Thursday, May 23, 2013
As you may have heard, last Sunday’s episode of “Mad Men” was stark raving mad.
It relentlessly pounded the audience with a stream of bizarre events, wacky visuals, weirdly hysterical episodes, story revelations, surprises, and highly quotable lines. Whenever you thought it couldn’t get any weirder, it just kept going, like a relentless Energizer Rabbit drumming into your synapses.
It was almost great to have commercials, because it gave you time to try to process what the hell was going on. And many of the commercials featured actors from the show! If there’s anybody who didn’t watch Christina Hendricks in the Johnnie Walker ad, then they must be dead. And if they’re dead, that commercial ought to wake them up. If they still feel lethargic, how about a gif of a frenzied Ken Cosgrove tap-dancing like Tommy Tune on a sizzling skillet that turned up on Twitter shortly after his last step?
As is to be expected, the show made the Twitterverse explode. Hundreds of jokes and wild commentary flooded my iPhone as people tried to keep up with the madness. Of course our eyeballs were magnetized by the freaky stuff that was happening on the show, but we held our phones in front of us like we were making a toast so we could keep an eye on both. Who needs Google Glass?
It was one of those experiences that could only unfold in real time, like the premiere of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the New York Film Festival screening of “Pulp Fiction” (when somebody had a seizure during the adrenaline scene), and the first midnight show of “The Human Centipede 2” at the Waverly. Those were all amazing communal events, and can never be repeated,
Every episode of “Mad Men” from now on could be boring as hell, but we will never DVR it, and I am sure that any serious Twitter-using “Mad Men” fan is going to be watching live, with their sweaty palm holding their phone or pad or any device within reach.
Maybe this is the solution to getting people to watch ads on TV instead of fast-forwarding through them. Maybe you don’t have to insert the ads into the programming idiotically, like having the “American Idol” judges sip from Coke glasses. Maybe the way to get people to watch commercials in the age of the DVR is to be very, very creative with the show, and put the cast in the ads.
It’s interesting that this would happen on a show that’s about advertising.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I have a Movie Actor Quotes Pinterest Board with 86 graphics and a Film Director Quotes Board with 66 graphics. The Movie Actor Quotes Board is #1 out of 40,700,000 other results on Google Search and the Film Director Board is #3 out of 73,900,000. I am ranked over the sites where I find my quotes, an irony I doubt they appreciate.
These graphics were all created to drive engagement on my Facebook page, but I figured I might as well take a a few minutes to put them up on Pinterest and some other social media sites. I made each Pinterest graphic link to my Facebook page, as that’s my home base.
Pinterest marketing works by using content to attract people to your page, where they are exposed to other things you do, like links to products you sell or to your blog posts. I always assumed that this process was limited to the closed world of Pinterest, and had no idea about the massive amount of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) it can provide.
The reason this happened seems obvious. All the content on my two pages is original to me, as high a quality as I can make it, and, most important, similar. If you like one movie actor quote, you might like others. It’s not unusual for people to click five or ten times when they arrive at one of those boards. That adds up to a lot of clicking. As I add a new graphic almost every day, in a year I’ll have 500 of them. I’ve been able to have the success I’ve had with less than a hundred followers, but I’m patient and expect to have thousands someday.
Now that I’ve been introduced to the power of Pinterest with SEO, I’m not going to be satisfied with merely bringing people to my page. My next goal is to create boards that sell exactly what I’m about: coaching filmmakers and artists on using social media to promote their work. If I’m successful, the names of those boards will come up near the top of searches when people are looking for what I have to offer.
Facebook will always be my foundation, but like Vegas, everything that happens in Facebook stays in Facebook. While some Twitter posts become huge events, the large majority of tweets roll off the screen in seconds. On the other hand, many posts on blogs, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and tumblr, among others, can find a lasting place in the online firmament.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
I’ve been seeing the ad below for Nomorerack.com very often in my News Feed on Facebook. It looks like an amazing deal.
