are or what you are about, you can change it. All account names will be run through a checker to make sure they are unique so you may have to try a few different names if yours is somewhat common.
Here are a few good examples:
Write a clear, concise bio and include a URL link to your professional website or landing page. There are only 160 characters to use in this About section so get to the point and leave a link for people to click to find out more about you. It is up to you to choose whether to name your location city, but do add the country to give an idea of your origin.
Once you have everything set up on your account to make a good impression to potential followers, let’s find some interesting accounts to follow. Using keywords that reflect the type of creator you are and topics you are interested in, find accounts with similar interests in search tools like Twitter itself, WeFollow, Twellow, and Twiends. Twitter will work best for you if you are following interesting people who offer a lot of value. Often, people give up on Twitter early on because they don’t “get” what the platform does. This is the case when you follow a small group of people who also don’t “get” what the platform does. A useful account will give you great links to information, make connections between you and their following, hold regular conversations and generally use Twitter to make connections with people. Be judicious with whom you follow as your newsfeed will fill up with tweets on a constant basis and you want that stream filled with useful content, not irrelevant or obnoxiously self promotional crap.
For a while, you should only “listen” and take in the way people interact with each other. Best not to start in with “Hi world, I’m on Twitter. Check out my work” because your first impression will not be good. As with all things social media, overt self promotion is not appreciated and won’t win followers straight away. When you do launch in, try responding appropriately to a post someone made or retweeting it. You might also post a useful link yourself, prefacing it with why you think it is useful to those with similar interests.
Now, the thing every filmmaker wants to know. How to get followers? Unless you are a celebrity who has built a vast audience on other media channels, attracting followers will take time and consistent effort. You can buy advertising from Twitter in the form of Promoted Accounts which is part of the “Who To Follow” feature suggesting accounts that users don’t currently follow and may find interesting. More info on that HERE.
You could also go the no monetary cost route by doing these things:
-Make sure that your Twitter handle is posted on all of your communication including email footer and newsletter, website, other social channels, business cards and your official bio that you use in festival catalogs, at the bottom of a guest blog post, really any About You section. The easier you make it to find your Twitter handle, the more followers you will get. Makes sense;
-Tweet interesting things! The more links to great content you post, the more likely people are to retweet (RT) it, thus spreading your Twitter handle to more potential followers;
-Interact with other twitter accounts. Remember, this is conversation in 140 characters. Take few minutes of your day at least twice a day to drop in on those you follow and see what they are talking about. See what you might add to that conversation;
-Post your own links several times a day. The Twitter stream moves very fast so if you post something only once a day, or once every few days, it gets buried quickly. Post several times throughout the day, every day. Where to find these links? Use TalkWalker or Feedly to monitor blogs and publications that post news relevant to your interests and the interests of your audience. You can post these on your other social channels too;
-Take part in Twitter hashtag (#) discussions. On Sunday night, there is a weekly Tweetchat for scriptwriters (#scriptchat). On Wednesdays, a weekly Tweetchat for post production people (#postchat). Almost every film related live event has a hashtag associated (#sheffdocfest, #sundance, #ifpweek, #LAFilmFest etc) and by participating in these events, even if you can’t attend, you will interact with people on Twitter with similar interests and it helps build up a following. You can also do this for events or discussions related to your target audience. Related to hashtag discussions-anytime you post something that is of interest to your target audience, use a hashtag within the tweet so that those who follow hashtags will see it (ie. Making a ballet film? use #ballet. Making a film about civil disobedience? You may want to connect with those following #Taksim or #occupygezi right now). To find popular hashtags, check HERE;
-Did you read a great post or see a great film by someone you want to know on Twitter? Give them an @ mention complimenting their work or sending congratulations. Chances are you will get a follow by that person. Be genuine. Do not use this in an obsequious manner, it is very obvious;
-Include your account to Twitter directories like the ones I mentioned above so your account will be found by others;
-Add a Twitter widget to your website that displays a list of your latest tweets and a button to follow your account. These widgets are plug ins that can be integrated into Tumblr, WordPress, Joomla, Blogger etc platforms. Either ask your developer to integrate it or visit the blog platform FAQ section to find out how.
