Deadly Sins of Social For Your Indie Film

seven deadly sins of social publicity crowdfunding indie film(1)

Have YOU been naughty with your film’s social media?

Social media provides us with a whole new world of possibilities; from connecting with our potential audience through to crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.

BUT….when it goes wrong, it tends to go spectacularly wrong.

From celebrities being exposed for offensive tweets they made years ago, to Instagram posts sinking entire careers, social media may be an easy way to achieve your goals but it also needs to be navigated with care and caution when you’re building your personal brand for your filmmaking.

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With this in mind, I bring you the Deadly Sins of Social. You’ll notice that while it takes the form of the Seven Deadly Sins, there’s a few missing. That’s deliberate on my part and not a mistake! Avoid these Sins like the plague, and you’ll be away laughing:

PRIDE: Expecting to Go Viral

seven deadly sins pride

In the course of my career, I’ve been asked “can you make me go viral?”

The answer is, no. Nobody can make you go viral, any more than they can guarantee you’ll have a billion dollars in your account tomorrow morning. Just as a human virus can be unpredictable, virality in the virtual world is very unpredictable. In fact, it’s more difficult to go viral in 2020 than it was in 2007 (I wrote about the state of virality in the 2010s here if you’re interested in reading more).

Every single one of us, regardless of our career aspirations and our goals on social media, need to stop viewing virality as a panacea, and thinking that ‘overnight success’ is going to be the answer. You build your social media following slowly but surely.

There’s something Mark Duplass said to CNBC Make It about building a career on your own terms that I think also applies to building your brand and your audience on social media:

“I would say if you have a dream — and whether that is you want to be some sort of artist or you want to start a start-up or a business, anything that very much feels like it’s uniquely yours and you may not be able to get traction going through traditional channels — the way to do it is to build it brick by brick on your own in microsteps…”

Brick by brick, and you’ll get there. And those bricks include selecting your social media platforms, providing your followers with exciting regular content, and being genuine in your message.

WRATH: Getting Into Arguments on Social Media

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Trolls. They’re everywhere online. The world is literally burning, and social media can be an absolute dumpster fire at times. But when they come for you or your work, the impulse is probably to clap back immediately. DON’T. Trolls are not worth wasting oxygen and keystrokes on, even if you’re dying to throw some major re-tweet-worthy shade. Just don’t. Block and move on.

SLOTH: Not Updating Your Social Media Regularly

seven deadly sins sloth

It’s a common thing: set up social media for your film’s crowdfunding campaign, or when you have a short film coming out, you’ve finished with that particular project, and then….

Zip.

Zilch.

Nada.

You’ve moved onto the next project.

I recommend instead of setting up individual social media profiles for each short film that you set up a profile for ALL of your filmmaking. That way you can continue to grow your audience, bring new fans into the fold, and provide your fans and supporters with regular updates on your filmmaking.

LUST: Using Your Film’s Social Media Accounts Like a Dating Site

seven deadly sins of social media lust

Social media has opened up possibilities for so many people (myself included) when it comes to collaborating with people in the film industry, but in the era of #MeToo I continue to see some rather unflattering and uncomfortable behaviour happening online. If you’re building your film’s audience on social media, it’s not an opportunity to flirt or be inappropriate.

Also, bear in mind that on platforms like Twitter your ‘likes’ are visible to your followers. Remember when the Ted Cruz twitter account ‘liked’ a pornographic image? YIKES. Not a good look.

Social media can be exciting, enjoyable and connect you with wonderful fans and fellow industry professionals, but there are just a few things to be aware of. Don’t forget: a tweet may last a second, but a screenshot lasts a lifetime!

Want some more handy hints and tips to help with your film’s social? Check out our FREE resources.

 

What Did the 2010s Bring Indie Filmmakers?

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Happy New Year to you…and Happy New Decade! I decided to leave this post until after New Year’s so it didn’t get lost in the sea of lists that tend to come out at the end of each decade.

For me, the 2010s hold a particularly important place in my heart, because not only was it the decade I began my career in the film industry, it was also the decade I launched Film Sprites PR. Throughout the 2010s I kept a close eye on what was happening in the film industry, and how things were changing. The indie filmmaking landscape I was welcomed into in the 2010s is a genuinely remarkable one: there have been technologies and changes that have paved the way for filmmakers to create on their own terms, often cutting out ‘the middle man’. What a decade to work in indie film!

Check out some of the changes in our society (and the industry) which changed the way filmmakers can fund, create, promote and distribute their films:

Crowdfunding Changes the Film Funding Landscape

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Before I founded Sprites, I started my career by helping to publicize crowdfunding campaigns for films. Over the years, I have continued to do so, as well as working at Boosted, the crowdfunding platform of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand. Who knew that this wonderful world of funding opportunity would exist in the 2010s? Crowdfunding has given filmmakers the opportunity to secure funding in a timely fashion, while also helping to build an audience for their films. While there are various other funding opportunities for filmmakers available, crowdfunding has been a successful way for filmmakers to secure their finance, whether in pre-production, post-production, or to pay for things like trips to festivals or post-production colour grading and/or ADR. Well-known successfully crowdfunded films include Lazer Team by Rooster Teeth, The Veronica Mars Movie Project, and Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here.

Crowdsourcing of Cinema Screenings Becomes a Reality

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Similar to crowdfunding, crowdsourcing became a great option for filmmakers when it came to various aspects of filmmaking. One particular crowdsourcing option that materialized in the 2010s was the crowdsourcing of cinema screenings of films.

Platforms like Tugg meant filmmakers could screen their films at selected cinemas provided the required amount of tickets were sold. This is a great way for filmmakers to provide the big screen experience. It’s a system which has proven particularly successful for niche films; like films with environmental themes. Demand.Film also provides a selection of films which can be screened, including films from Australia and New Zealand and films with niche audiences. This is particularly beneficial for community groups or interest groups who want to bring a film to the big screen.

Social Media Gets Serious

social media for filmmakers

Social media started to sprout in the late 2000s. Remember Tom from MySpace? In the 2010s social media platforms exploded onto the scene, giving us many ways to share our daily happenings and memes. And as social media began to grow, so too did the opportunities for filmmakers to share their message and grow an audience for their films or webseries. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been joined by the likes of TikTok and Snapchat to provide many options for spreading your message. Before the advent of social media, radio, print and television were primarily the ways of gaining awareness for your filmmaking and growing your audience. Now you can connect with your audience (and potential audience) right through their smartphone.

Streaming Services Rule Screens

streaming services

Hop onto your Facebook feed and I can guarantee you’ll see at least one of your friends talking about something they watched via a streaming service. Netflix, which was founded in 1997, expanded into offering streaming services, as did other platforms like Prime Video. The new world of streaming offers filmmakers another route for distribution of their films. Filmmakers can also offer downloads or streaming of their films via their own website. Gone are the days when hopes hung on a cinematic release; now indie filmmakers can reach audiences in their own homes and open them to a world of new ideas and concepts far beyond the traditional Hollywood blockbuster.

What will the 2020s offer? Only time can tell…

 

A Creative’s Guide to Ditching FOMO and Comparison on Social Media

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Our world has changed significantly since the advent of social media. In fact, I once said on a podcast that Film Sprites PR wouldn’t have been possible without things like social media and the ability to work with anyone in the world from my home office. It connects us to like minded individuals, broadens our perspectives, and allows us to grow an audience for our work as creatives, whatever those creative endeavours might be.

But on World Mental Health Day for 2019 I wanted to talk about the downsides of social…because they most certainly DO exist. As you scroll through your Instagram feed featuring your colleagues and friends, it can be very easy to experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), comparing yourself to what you see on your screen. It can be so easy to have a Pavlovian response to an alert on your phone and get gratification from likes, re-tweets, or comments, and feel your heart sink when there’s no responses or feedback. In my working life, it’s common for me to look at social media analytics and apply rationality to the statistics I’m seeing, but when it comes to my personal social media? I’ve been terrible with regards to FOMO and comparison. I’m going to not only share with you my personal experience, I’m going to give you the steps I used to help shake the FOMO and ditch comparison. It’s definitely an on-going project- you have to repeat the steps daily to stop yourself from slipping back into comparison mode, but it’s worth it.

