Film Fund-amentals: Wanted, Social Skills

Don’t you just love it when someone seriously asks if they should consider using social networks for business purposes. You can genuinely and sincerely give them a wide-eyed look and go, “Well, duh!”

Yes, we are all stuck using the social networks. I say stuck because like any sane person, I have a lot of ambivalence about the whole idea. I mostly use Facebook because it gives me a chance to keep track of family members whom I only see at funerals. I have a Twitter account, but I am still trying to figure out what I am really supposed to do with the dang thing. I do a lot of professional postings on Linkedin simply because it was the first social site I signed up for and I feel too settled in to move out. I recently signed up for Pinterest but have yet to do anything with it.

I get all socialized out pretty quickly, and if I really had to use this stuff in a major way, I suspect I would be worn to a frazzle in about thirty minutes. Unfortunately, the current process of indie film-making demands otherwise. Even the most anti-social filmmaker has to become a social network butterfly.

The use of social sites is now essential at virtually every level of the business. (And yes, indie filmmaking is a business.) It starts at the very first tentative step of attempting to raise money for a small production, especially if you are using the crowdfunding approach. You can go online and get loads of explanations about the need and application, ranging from the scholarly (Thomas Lambert and Armin Schwienbacher’s An Empirical Analysis of Crowdfunding) to the more layman friendly and concise (Rich Brooks’ 11 Tips for Crowdfunding: How to Raise Money From Strangers). But an article at says it best (Digital Marketing, Social Media & Crowd Funding). The key to crowdfunding is getting a crowd, and this is where the social networks become extremely important.

A major function of the social network sites—is networking. A lot of what goes on there is an extension of what is traditionally called public relations. In the old days, public relations consisted of a lot of socializing, phone calls, and press releases. This also allowed the PR staff ample opportunities to get drunk and order free meals. Those were good days.

Now, it involves the hard work of developing and maintaining various social network sites as a means to create a constantly changing and evolving web of contacts, postings, and information to attract followers and possible associates. You’ve got to pull people in, get them engaged, and maintain their excitement level on an almost daily basis. It’s a full time job.

That is why some people might want to actually get someone to handle it for them. A whole new breed of public relation specialists are out there for this purpose. A good site to go to, in order to acquaint yourself with this possibility is Sheri Sheri Candler is highly regarded within indie film-making and has been developing an increasingly diverse range of approaches to digital promotion. Besides, she and I are connected on Facebook, and I guess she is a friend though we have never met. But I have lots of friends like that these days.

However, many young indie filmmakers are not going to be in a position where they can hire someone to work with them on promotion. So first, you’ve got to bone up on promoting your project and/or business on social network sites. Again, the web is bursting with posts related to the subject. You might start with something like the Forbes article How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Small Business as a general introduction. Then you will want to get some movie focused tips from Are You Brave Enough to Shun Social Media? by Sheri Candler. Finally, there is the engaging presentation Social Marketing for Movies: A Practical Guide by Dave Olson.

Please note that you can easily spend several months online researching these topics. It involves almost as much work as the actual job of promoting. Since you will find yourself using multiple social network sites, you may also want to find some way of connecting them together in order to save on the work load. At there is a guide to the Top 10 Social Media Management Applications. Previously I had mentioned engagement as part of the process in promoting through social network sites. But actually, you are looking for something more than simply “engagement.” You are attempting to build a process of interactivity (see the Sarah Sluis piece All a Twitter. Applications like HootSuite and allow you to integrate, organize and share information more smoothly across all of these social sites. At the very least, it will save you a few hours a day dealing with all of this stuff.

PR used to be a one-way street. Now, you have to engage, interact, and encourage a “discussion” through the social networks. To be honest, this is the truly hard part of the process. Personally, I am the kind of person who finds interactive processes to be truly horrifying. I am always happier with the one-way lecture mode. So I always have to remind myself that those days are gone. Along with the booze and the free meals. Alas!