June 24, 2014
Photo by Mathieu Young
10 Social Media Dos and Don’ts for Filmmakers
Last week we introduced the updated Social Media Handbook 2.0 and focused on 10 Tips For Crowdfunding Filmmakers. By now, maybe you’ve diligently printed out the PDF, worked your way through the “Initiate” section, and thought carefully about which platforms to focus on. You’ve chosen consistent handles, uploaded profile pics and cover photos that reflect your key art, etc.
So now what? What exactly do you talk about every day? Maintaining social media platforms for your film is not entirely different from running your own personal account. The key difference is in your goal-setting. You may use your personal Facebook page to make the hometown Mean Girls jealous of your oh-so-glamorous filmmaker life. But in networking your film, you are aiming to build an audience that will invest in you, either with their wallets or their own social capital. So make people want to come along for the ride.
How, exactly, do you do that? Certain tenets translate.
1. DO give people insider access. Most people have never made a movie, and those who follow films and filmmakers are curious about how it’s done (even if your movie doesn’t star George Clooney). If you can give them a peek behind the curtain—in photos or video clips, show them the movie set, the editing room, the festival premiere—they will feel invested and be more apt to help if they can.
2. DON’T be a narcissist. Once you attract followers, you want them to engage, return and remain. Give them something to latch on to—have an issues doc? Set up Google alerts about your topic and share relevant news. For narratives, introduce the characters and what they have to say. “Watch my movie!” or “Donations welcome!” or “I’m so great!” gets old, and fast.
3. a. DO take your time. Everything you do on social can be seen, shared and, eventually, judged; this all reflects back on you and your film. Take time with your text (avoid typos), and make sure your key art and shared photos are professional, hi-res, and snazzy.
b. DON’T overthink. The flip side of the above is this: social media is fleeting. Spending a day and a half vetting every post with every member of your team is counter-productive. Go with the flow and get the information out while it’s still timely. And then start thinking about your next post.
4. DO “commune” with your fans. You’re trying to build a community, and there’s a reason “community” and “communicate” share the same roots. So if someone replies to a post, sends a private message, or tags your film page in their own post or tweet, answer them back—even if they didn’t ask a specific question. Just say hi, say thanks, or ask them how they heard about your film. Or ask them about the last movie they loved. Commune!
5. DON’T assume people will visit your website. Just because you write the best-blog-post-ever on myfirstmovieisgreat.com doesn’t mean that anyone will see it, your mom included. Use social networks to push your content out into the world… and to spread the word about your film, your campaign, your amazing DP, your upcoming festival screening, anything.
6. DO try to create viral content. Take the time to learn Photoshop basics. Once you’ve got mad skills, create a series of images with words superimposed; these “memes” can be the best kind of shareable content. Choose stills from your film and superimpose quotes from your characters on them. Introduce your team with photos and fun facts. (Ex: have the sound editor explain his job in a snappy sound bite.) You never know what will resonate, so keep trying!
7. DON’T be lazy. As tempting as shortcuts may be, automatic cross-posts between platforms (Twitter to Facebook, Instagram to anywhere) are a no-no. Instead, craft posts that make the most of each platform’s strengths. Twitter is limited to 140 characters, but Facebook isn’t. @Handles and #hashtags do not always travel well. Instagram photos on Twitter require an extra click to view. Get the picture?
8. DO join the conversation. In addition to talking to your own friends and fans, like and follow fellow filmmakers and people related to your film (or the issues within). Acting as your film page on Facebook, take the time to “like” other pages. Read Twitter to know what people are saying about issues important to you (and your film), and then RT, reply and converse (but don’t spam). If they like what you say, they will follow back.
9. DON’T forget to say thank you. You don’t have to do it in every post (in fact, don’t!), but let your supporters know how happy you are they are on this journey with you. Call out people on social who’ve got your back. You know how nice it is to feel appreciated, so return the favor.
10. DO be creative. You’re a filmmaker! You have ideas! Let them flow! Try new things (a behind-the-scenes video blog? a pop quiz about your film? a confessional about your filmmaking fears?), and don’t be afraid. Social media is fleeting—no matter how perfect, your tweet will probably be forgotten tomorrow, so if you screw up, try, try again.
And with that, you’re off! Remember, as a filmmaker, you’re already a storyteller. You're just finding a new way to tell this story—sometimes, in 140 characters or less.