Social Media for Filmmakers
“Find us on Facebook.” “Follow me on Twitter.” We see social media everywhere these days and rightly so. Tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and more can help small businesses, one man shops, and large brands grow and expand their contacts with clients and customers. This includes filmmakers. The opportunities are great for both raising funds online and for distributing your work.
“But I don’t have time for anything else!,” you say. We often need to make choices about where to best spend energy and resources, but social media is a “must do.” What it has done is to allow us to connect with thousands of people in new ways. We’re actually having conversations and engaging friends and followers on an individual basis while others peak in.
It’s about building relationships and telling your story. When done in the right way, people feel like they know you in some way, so be genuine. Be you, not a sterile corporate-like presence. They are much more likely to support the project of a friend, rather than a stranger. That’s why it’s important to start building your social media presence early, long before you will specifically call on people to open their wallets for you or spread the word about your work.
Another piece of social media’s power is that of word of mouth. Your followers will be evangelists for you. A retweet, Facebook share or a Google+ click pushes out their endorsement of you to all of their online friends. That means an even greater reach for you.
So where do you start? Although the accounts are free, your time is the premium. In terms of reach, Facebook and Twitter are the two places to begin. As a filmmaker, you will also want to use YouTube and Vimeo for video content. Create accounts on LinkedIn and Google+ to at least see what others are doing.
This is a micro-blogging service in which you send text based “tweets” of up to 140 characters. When you create an account, upload a photo that represents you or your business along with a description that includes important keywords.
Using the search function, find other Twitter users to follow who share your interests. Many will follow you back. Find influencers in your niche to follow as well. You will also want to follow those who you might view as competitors to see what they are doing. Check it out first to see how others use it and model what they do.
Tweet about anything that is of interest in your business – new blog posts, video clips, what you worked on that day, seminars attended, etc. Also throw in a few things about events in your personal life, but don’t be tedious.
Retweeting is a key to success on Twitter. This is when you send someone else’s Tweet along to your followers. You will want to do this for your friends when a Tweet is particularly interesting, but also do this strategically. Do it for influencers. Do it for people you want to get to know. You can build retweeting relationships and reach more people this way.
Hashtags are used to mark specific topics in a Tweet. For example, we used #ActofValor and #ActofValorFilm when talking about the new movie release. The hashtags make it easier to find the topic in a Twitter search and are measured to see what topics are trending.
Another good example is use of the #Canon hashtag. A search at hashtags.org shows steady use, an increase with the Act of Valor release and a discussion of the use of the Canon 5D Mark II, and then it exploded with the new release of the Canon 5D Mark III camera.
Answering any questions that come your way is also important. For example, Zeiss, Small HD and Tiffen do a great job of helping followers use their products and decide what to purchase by interacting on Twitter. You will also see that they are able to promote their lenses, monitors or filters by talking about films or filmmakers who utilize these products. This is a great way to promote what you are doing, but not make it one big sales pitch.
This is important. You obviously want to use social media as a promotional tool, but just posting about sales or requests for money is not the way to go. You need to be part of the conversation, rather than treating this as an announcement service.
With more than 845 million active users, Facebook is the second most visited website in the world (after Google). It is a social networking service that allows individuals to connect with friends, family, colleagues and long lost school buddies. Its power for you is also in Facebook pages designed for companies or public figures to interact with followers. As an individual, the limit is 5000 “friends.” As a page, the sky’s the limit, so make sure to create both and use them differently.
Facebook allows you to post with more text than Twitter, so don’t make the mistake of treating it like Twitter. No need to concatenate. You’ve got enough space to expand on your message as well as post links, pictures and video.
Try to post questions or topics that will get your followers involved. Sweepstakes and contests are also great ways to encourage new people to “like” your page as a means of entry. HP is a large corporation (and we are fans of the HP Dream Color monitor), but they are still able to use Facebook to interact on an individual level.
Not all posts are created equal on Facebook. Your followers won’t always see your posts, since the newsfeed is prioritized by something called EdgeRank. The more shares, comments and likes your posts receive, the more likely they will be seen in your followers’ newstreams. This makes it all the more critical to be engaging and engaged. Photos have been shown to be a great way to do this as well.
This has been a quick rundown on the how’s and why’s of Twitter and Facebook. Tons of tips and information exist out there on the web, but it can be a little overwhelming. If you are totally new to this world, we suggest asking a friend or colleague for help in setting up accounts the first time the right way. If you don’t know anyone who has used these tools for business, get some help from a social media professional. Posting on Craigslist can be a good place to find a few hours of consultation at a reasonable price.
If you don’t have time to devote to social media, and it can take a lot of time, you may want to consider outsourcing it if you can fit that into your budget. You should be posting at least several times a week to maintain your contacts. Some is better than none, but make sure to add social media to your work schedule as a priority.
Look for more information later on other social media outlets.
Social networks are great when used correctly. I feel like I know you a bit and ran out to see Act of Valor not just because I was interested in the story but also because I felt like I kind of knew the guy who shot it.
What’s tough is when you become huge on these networks and you have so many followers that you have a hard time responding to people. When someone I admire responds to me It makes me feel great. At the same time I understand if they don’t. We only have but so much time to focus on things.
For independent filmmakers social networks are important because it is a way to get people to see your work and hopefully help you launch your career.
With all that being said, I’m glad Shane shares so much information to us. This use to be impossible and I’m glad to see someone giving information to inspire and teach aspiring filmmakers.
Thank you for another informative post.
More tips like “EdgeRank” would be helpful in the future.
Just wanted to pass along a Thank You. I realize you ate very busy, but you always take time to share your insights and respond to questions. It means a lot that you do that. By interacting on your site, you have made me a better filmmaker. Just wanted to pass that along. Rock on.
Great post. The power of social media is insane. To think that over the last 5 years it has had the power to bring down entire governments and spread social activism is mind boggling. The possibilities are endless for freelance Directors, DP’s, etc. I think ultimately its made the world a smaller place and allowed us filmmakers to create a new business model. No longer do you have to work 20 years in the industry before you’re able to operate a camera. However, I think this is a double edged sword as the market is becoming much more saturated with content.
Thanks for this wonderful article and great tips. In my opinion, the power of social media will peak within the next few years. Now is the best time to start take advantage of opportunities that they offer . That is my opinion :)