42,415 likes! 7,508 comments! 12,488 shares! Wow! Social Media in action.
I almost ordered the charger, but it set off alarm bells. I’d priced this thing out and it was much more than $14. I decided to Google nomorerack.com. And this is what I found:
Then I looked it up in Yahoo Answers….
What has always been great about shopping on Facebook is that products come recommended by our Facebook friends. “So and so likes this” it would say in our little rectangle at the right side of the page. After a while it started turning up in our news feed too, but always connected to somebody we knew or at least a friend of a friend.
But with the new Facebook rules for advertising, with so many new and untested ad products, it seems like anything goes. Even if certain kinds of ads require friends-of-friends, that doesn’t provide any safety. The explosion of phony Facebook profiles has happened at the same time as Facebook’s recent money-making experimentation. It’s child’s play for technology-savvy criminals to make tens of thousands of fake profiles.
Of course, internet scams have been with us since there’s been an internet, and most of us have learned to be careful. One of the wonderful things about Facebook is that we didn’t need to be on our guard. If we saw a dozen likes for a product–let alone tens of thousands like we see for Nomorerack above—we assumed a product had been checked out. But for all we know, those likes could have come from tens of thousands of bots. And what makes social media so tantalizing for crooks is that after there are enough likes there, some real people will “like” the idea of something being sold so cheaply. And actually, you don’t even need tens of thousands of bots. A hundred might be enough to go viral with something as appealing as this.
Is NoMoreRack a scam? I don’t know. But I was ready to click their promoted post on Facebook and buy the charger. There is absolutely no way I would do that now.
As this kind of advertising in the news feed is very new, it opens the door for scammers to prey off the false sense of security we have built up from social shopping. It’s not just that the new ads on Facebook are annoying and detract from the experience—they could bilk a lot of people out of their hard-earned cash. Whether this has happened yet is not the issue: in its rush to implement new ad strategies, Facebook isn’t putting in proper safeguards, and that concerns me.
One of the reasons social sites like Friendster and Myspace became dinosaurs is that they didn’t keep an eye on the competition. In their case I mean that they didn’t look out for what Facebook was doing. What’s one of the hottest things in social media today? A ton of extremely popular shopping sites that have emerged in the wake of Etsy, often with their own smartphone apps: Fancy, The Hunt, Svpply, amd Fab, to name a few. As a Facebook stockholder I find it discouraging that Facebook is flying in the opposite direction from such a rising trend in contemporary social media.
Not to mention I might have lost fourteen bucks.
Monday, April 08, 2013
As recently as last summer I thought that a filmmaker could do a good job with social media only using Facebook.
I’m not saying that anymore.
Back then, the crux of my argument came from my supposition that most independent filmmakers’ time was very limited. If they had time to do Twitter, Instagram , Tumblr, etc., that would be great, but I knew what was involved in making a film and I knew that a lot of people were doing DIY distribution. Facebook was bigger than all other social networks combined. Facebook offered unique advantages like cheap advertising. Facebook took very little time compared to the others.
So I told filmmakers and other artists: “Learn how to use Facebook!”
That was then.
Post-IPO, and particularly since September, Facebook has been monkeying around with the Edgerank computer algorithm that controls everything on the network. Nearly everyone has reported that less of their posts are getting seen and they need to pay for “promoted posts” to get them seen. If you have a Facebook page for your film, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, check out this New York Times article by Nick Bilton to see what I’m talking about. Facebook denies that they have changed their algorithm so everybody has to pay for what they used to get for free, but they don’t deny that they are changing Edgerank.
