Social media basics for filmmakers-Twitter
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