Most people do not manage their Twitter accounts via the Twitter website and often they use mobile devices rather than a computer. Tools such as Hootsuite allow you to set up columns on one screen to see your newsfeed, your @mentions, your DMs, your Sent tweets and any other keyword or hashtag you want to follow. If you manage more than one Twitter account, you can set that up in Hootsuite too.
As with anything online, you will want to monitor your results. Obviously, you’ll want to see your follower count climbing, but you should also want to know what kind of material you are posting that is making an impact by being shared (RTd), how many people are interacting with you and who they are (these are your super fans), and whether your activity on Twitter is driving interest in your work. Tools like TweetReach, Who Shared My Link?, Who Tweeted Me, and Google Analytics to measure the Twitter traffic to your website. A great article on how to set that up HERE.
A few Twitter DON’TS:
-Don’t autofollow. You want a quality news feed, not one full of useless tweets;
Sheri Candler June 19th, 2013
Facebook is the KING of the social networks (for right now anyway) and, with over 1 billion accounts, there is bound to be some measure of audience for your work to be found there.
Some Facebook stats:
Over a 170 million of the 572 million people who reside in the United States and Canada use Facebook. Europe ranks second in total penetration with 38% of 595 million people using the service. In Asia, Facebook counts just 5% of the 4.3 billion people who live there.
Since this series is geared to basics of getting started or for those who have started, but haven’t progressed very far, I am including this video tutorial [I didn’t make it] on opening up a business (fan) page. You WILL need to have a Facebook personal profile in order to administer a Facebook business (professional) page. If more than one person on your team will be administrating your page, they must first Like the page and then you can choose them as an admin.
A couple of things to think about:
-Are you mainly interested in building this page to show a distributor that you have audience awareness for this film?
-Are you mainly interested in building up audience for all of your work now and in the future?
The reason I am asking you to consider this is it is a little difficult to change the name of your page after it reaches 200 “likes.” Rather than opening a lot of pages and abandoning each one (and the audience you have built) after the film’s marketing push is finished, think about opening one page either for yourself as a professional or for your production company and keeping that audience with you for all of your projects. The way Facebook is set up for search is a little wonky because if someone searches for the title of your film in Facebook search, they may not find it if listed under your production company. But they are improving their graph search all the time and if you do a good job promoting the name of your page on your website, in social ads and in all communications, the chances of people making that connection increase. If you have already opened pages, there is a way to change the name of an existing page, but it isn’t easy if you have over 200 likes. Facebook wants to discourage the practice of building up an audience on a page and then selling it to the highest bidder and confusing those who have liked one page that is then turned into something else.
More on how to request a name change here.
If your only interest is trying to sell to a distributor and have them take over the page, then proceed with setting up under the film’s title. If you have read any of my writing, you will know which route I think you should take 🙂
As for category, you can change this later, but you might choose Company, Product, or Movie as a starting place.
Chances are you won’t be aware of even half the ways you can control and customize your new fan page. Luckily, Mari Smith made a great infographic that breaks it all down for you HERE. I suggest you just print it out and tape it to your monitor!
Ok, so you’ve set up the page how you want it and you’re fairly versed in how to navigate it. Now what?
Create a descriptive cover image. Consider this space the visual representation of whatever it is you want your audience to connect with when they first visit your page and are in decision mode about joining it.
If you want to highlight your current project, make some variation of your key art the main image with a photo of yourself or your logo as the small, profile image. I often refer filmmakers to band and actor pages because they use their cover image to promote their latest work, while keeping their own fanbases.
If you want to showcase all that you are involved in as well as what kind of person/company you are, consider a creative montage.
What do you want people to associate with your brand and feel emotionally about joining this page? They will make judgments about it before they have read one word of synopsis and it will be the difference between joining the page and clicking away. Make your cover image something that defines your identity. Dimensions for the cover image on Facebook are 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall.