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Sharing My Story

Earlier this year I had the great privilege of being the Wellington Communications Assistant for this year’s New Zealand International Film Festival. I had a wonderful time, working with some incredible people and being immersed in the world of fantastic cinema. But once the Festival had wrapped up and I had gone back home (I had moved to Wellington temporarily to take up the position), I came home…and hit a low. A very hard low.  In the midst of this low, I found myself scrolling through my social media feeds with FOMO growing steadily. Why wasn’t I at a certain point in my career? Why do I feel SO sucky, despite what I’ve managed to achieve this year? It started to get ridiculous, and I started to feel even worse. I also felt unsupported in my endeavours, like no-one was acknowledging the work I had put in over all of these years and that it meant nothing.

I knew I had to do some radical things to change the situation. I had to do things to address the FOMO and comparison. Below are the methods I’ve used to combat FOMO and comparison when using social media.

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Take a break: it can be difficult to step away from social media temporarily (especially if you have to use it for work purposes), but a break can do you wonders. I recently took a social media sabbatical after coming back from Wellington and I was amazed at how much it helped my perspective on things. As I use my phone to listen to podcasts (and I’m obsessed with podcasts), in order to make my sabbatical completely effective I deleted all of my social media apps off my phone temporarily. My phone was for texting, listening to music on Spotify, or listening to podcasts.

According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology (and cited in this article), participants of a study who limited their social media use to 30 minutes a day for three weeks reported reduced depression, loneliness and less FOMO (I love that FOMO is being studied academically!). As the author of the study, Melissa G. Hunt said, “When you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram, it’s easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours.”

Can’t take a complete temporary break from social? Stick to a reduced time for social media use for a week.

Everyone’s journey is different: it can be so difficult not to compare your career progress or goals when you see glowing photos on Instagram. But the bottom line is this: everyone’s journey is different. For instance, if you’re a filmmaker and seeing your fellow filmmaking colleagues and acquaintances winning awards or attending events you’d chew your arm off to be at, don’t forget that they may be at a different career point to you. You might be at year five of your journey, and they’re at year ten. Their goals might also be wildly different from yours, so your path will take you to other destinations that you can’t even imagine right now.

For instance, my journey has been an exceptionally unconventional one. Having an entrepreneurial brain meant I didn’t want to wait for an opportunity to come along, so I created the opportunity myself (and hence Film Sprites PR was born). But it’s been a difficult road at times. Anyone who is a freelancer knows how tough things can be, so it was never going to be a fully conventional road. Add in the fact that I was doing film publicity and social media marketing instead of doing publicity and social media marketing for other things, the nature of the market, etc…yeah…it was never going to be smooth sailing. And you know what? That’s okay. I love what I do. I’m passionate about the services I provide. I’ve come a long way and although I haven’t achieved all of my goals yet, I’m aware that it takes time (and I took a weird road instead of the conventional road!).

friends with fairy lights

Catch up with people that don’t live on your screen: social media makes it so easy for us to quickly send a message to friends or family instead of meeting face to face, but sometimes catching up with the people you love offline can be exactly what you need. Schedule a coffee date with a friend, pop over to your mum’s place or schedule a short road trip with your besties. If you think you could do with a hug…ask for one! There’s some serious health benefits to hugging. I can testify to that: I have a friend who is quite possibly the reigning champion of hugs, and even though I used to be resistant to hugging I know how beneficial they can be.

People are icebergs- we only see a fraction of their lives: it’s really important to bear in mind that social media is very much a curated version of our realities; a version that tends to lean towards the positives and not the negatives. We’re basically seeing (and sharing) a ‘highlight reel’. You have no idea what’s been left on the cutting room floor at any given time.

Mindfulness helps: we spend so much of our day automatically responding to stimuli, and that includes our thoughts. Mindfulness and meditation can be a huge help when it comes to those thoughts of FOMO and comparison. There’s lots of resources out there to help, including mindfulness and meditation apps. I fell out of my regular meditation practice when I was working in Wellington (I used to meditate twice a day), but I’ve picked it up again and it really has helped. You may also find Byron Katie’s The Work really beneficial, as it forces you to examine your thoughts.

Write out a ‘have done list’: sometimes we spend so much time looking at the achievements of others that we forget just how much we have achieved ourselves. It’s common to make ‘to do lists’…but what about a ‘have done list’? You can choose to examine all of the things you’ve achieved this year, or look at what you’ve achieved in your creative career- it’s entirely up to you.

