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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The 11th Hour Question: Is Your Fan Following Your True Audience Group?


It's going to be a cloudy day for you if you come to realize that your core online fan group is solely comprised of grandma and cousin Kenneth from Wichita, Kansas.

I always cringe when I see independent filmmakers create a Facebook fan page, Twitter page or even a Myspace FILM page and then...they just walk away from it. It's as if they're convinced that simply publishing these pages will attract fans/followers/potential viewers outside of their close friends and family. But this isn't a FREE CINEMA NOW entry that is going to beat you over the head on how you absolutely must be rigorous in your quest to build your online brand (even though I'm pretty sure every post that I've written pulsates with that message in some way).

Rather, let this entry be a potent reminder that audience management/cultivation through social media is still very real and very VALUABLE. If social media wasn't valuable, why would VOD cable marketers develop an app for users to "Like" the movies they're watching on various platforms? Or why would Cornell University perform an extensive study on the cross-cultural behavioral mood swings on Twitter?


For every indie filmmaker/content creator, social media should be viewed as more than a supplemental stroke for outreach. It should be viewed as a vital filmmaking instrument. In the spirit of the new storytelling 2.0 model--where audience interaction is very much part of the filmmaker's creative process--I wanted to reiterate some key points of execution when it comes to fan building for your next project.  These points--charmingly referred to as the "A-path"--find their origins in the informative SocialSteve's Blog:

"The “A-path” is about moving potential customers from interest to promoter step by step: 

1) Get their ATTENTION
2) ATTRACT them
3) Gain AFFINITY for you
4) Have regular engagements with you and keep them as your AUDIENCE
5) Get them to be your ADVOCATES – the greatest level to reach.


[...]

1) Validate – make sure that you are using keywords in “Headline” tweets and/or hashtags that are commonly used by your potential audience. Do not assume what you call your trinket or service is the same thing the potential audience would use to find you and your competition.
2) Respond – search for retweets of your tweets, replies to your tweets and mentions of your username. Make sure to follow up with either a thank you or appropriate response. 
3) Personalize – I emphasized the importance of one-to-one relationships to strengthen advocates. Therefore, do not correspond one-to-one in a generic fashion. Try to make communication specific to the individual to yield a stronger relationship."

I know that for some indie filmmakers--particularly those attached to the old film school mentality of "Hey man, I'm just a director..."--this commitment to active online-audience-relationship-building will seem worse than washing that pile of dishes in the sink. But for those of you willing to go along with it, you'll soon appreciate the difference between having a small group of people who "follow" you and having a core group of fans who will turn into viewers and (hopefully) ardent fans of you AND your work.

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