You can hire a professional designer to make your cover images, you can get them made pretty cheaply on Fiverr, or you can try it on your own by using sites listed here.
Facebook guidelines have changed and now images may contain calls to action (subscribe, like our page), contact info (a URL or email address) or references to price or purchase information, while maintaining the 20 percent limit for text overlay, meaning that your text can take up no more than 20% of the image.
–Why Facebook is no longer FREE. The company readily admits that it uses its EdgeRank algorithm to restrict your posts to reach only about 16% of your fans in their newsfeed for free. What is EdgeRank? It is the Facebook algorithm that decides which posts appear in each user’s newsfeed. The algorithm hides boring status and post updates, so if your posts don’t attract comments, likes, shares, they stop showing up in your fans’ newsfeeds. Why should you care? In order to keep reaching your fans for free, you need them to take an action on your posts so it stays in their newsfeed. While you could desperately beg them to act, you could also start posting things they would care about and want to share. For more on EdgeRank, see this post.
Say that the majority of your fans have stopped interacting with your page and you want to regain their attention or announce something really important. To overcome the confines of EdgeRank, you will need to have an advertising budget from which to pay for sponsored stories, promoted posts and Facebook advertising. All of these methods are relatively inexpensive compared to pricing out AdWords, newspaper/magazine,TV, radio and outdoor advertising. You wouldn’t pay to reach all of your fans with every post, but it is a good way to push out important content and updates that you want all of your fans to see. As guidelines change all the time, use Google search to look into your best options for using Facebook ads to help build up a following on your page and to direct traffic to your own website or screenings/online store.
–Lots of Visuals. As Facebook continues to change its newsfeed optimization, they have recently said photos and videos will take precedence in the newsfeed. This means you will want to post a lot of visually compelling material as it will have more weight with EdgeRank. These could be photographs, infographics, video clips (not hosted on Youtube, hosted on your Facebook page), Instagram images, and perhaps pulling in your Pinterest Boards through a Pinterest app on Facebook.
–Post several times a day. The more engagement you have on the page, the more likely your fans will continue to see your posts in their newsfeed (the free way to reach your fans). The newsfeed is constantly updating and if you only post once a day or once every few days, your news quickly disappears. Many of your fans do not visit your page specifically, they only see your posts in their feed so make sure you are updating often.There are tools like EdgeRank Checker that tell you, based on your page’s history, what times of day are best to post for maximum engagement.
–Let’s get some fans! An organic and low cost way to start building your fanbase is by inviting your personal friends and family and the friends of your page administrators to like your page. The more administrators you have for your page, the bigger that pool of friends so consider adding several administrators. Note that administrators have power to make changes to your page so be judicious about whom you select for administration and be sure to revoke that power if an admin leaves the production.
Another way is driving traffic from your other online endeavors. If you have a website, Linkedin page, Twitter account, and/or email signature, post a link to your Facebook page on those. Every place that you are communicating with people should have your social channel information. Probably ALL of those people have Facebook accounts, they just don’t know you have a page to join.
Another way is through spending money. While you can complain about this, think about how else you might potentially reach 1 billion users? There isn’t another way that doesn’t involve money and Facebook is no different. What I like about Facebook advertising is you can get so granular about who you are trying to reach. There is much less spending waste here and you can see fairly immediately how the campaign is going and make adjustments.
For instructions on placing Facebook ads and promoting stories, go here.
–Use Facebook Insights. Monitor what kinds of posts get interaction and are popular so that you will know what kind of content works best on your page.
This is going to take time, patience, experimentation, creativity and consistency. Don’t start a month before you need to start asking the fans to do something. If you are opening the page as your professional or production company page, START NOW.
The next post in this series will cover Twitter.