For example, I looked at what I had achieved this year: I had written articles for The Big Idea, appeared on Radio New Zealand as a result of that, assisted with the social media marketing for a film which won two awards at SXSW 2019, ran a Social Media Marketing for Filmmakers workshop, worked as Wellington Communications Assistant for the NZ International Film Festival 2019, and most recently a film that Sprites had assisted with crowdfunding in post-production had its debut at the BFI London Film Festival 2019. It’s been a busier year than I gave myself credit for. Once you jot your achievements down, you’ll see the same is true for you.

Replace social media time with more beneficial habits: if you’re doing a social media sabbatical or limiting your social media usage, it gives you time for other things. Been putting off a new exercise regime? The time is now. Get your taxes done, declutter a room, get a health check, or do some goal stalking.

While social media is so beneficial when it comes to assisting with creative careers like filmmaking, music and theatre, it’s important to maintain a balance.

 

Bewitching Ways to Connect With Your Audience Via Social Media

Bewitching Ways to Connect With Your Audience Via Social Media

Recently on Sprites’ social media we’ve been revisiting the most annoying things you can do when using social media for your film, but with a decidedly fun and spooky twist. After looking at some scary social media habits to avoid (and given that we’re heading towards Halloween), it’s a good time to look at some great ways to connect with your audience via social media. Here’s some ways to bewitch your fans instead of having them running for the hills- no potions or incantations needed!

student making potion

Let your fans in on the process: people absolutely love looking behind the scenes of film productions, so embrace that on social media. Whether you share stills on-set, quirky boomerang videos on your Instagram or Facebook stories, or do quick live videos on location, your fans will appreciate it. Plus, it serves as a poignant record of the process, which is something you can always revisit on social media at a later date for a Throwback Thursday (#TBT) post.

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Start a conversation: there’s so many ways to engage with your social media audience, and starting a genuine conversation about a topic is one of them. It can be as simple as discussing a director and asking your fans to chime in on their favourite film from that director, having a poll via your Instagram or Facebook story, or, if you have a webseries, getting people to guess what they think might happen in the next episode.

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Go live: this ties in with letting your fans in on the filmmaking process. Think about live streaming a Q&A session, getting someone on your team to live stream your red carpet premiere (and interview some of your cast and crew), or provide quick production updates.

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Share fan content, rave reviews and great posts: how many times do you hear from people “oh my gosh, [famous person] re-tweeted me/shared my post”? Make sure you share fan art that’s been shared with you, glowing reviews and great feedback. Even just sharing a heartfelt YouTube comment from a fan can not only make their day, but shows your audience that you genuinely care about their love of your work.

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Let your creativity lead the way: social media isn’t just about posting content. It’s about creating a story and starting a dialogue. And doing that doesn’t have to be dry and boring. In fact, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the ways you can engage with your fans via social media. In pre-production but want to give people an idea of the mood and vibe of your film? Think about creating a mood board on Pinterest, or sharing a collaged mood board via Facebook and Instagram. Listen to certain music while you’re working? Share a Spotify playlist of those songs. People genuinely appreciate creative touches that help with the anticipation of your film or webseries.

So don’t just use social media…make magic happen with it!

Want someone to help you with your social media magic? Check out our services HERE.

 

Wellington Film Folks: You Won’t Want to Miss This!

WELLINGTON

Over the years at Film Sprites PR I’ve had many people wanting to ‘pick my brains’ when it comes to social media for filmmaking. If you’re in Wellington, New Zealand on May 25th, here is your chance to do so!

Thanks to the Emerging Women Filmmakers Network, I’m bringing you Social Media Success: How to Make the Most of Social Media for your Film or Webseries. In this 1 hour presentation, I’ll be filling you in on the current research into where audiences in Aotearoa are finding out about films, as well as a solid formula for social media success that will connect you to your audience and bring new fans to your work. There will also be a Q&A where you can ask all your burning social media marketing questions!

In addition, there will be drinks and nibbles and an opportunity to network with other members of the filmmaking community, so don’t miss out on what I hope will be a really exciting and fun afternoon.

For further details and to book tickets, visit the Eventbrite page. Know someone who might be interested in attending? I’d love it if you would share this post with them.

What to do When Social Media Outages Affect Your Film’s Marketing Plans

facebook outage

If you use Facebook and connected social media like Instagram, you have probably been affected by the recent outage. Outages often mean that social media marketing plans are revised as a result. Any automated posts you had planned become redundant…or worse yet, you have to re-post and/or re-plan once the outage is over! It’s proof that while we can have social media marketing as part of an overall publicity plan, social media (like traditional media) is not infallible.

