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10 Tips for Indie Filmmakers New to Twitter

By Indiewire | Indiewire December 16, 2013 at 11:40AM

In a post from CraftTruck, we highlight 10 tips for indie filmmakers who want to engage audiences on Twitter.
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We've recently discovered Craft Truck, a wonderful resource for behind-the-scenes information about filmmaking. They've given us permission to republish this (slightly edited) post about how filmmakers can use Twitter to help build an audience, and, more importantly a community. It's a great primer for filmmakers who are just starting to experiment with Twitter. Read their tips below and visit Craft Truck:

1. Pinpoint Your Goal.

Before jumping onto Twitter specifically for the benefit of promoting your next film (or film company), understand what your goals are. Are you there to promote your upcoming film? Are you there for other social reasons? Be specific about what your goals are.

The answer --  to promote your own film -- may seem obvious, but it's not the right answer. Because if that's your main goal, odds are that people won’t want to connect with you. It might be better to think of your goals in terms of values, ideas, content around certain subjects. If the goal is, I want create content around autism because I've got an indie drama about that subject, then create a place for people to connect around that subject. Your goals need to tie into your content strategy, the elements that you will be creating and your unique value add. All described in more detail below.

Start with asking yourself this question. And then read the rest of this post with that in mind.

2. Develop a Content Strategy.

What are you planning to share on Twitter? Will you be talking about what you had for breakfast? Or perhaps the latest news? Your "brand" -- be it yourself as a filmmaker or the film you are specifically trying to promote, is an amalgamation of everything you post online. One tweet here or there, out of context, does not a brand make. It's about the totality of what you share. That's how people will think about your brand. So take the time to figure out what your content strategy will be. If you're are planning on sharing film related news, how will you be different than other news aggregators? You probably can't compete in that arena; but, maybe you can give things your own unique spin.

If your film is about a specific subject matter or topic, galvanize your audience around that subject and create a content strategy that speaks to that issue, or theme.

3. Be Creative.

Twitter is a place where boring goes to die. There is too much coming too fast. Part of your content strategy has to incorporate ways to grab peoples attention. This may go without saying...but it's worth taking the time and energy to come up with great content. Great, original, funny, insightful content gets shared, re-tweeted and favorited.

4. Be Analytical.

Do you track your analytics? If you aren't tracking analytics, how will you know how you are doing? If you are posting into the wind, without tracking, then you will have no way to know if you are connecting with your audience. Use analytics to see what your audience responds to and learn from that.

5. Remember Twitter is Not a Distribution Platform.

Most people use Twitter as a distribution platform instead of using it to create native content. If you only use it in order to share your own content or promote your own work, then you likely won’t see results. Twitter is a content platform. It’s not a distribution platform. So, if you are constantly saying the equivalent of "buy me," then your followers will soon unfollow you. However, if you consistently deliver content that is valuable and interesting to your audience, THEN, when it comes time to ask for the "buy," your audience will follow along. But you have to build your brand, your audience, and its trust.

Take the time to create content that is exciting, engaging, and most importantly native to the platform. (It's worth repeating that!)

6. Notice That Twitter Can Impact Your Casting.

This one comes via John Suits at New Artists Alliance in a recent podcast that we did.

When we're casting actors, we look and see how many Twitter followers they have. That's one component of many that we use in measuring and establishing the value of an actor.

- John Suits

The take away here isn’t necessarily that Twitter is the definitive guide on the value of an actor, but that we now need to have a 360 approach to casting. As we've come to learn in our Business of Film podcast, casting is largely subjective. Value to one person, or sales company, does not necessarily translate to another.

As a producer or filmmaker, there is a certain subjectivity in the process that you have to wade through. Social metrics can help you make that determination. As John says, if an actor has 1 million followers, in today's market, that means something. Take that into consideration.

7. Understand the Impact of Twitter During Festivals

Again, from our friend John Suits, here's what he had to say about Twitter and festivals:

Everybody at the festivals are listening to the Twitter feed to decide whether to see a movie, or not, or whether a movie is a hit. So, right after your movie is done, you immediately know what the response was. And depending on what those people say, it largely decides the life (or death) of your film at the festival. Even Sales Agents, I imagine, are looking at Twitter to see how the audience responded and if they wanted to buy the movie.

- John Suits

This isn't something that is necessarily actionable IF you haven’t done anything about it before the festival. But, if you've planted a lot of Twitter seeds for the year before your film comes out and create an audience that wants to engage and see your film where you anticipate the film to be premiering in, you may be able actually create an atmosphere that works for you. Takes work. See #9.

8. Be Consistent.

This is a biggie. Audiences will disappear fast if you aren't participating on Twitter regularly. You have to have a consistent strategy. This may not mean daily… but, it kinda does. There's just too much going on and it's too easy for audiences to lose interest. If you want people to pay attention, you have to be in front of them all the time.

Remember, you have to be creating consistent, creative and engaging content that is native to the platform.

9. Find Tastemakers and Engage Them.

This is about geography in specific regions. You want to find the tastemakers in the geographies that will impact your film. If you are out there -- in the Twitterverse -- tweeting away and you audience is in another country, that may not be all that helpful.

You have to find the tastemakers in your area and engage with them. Directly. This will take work. This will take time. These are the people that will help you spread the work in the local regions where you hope your film will be playing. Start a conversation. Respond to their posts. Twitter isn't a one-way street.

If you do that, then you'll be creating a geographic specific audience that can help you. Obviously, this is only a small part of your overall strategy, but it's an important part. Because at the end of the day, you likely aren't doing this "just for fun." Or maybe you are, and that's great. But assuming you are an indie filmmaker that wants people to see their work, then this is the hard work of social media. Do the hard work. Reap the benefits.

10. Deliver Value.

This is quite simple the most important thing you can do on Twitter. There is so much stuff on Twitter vying for attention that you need to find a way to deliver value. What is unique about what you have to say? Why should people want to click on your links and listen to you (follow you)?

If you are simply repurposing other peoples content all the time, then what’s the point? Your audience can get that somewhere else. UNLESS, that's part of your strategy. Maybe you have decided to curate a specific kind of content that's unique the audience of your specific film. But even if you curate, you can do so with commentary. Add value. And listen to your analytics. Your analytics will tell you, immediately, if your audience finds what you have to say valuable to them.

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This article is related to: Twitter, Craft Truck, Social Media , Filmmaker Toolkit: Technology







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