Social Media for the Anti-Social Type

Where ever you go, the topic is social media. It is the quick fix for everything from fund raising to film promotion and distribution. It is all things to all people, which is why it is a good thing we have so many self-professed experts online to tell us how to use it. It plays a bit like that scene with Groucho and Chico in A Day at the Races.

So let’s begin by stating that I am not an expert on social media. Never have been, and never will be. To be honest, I have a strong anti-social streak which works against the whole concept. I am even thinking of developing my own social media site based on the principle that people ought to mind their own business. I thought I would call it MySpace/Not Yours.

But for the indie filmmaker, social media is a necessary evil. You have to do it, and do it a lot. You have to develop a social media strategy. You have to reach out and attract people and network and build a community. And you have to act as if you enjoy doing it. For me, that’s the hardest part of all.

Fortunately, there are many sites available regarding various aspects of using social media in indie cinema. There are such individuals as the indie movie marketing and publicity specialist Sheri Chandler, who blogs away on so many social media sites, I’ve lost count. There are various groups such as the Raindance Film Festival and The Film Collaborative, which has numerous articles on issues related to social media and indie cinema. Over at the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship there is an extremely useful piece called Social Media Resources and Inspiration for Independent Filmmakers. Check them all out.

You can easily spend several weeks on Google going through the listings on this subject. Or you can just spend a few hours banging your head with a two-by-four. Sometimes the effect will feel about the same.

Remember, I am really an intensely anti-social personality. I find social media to be a rude intrusion into my private space. Of course, I am also a shameless snoop and I truly enjoy looking at the social media sites of total strangers. I have a suspicion that this contradiction is not as unusual as it may sound. Ironically, the indie filmmaker’s use of social media has to attract weird people like me: total strangers snooping around the internet for movie projects that might sound fun.

As with everything else in life, there is a right way and a wrong way to use social media. I have done a pretty good job of following the wrong way. I have signed up on a wide variety of sites, most of which I have never gone back even to glance at. I have maintained a passing relationship with a few sites.  That means, once a week I pass through them. Most times, I haven’t a clue what is going on. When I look, I usually discover that the company has changed everything in the site’s design and I spend several weeks trying to figure out how to work it. This adds to my hostility to social media.

Obviously, what I am recounting is not the right way you do it. But, I feel that I have learned much from my negative experiences with social media. The same could be said about my experiences in travel and graduate school. I have much to offer in the world of backhanded and belated knowledge.

For example, I have become intensely aware that the first thing an indie filmmaker will want to do is to pick a few social media sites that are most relevant. After all, you have only so much time to devote to dealing with them. You really can only handle a basic range of about three to five sites. For better or for worse, Facebook and Twitter are pretty much obligatory. Some people have a high regard for Pinterest and Google+. I have accounts on both sites. I have never used them. Nothing personal, I just haven’t gotten around to it. And remember, you have to be working all of these sites virtually every day. No wonder I just give up.

You have to focus on your objective with these sites. Are you promoting yourself as a filmmaker and/or scriptwriter? Are you promoting a specific film? Do you want the site to be more personal or professional? You can’t really have it operating every which way. Too confusing. After all, potential investors do not need to know about your Aunt Milly’s meat loaf.

You will need to enforce a strict separation between your personal life and the projects you are promoting. Even though, as I mentioned, you have to be working all of these sites virtually every day. I am afraid that I cannot overemphasize this point. You need to network with other sites that have a shared interest in the subject matter of your film. It is the first step in building a community. You need to engage with people at these sites and you need to do it in a positive manner. Insulting and embarrassing folks on social media  isn’t exactly the way you want to go (unless that is some how productive for your project – though if that’s the case you might want to rethink your project). Let a smile be your umbrella. You have to do it virtually every day.

Every piece of advice on using social media will tell you about the need of building a community. This involves understanding what your film project is about and finding people with shared interests and values who might want to know about your project. This means getting a strong handle on what it is that you are trying to do. Sounds easy, but it isn’t. You are promoting both yourself and your film. A lot of people are lousy at doing this type of self-promotion. To be honest, I stink at it. That’s why I am quite aware of how lousy other people are at it, too.

Which means the real secret to social media is the amount of time and effort you have to devote to the process. Hopefully, you can give up your personal life and get to work barnstorming the digital social scene.

Dennis Toth Copyright © 2013 All Rights Reserved