The recent outage provided a shared moment that was relatable to anyone who uses Facebook and Instagram. So here’s an idea you can use today: you might want to find some clever way to integrate it into your social media posts. The more something is relatable and resonates with an audience, the more engagement it will receive and the more likely your post will be shared. Remember when Kim Kardashian broke the Internet? Think about how YOU ‘broke the Internet’ today and run with it. In Sprites’ case, the outages happened after ALICE, the film we’ve been providing social media marketing for, won the Narrative Feature Award and CherryPicks First Female Feature Award at SXSW. ALICE broke the Internet!

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But what happens if you’re running a crowdfunding campaign when an outage happens on social? I’ve had this happen several times in the 7 years I’ve been assisting with crowdfunding campaigns, and while it’s not ideal you can work around it to make sure that you can still make the most of it. You may want to expand on the previous idea and use it as a call to action with your mailing list. If one platform is unavailable, channel your social media marketing efforts into the platforms you still have available to you at the time. Time really is money with a crowdfunding campaign!

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If you have a release that is affected by the outage, the above suggestions definitely apply- when you don’t have access to certain social media platforms during an outage, concentrate on the social media platforms where your film has a presence that are still available to you. You can always repurpose any content you had planned during an outage at a later date while still keeping the remainder of the social media marketing plan active and current.

Most importantly, if you have the time available to you…get away from the screen! This morning before I started my hours at Boosted, I could see how the outages were affecting my workflow when it came to social media marketing for Sprites clients…so I walked away. I went outside with a cup of coffee and watched the world go by so that when I returned to the computer I would be fresh as a daisy and raring to go.

Outages are awful, but unavoidable. It’s a reminder that no system is perfect!

I Felt Like An Idiot On The Internet…Here’s What Put It Into Perspective

I Felt Like An Idiot On The Internet

As a publicist and digital marketer, I spend a significant amount of time on the Internet. Whether it’s sending off a press release to a media outlet, pitching a potential story, generating social media content or crunching social media numbers, I’m either hooked to my laptop, tablet, or phone. And while that comes with the territory, because digital technology is so ubiquitous in everyday life, I found myself in a bit of a predicament.

The lines between work and life began to blur. I found myself looking at the number of ‘likes’ on my personal Facebook page, the follows on my personal Instagram…and feeling dejected. Why weren’t people engaging? Why did the feeds of people I knew look SO damn interesting compared to mine? WHY was I feeling like such a d*ck on social media?

Talk about a First World problem!

My self-indulgent moping was cut short by a wake-up call yesterday. During my morning shower, I discovered a lump in my breast. Upon finding the lump, I felt a sense of dread that I’ve only ever felt once before. My stomach felt like it had dropped through the floor. We lost my sister in law to breast cancer in 2013, so immediately my mind is jumping to the worst conclusion.

I booked an appointment to see my doctor that afternoon and after a thorough inspection he said that he had no reason whatsoever to believe that there was anything sinister about the lump. I was exceptionally relieved.

Here’s the thing: that one little scare put everything else into perspective. No ‘likes’ are going to help you if you have an illness. No amount of follows on Twitter or Instagram would take something like breast cancer away. Perspective is a very valuable thing.

I’m great at what I do when it comes to social media for work. But when it comes to my personal life, a lot of it is not share-worthy…and that’s OK. You won’t see me dolled up to go out right now, but that’s because there’s a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes every single day. It doesn’t make me more or less worthy than anyone else.

So yes, while engagement levels, shares and other data are important on the business side of what I do, it shouldn’t make a lick of difference on my personal side. I think we sometimes forget (I know I’m guilty of it!) that what we see on social media is what people choose to share with us. It’s carefully curated, even if we’re not intending it to be that way. And how many ‘friends’ do we have on social media that we catch up with in ‘real life’? If a picture I share of my pizza on Instagram gets more ‘likes’ than a picture I took of a beautiful sunset on my DSLR…does it really matter? Am I enjoying sharing content? Yes.

You know, it’s okay to feel like an idiot on the Internet. I think we’ve all had those moments…just don’t stay there. And while I have your attention, check out Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s breast changes to watch out for. Knowledge is power!