By Rob Millis Every filmmaker, distributor, press agent and their mother has seen plenty of posts about how important Twitter is, yet filmmakers constantly ask me why and how to use it. So at the risk of beating a dead horse, I’m going to try and convince that silent majority once and for all.
Twitter is one of the most powerful tools for direct communication with your audience. It is easy to use, conversational and can be lots of fun as well. Twitter enables industry leaders and celebrities to easily and safely engage in conversations with thousands of fans, which means you can easily join the dialogue too. Where else can you exchange ideas with editors of national papers, pop celebrities and your favorite filmmakers? In fact the best part of Twitter is that it makes marketing feel like a casual conversation with fans, because that’s exactly what it is.
Contrary to many first impressions, Twitter is not simply a flood of random people sharing what they had for breakfast and whining about their browser crashing, or at least it doesn’t have to be. When you are logged in, you’ll only see the people you follow, so the key is simply to follow people who genuinely interest you and have something useful to share. For instance, if you follow @tedhope you’ll see a steady stream of useful news about independent film (and probably nothing about his breakfast).
Likewise, once you spread the word to your fan base that you are on Twitter, many will begin to follow you, and they’ll expect news and discussion about your work. Many filmmakers I talk to have frozen up before posting their first tweet —What do I say? What if it sounds stupid? Who cares what I think about this? If you set aside your marketing strategies for a moment and think of Twitter as a cocktail party, you’ll find that this is easier than you think.
The best first step may be to simply say hello to one of the people you want to engage with. You can say hello to me for instance: “@robmillis it’s great to find you here on Twitter. I’ll be connecting with fans and sharing news about my work here.” Then simply share reviews of your work, your thoughts on the industry, share links to new work from the actors and directors you admire or have worked with — your audience will appreciate the engagement and your followers will multiply.
The most important part of using Twitter to build an audience is that you are truly building relationships. With that in mind, remember that this is a digital cocktail party, not a sales call, so constant pitching and self-promotion will usually backfire. When you announce your screening or a new critical review, your followers will only be excited to hear about it if they genuinely have an interest in what you do and what you tweet the rest of the time.
To get started all you need to do is register and then search for a few of your favorite bloggers, filmmakers or friends. To help demonstrate how others are using Twitter effectively, I’ve included a few recommended accounts for you to follow below. As you begin to follow and exchange messages with people you know, you’ll quickly get a sense of how to use the bare bones system, and why Twitter has become so popular.
Recommended Twitter accounts: