Filmmakers Using the Web to Build a Brand

I am obsessed with social media. As a documentary filmmaker from the old fashioned school of long-form storytelling, I am completely taken with the newest form of telling a story:  tweeting it in 140 characters or less on Twitter Or telling the ongoing saga of your life in status updates, photos and links on Facebook. A blog like this one is so old fashioned, really. It’s so 2008. But call me old school, I do like scribbling out a story, setting it up with a lead, even a rambling one like this one, and taking you, the reader, on a journey.

 
And Twitter and Facebook aren’t all that different really…you’re just telling a story serially, in small installments over time. And the totality of what you are crafting with every tweet and with every status update, link and post, is the story of you as the character in the movie of your life and career. In marketing terms, you are creating your brand. If you are a filmmaker, or any type of creative professional, the brand you put out there as “YOU” is what will get you jobs, funding, respect and recognition. Are you using the web as well as you could be?
 
Here is a fast list of web resources and some quick thoughts on how you can use them to tell your story, build your brand and get more recognition for the work that you do.

twitter.com – Are you tweeting? A Twitter account is a fast way to create an online presence and to start networking with like-minded folks who are interested in the same types of subject matter, be it film or the subject of your film. You can also, over time, build a reputation as being an expert in your area, and be in the same social media circle as other experts you would like to reach and collaborate with. Open a Twitter account and join the online conversation and meet some new people. Commit to tweeting 3-4 times a day for a short period of time so you get the hang of it, then you can just set up a time to tweet 1 or 2 times daily (first thing in the morning, and at lunch, for example). Or you can use a utility like TweetDeck or HootSuite to program your tweets. Post a picture of yourself and tweet like a person! And always thank the folks who follow you. BTW, you can follow me, too!

facebook.com – If you are a filmmaker, you should have a personal Facebook account, a Facebook page for your production company and a Facebook page for each of your film projects. Pages allow you to separate your posts by subject and relevance to different groups of followers. People can “like” your page, and that means that they will get a status update from you whenever you post a status update, photo, video or link. These are the fans of your work, people who want to hear from you. They are your allies, and a Facebook page gives them a place where they can contact you and keep tabs on what you are working on. You can build fans of your company and your film over time throughout your production and post production so that when the film is released, you have a small army of people who can help you spread the word and get folks into the theater.

YouTube.com – Go to YouTube and create your own YouTube channel and start uploading short video clips to share with your viewers or short work samples from recent or previous work. By building a body of work online you help create a powerful online presence for yourself as a filmmaker. The search engine for YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, after Google. Shouldn’t you be on it? Also, I can’t tell you how great it is when folks want to see your work and you can point them to a link online. Super fast, and it makes you look like a real pro.

google.com/profiles – Speaking of Google, you can create a Google Profile, which includes as much information as you would want people to find of you online. This helps Google direct traffic to you when people are searching for you. And it helps you to control the links you want folks to see.

LinkedIn.com – I was one of the original LinkedIn naysayers, and years later, I admit that I was wrong and I have gone back and accepted all those invitations to connect. LinkedIn is serious business…folks in the business world look here to see your credentials and check out your professional circle. As a filmmaker as well as a film worker (and most of us are both), I think this is a great place to send folks to see your resume and your glowing references. You have gotten people to give you references, haven’t you? Again, be sure to post a great profile photo of yourself. People want to see who they’re doing business with. And film is a business…and all your connections on LinkedIn are people with potential funding and resources to help you make your film. And update your status regularly. My brother told me he once got a good paying gig because someone with whom he had never worked, had just seen a status update from him. Status updates = free publicity for you, your film and your work.

flickr.com – As filmmakers we are visual storytellers and we want to reach all those folks we are now connected to with images as well as words. Posting pix on Facebook is fast and fun, but it doesn’t reach all those folks who are not on Facebook. But if you post your pix on one site, be it Flickr or Picassa or Twitpic, you can then post links to your photos on Facebook, Twitter, etc and you can email folks and send them a link to your pix. Carry a camera or your smartphone with you on every shoot and take behind the scenes photos, then post a photo or two to your fans and followers let them into your filmmaking process.

klout.com – Ok, for those A students out there, don’t get addicted to checking your Klout score.
These folks have developed metrics to measure how effective you are at getting your message out through social media. You can check it over time and it will tell you how well your strategy is working, and you can experiment and see if your score rises or lowers.

These are just a few of the free resources that are available to all filmmakers on the web, to help you become your own best publicist and get the word out about your film and your work. Which one will you try first?

If you want to know more, I’ll be speaking about this topic at the Honolulu Women in Filmmaking Hawai‘i meeting on June 29, 6:30 pm at the ARTS at Marks Garage. In my next post I’ll talk about crowdsourcing and the Kickstarter phenomenon…

 

Documentary editor with a heart of gold. Seasoned PBS documentary editor, writer, producer and story consultant, specializing in social issue films with a bent towards changing the world.

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