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, FacebookTwitterYoutube

social media myth

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.

 

 

 

 

 

June 5th, 2013

Posted In: Facebook, Social Network Marketing

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

For the next several weeks, we will feature information for filmmakers who want to get started in using social media for their personal career and for their projects. These posts will be very basic in nature as we have realized that many members are confused/apprehensive/non tech savvy and we want to encourage them to be excited and proactive about sharing their work with an audience. At the heart of all social network marketing is the authentic, human need to connect and communicate with like minded people. This first post will prime you for the mentality change you need to succeed in using social channels. Quick jump to subsequent posts MythsFacebookTwitterYoutube

Changing the mindset and finding the time

Before starting with questions like which is better, Facebook or Twitter, we need to recognize that the whole idea of sharing online and communicating directly with an audience takes a monumental shift in thinking. While it was the accepted norm that an artist would be separated from her audience and expected to create away from the public eye, only allowing them to see the work when it was launched into the market, this is no longer the case. Artists, and all people and companies really, are now expected to be open, accessible and willing to speak with the public.

Whether one agrees with this expectation is immaterial, it is a fact and those unwilling to accept it are quickly falling behind. Are there well known artists who haven’t accepted this, who still enjoy popularity despite being inaccessible? Yes, for the time being. But 99% of artists reading this post do not fall into that category and cannot compare themselves to these personalities. Even within that category of artists, there is a changing mindset with very prominent directors (ie., Ron Howard, William Friedkin, Darren Aronofsky, Spike Lee etc), cinematographers (Roger Deakins, Matthew Libatique), producers (Frank Marshall, Dana Brunetti, Gale Anne Hurd) and screenwriters (John August, Craig Mazin, Roger Avary) actively using social channels on a consistent basis. If they can find time in THEIR schedules, so can you and you must.

audience shouldn't be disposable

Ending the disposable audience mentality

Every project you make is a startup product, but meant to further the whole of your career in the future. Your body of work should build on itself, growing in experience and helping to push out to the wider world with each successive project . However, it is a mistake to think that audiences also have to be looked at as a new startup with each new project. I would like to do away with the practice of discarding the audience after a film has run through its release windows. This goes for artists as well as distributors. It is extremely wasteful and even rude to court an audience for a period of time and then drop them only to start up again in a year or two or to regard them as mere receptacles for your one way advertising messages. The audience is growing used to expecting access on a near constant basis with brands (if you are an artist, you are a brand) and your brand needs to be more than a logo. It has to be a personality, an identity, it has to show the world what you believe if you expect any loyalty or relationship.The days of viewing your audience as some abstract entity or eyeballs with wallets are over and the days of thinking that all you have to do is make great work and it will just be found are over. Artists need to start cultivating their own audiences for a sustainable living.

Starting from Open, Random and Supportive*

Closed, Selective and Controlling. This is the mindset we have been used to in most aspects of the arts and in business. We have been operating mostly away from the public, hidden behind a logo and faceless entities we hired to speak for us (distributors, managers, agents and publicists). We listened to selective voices and we allowed only a selective group behind our closed doors of creation. We controlled all access in how our work was seen, experienced and who could talk about it or share it. This is NOT the world we live in any longer.

we're open

We need to open ourselves up to meeting all kinds of people and listening to all kinds of voices. Openness helps us grow. 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. A major change in human communication has happened and the days of closed, selective and controlling are not returning.

Accept Random information. There is an endless supply of information streaming at us every day and the answer is not to cut yourself off from it. Learning to filter the noise, analyze the random in order to find the relevant is becoming a human skill that we will need in order to evolve and survive. Our children are already learning to do this, we need to catch up.

The Internet operates best in an open environment where sharing information, educating people, and building a large number of connections breeds success. Rather than thinking from greed and competition, think about how much faster you can grow your success by being Supportive of others and giving instead of only figuring out how to take from them.