Sheri Candler June 12th, 2013
In the last post, I talked about the mindset change that artists have to go through in order to successfully use social networking. In this post, I want to dispel some myths that people have about how social networking works so that you won’t fall into unrealistic expectations. Other posts include Mindset Change, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube
Myth #1 Social networking is FREE
While it is possible to set up accounts on social channels for free, the expense of time and money to maintain them is not. To accomplish goals on social channels takes planning, creating compelling content, optimizing it for search engines, and publishing it on a consistent basis. If you plan to have a person dedicated to handling all of this for you, they should be paid. If you plan to have Facebook as your main channel for audience engagement, you’ll need a budget just for promoted posts and advertising to help build up the page and keep in contact with the fans you attract (more on EdgeRank when I cover the Facebook platform). Running social media “campaigns” of any kind will take money as they are essentially an advertising function (Campaigns are short term efforts meant to have maximum impact. More on this below.)
Myth #2 It works FAST
As anyone who has been active on social channels will tell you, building up a significant following takes time. Lots of time. Everyone starts with zero. If you were planning to use social channels as your main tool for gathering attention for your work, I hope you have already started giving to a community well before you will ask favors of them like spreading the word on your work, attending screenings, buying merchandise, etc. This isn’t a 10 minutes a day kind of activity (contrary to what some social media authors would have you believe), it is an activity that should be ingrained into your creative life starting now.
Myth #3 You won’t need a website, just use Facebook
It is extremely unwise to be completely dependent on a 3rd party site to keep you in touch with an audience. What if that site gets shut down? What if they close your account? What if they change the rules about what you can do with your page/take away functionality? That direct connection to an audience is in jeopardy when you allow a 3rd party to have control over your account. Your website is YOUR online real estate on which you are building your creative empire and you must have control over it. You will want to control how it looks and how it functions as well as collecting data on your online efforts and on your supporters (email, location, interests etc). While you will use certain social tools, first and foremost you must have a site that is under your control and from which you can make money.
Myth #4 An intern is fine to handle it
Would you let an intern speak for your production on Entertainment Tonight or in the New York Times? Social media channels have a global reach and are cataloged in search engines to be found at any time in the future. Anything published from your social accounts represents YOU and your work. Letting just anyone speak for your brand is not a good idea. The best person to let loose with that kind of responsibility is not your 23 year old intern just because she is “good at Facebooking.” That isn’t a knock on 23 year old marketing professionals because, if they have business training and marketing skills, they are definitely a great member for your team. Social media is really many things wrapped into one: marketing, customer relations, media relations, crisis management, and branding. It will probably take a small team of professional people working from inside of the production (as opposed to hiring an outside firm) to find long term success using these tools. If you entrust a member of the production, intern or otherwise, with this responsibility, make sure your social accounts use your company’s email and everyone has access to the passwords. Otherwise, you could wind up with no access to these accounts if and when that person leaves.
Myth #5 Social media works like advertising
Unknowingly, you may be using your social channels like advertising. Advertising puts out one way messages designed to interrupt the widest audience as possible usually to sell something. It is a paid tactic where the receiver has little choice but to be interrupted from what they are trying to do (watch a TV show, listen to music, read an article, drive in traffic etc). Advertising is about pushing a message with little regard for those who hear it.
Social media is a pull tactic. Rather than interrupting people with messages they don’t want to receive, social channels enable people to give their permission to speak to them by following your page or your account. They expect not only to hear from you, but to speak back to you and they expect you will listen and respond. A dialog, not a monologue. Also, they follow you based on things you share that are valuable to THEM, not just to you. Advertising doesn’t listen, or require any dialog. It is a one marketing tactic of several you can use, but don’t confuse it with what people expect on social channels.
You may use the term “campaign” to speak about using social channels to advertise your work, but social networking is not a campaign. Social networking is a long term, ingrained activity that professionals now have to incorporate into their lives. A campaign is a short term effort meant to drive toward one specific goal and definitely involves spending money to make sure that campaign is heard.
In actuality, any place online where information can be published, commented upon or shared is considered social media. That pretty much encompasses the internet. Now that I have outlined over the last 2 posts how to approach your efforts on social channels, the next few posts will dig into the main 3 sites commonly referred to as social media being used by most people; Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
Sheri Candler June 5th, 2013