Social channels are only tools

No matter which channels you choose, know that they are only tools to help accomplish your goals. When evaluating the tools, be realistic about the strengths you are going to bring to them yourselves. If you aren’t much of a writer, blogging probably won’t be a good tool for you I don’t care how much people say you should blog. Having a poorly maintained blog is worse than having no blog. If shooting video or photos is more your speed, then using Youtube, Instagram, Vine etc are tools on which to concentrate. If you would rather engage in short, pithy dialogue, Twitter will be your best tool. Not only will you need social accounts, you will need to populate these channels regularly. If you pick a tool that is torture to maintain, you won’t do it and you won’t accomplish much with it.

Goals to accomplish**

One goal for artists is to secure funding and one of the biggest opportunities in funding art projects is crowdfunding. You know what is at the foundation of successful crowdfunding? Having online connections with a core group of supporters.  Crowdfunding can help you expand an audience, but it is extremely rare to have a successful campaign starting at zero connections. If you don’t have an active presence online, it will be exceedingly difficult to raise money this way.

Another goal is industry networking. I haven’t met a first time or unknown filmmaker yet who didn’t say they wanted their work to be a calling card to lead to future work. While you can tour the festival circuit or hit all of the pitchfests in hopes of making industry connections, you can also accomplish this by following prolific industry executives online and interacting with them in a valuable way. Valuable in this instance meaning how you show your value to them, not how they can be valuable to you. We’ll talk about adding value in subsequent posts.

Reaching a group of interested people. While you can do this only through releasing remarkable work, you can do this on a daily basis as well. In sharing what drives you artistically, professionally, you can pull in those who have the same sensibilities as yourself. You can also be a catalyst for meaningful dialog and change. If the thing that drives you as an artist is to raise awareness or give a voice to the voiceless through your work in a visual medium, you can do the same thing on social channels every day. You can mobilize communities and create change.

In the next post, I will talk about the main myths behind social network marketing and you may recognize a few that you believe to be true. In subsequent posts I will highlight the main social channels in use today. Bear in mind that new channels are being adopted and existing ones are being replaced every day. Also there are near constant changes to the capabilities on existing channels. Such is the challenge to using these tools, but the core of what you are trying to do with them is not changing. Connecting and relationship building with an audience will become a cornerstone of your creative success no matter what online tools you use.

*based on this talk from Thomas Power.

**based on Jon Reiss’ 5 goals common to filmmakers when releasing their work

 

 

 

May 29th, 2013

Posted In: crowdfunding, Marketing, Social Network Marketing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

By Sheri Candler

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.

artists rarely use social media correctly

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 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.

 

August 29th, 2012

Posted In: Marketing, Social Network Marketing, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , ,

This week’s tidbits are from Sheri Candler and will cover her assessments about successful crowdfunding initiatives.

To some artists, crowdfunding looks like easy money. Make a pitch video, give a synopsis and a few perks and let the money roll in. That’s a mistake. To be successful in crowdfunding depends on having a solid foundation of followers, people interested in your work. If you don’t already have a presence on social networking platforms, a well read blog, and/or a large network of friends and supporters, build that first before starting to crowdfund. If you try to raise money before anyone knows you or cares about your project, you will fail to garner interest.

August 16th, 2010

Posted In: crowdfunding

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As previously stated, many distributors will have marketing procedures in place to help sell your film when it is ready for distribution. The true use of a social networking strategy comes long before your film is ready for distribution.

A social networking strategy will take many months to a year to implement and it will be an ongoing effort. This effort starts with you and your team first. You will determine whom you are trying to attract into your community and what you have to offer them of interest. It is NOT all about your film, in fact very little direct mention of your film is best. Follow the 80/20 rule, 80% of your assets are about the interests of your audience, 20% of your assets are telling them about the film. You will build your engagement pages and populate them with interesting and valuable content. You will not be asking your supporters for ANYTHING, merely building a solid base of supportive fans who will be there when you are ready for distribution.

You should never do anything that will make them feel that you have formed the community in order to use it for your own purposes. Companies and filmmakers who do this stand to ruin the very thing they have spent so much time developing; a genuine and authentic community that is very loyal and connected to you and your film. That kind of loyalty is extremely difficult to accomplish with advertising and it is really the ultimate goal of all brands.

August 13th, 2010

Posted In: Marketing, Social Network Marketing

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