Facebook has also been ramping up the use of advertising on the site. Ads in the news feed, not just in those teeny little boxes on the side. Stuff that looks suspiciously like spam. Ads on Instagram (coming soon!) Ads, ads, ads. What does it mean for our independent films when people’s timelines are buried in all these ads? It’s not good for people like us who want our posts to be noticed, to have people increasingly annoyed by what they are seeing in their timelines
For the first time Facebook is letting advertisers target you for ads with information about you they’ve found off of Facebook. As media analyst Richard Greenfield wrote:
That’s just what Yahoo does. That’s just what AOL does. What makes Facebook special was supposed to be the data on social. Instead, they’re reverting back to what all of the other websites do … It just makes Facebook a lot less special.
If all this wasn’t bad enough, Facebook is becoming overrun with phony profiles. So when you pay for ads, you may be getting hundreds of “people” who don’t exist. Why? As per this post on Facebook Login:
On underground forums in Russia, a page with 100,000 likes sells for about $150,000 to $200,000. Once a byte bandit buys a page, he can rebrand it. They can make the page look as if it’s affiliated with a well-known brand. We saw one page being used to market fake Nike sportswear.
With that kind of money being made, how can Facebook ever stop this spam? So what if they delete a million profiles? The bandits will just put more up. What’s the harm in having more fans for your page? For one thing, the Facebook computer algorithm will decide that your page is unpopular and punish you for that. It’s a computer. It doesn’t figure in that the reason people aren’t responding to what you’re doing is becausethey aren’t real. And to add insult to injury, Facebook will make you pay to reach the people who aren’t real.
To sum up: it’s a very big deal for your Facebook marketing when you spend years building up a following of thousands or tens of thousands and then have to pay hundreds of dollars to reach them; it’s bad news for us as marketers--and users--to have too many ads on Facebook pages; and it truly sucks that the whole foundation of having fans on our pages is contaminated by spam.
Should we give up on Facebook for marketing movies? Absolutely not. It is still the biggest social media site and the most used. Facebook will continue to be extremely effective for tons of people. But I will no longer advise people that they can get by with Facebook alone. You need to develop a social media strategy that keeps Facebook as a home base but you must also reach out to other platforms.
Personally, I continue to create content every day for Facebook. But now my Facebook-formatted images are also on Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram and my website. I’ve even started up a Tumblr blog, which is getting a little traction. My graphics are beginning to turn up in Google and Bing searches. And nearly every one of them links back to my Facebook page.
But more significantly, I don’t worry as much about Edgerank as I used to. The Facebook computer algorithm judges you by how many likes, comments and shares you get. It’s a computer; it can’t understand anything else. This makes all Facebook strategy about how to get that kind of activity as we try to feed the computer what it wants. This results in a lot of dumb content, inane questions, true or false, fill in the blanks, etc. And it’s not even working the same way anymore because Edgerank is changing so much. When I use Facebook for myself, I appreciate lots of stuff that I don’t necessarily like, comment on, or share. I just quietly enjoy it. I know that a lot of people do that with the content I put up and that’s good enough for me. I’m just not counting on Facebook and Edgerank to put those images in front of people and lead them to my Facebook page.
That’s the way I’m thinking Beyond Facebook. I think you should too.
Note: I’m currently looking for another name for this page and “Facebook for Filmmakers.”
Friday, April 05, 2013
When a beloved person dies, I find that at memorial services and in posts in social media, people tend to talk about themselves. This makes sense, because if you knew somebody then other people who never did might learn something or be touched by your reminiscences. But I think there is a point where it becomes more about you than the person you’re remembering. Sometimes I think people are trying to elevate themselves by showing that they knew the great man. I worry about that so yesterday I just posted on Facebook that Roger Ebert had helped a lot of people rather than get into how he helped me. But today Eugene Hernandez posted the quote above on Facebook and I made this graphic. I wish his face came out better but it is a long and beautiful quote.
While doing that it made me think that I did have a little something I wanted to share because it wasn't just about me but also showing the way he helped all kinds of people, not just filmmakers.
Roger and I got to know each other when I was a film publicist. Over the years I was lucky enough to talk to him on the phone regularly and even shared a meal with him once at Sundance (with one of my clients). Everybody knows that he championed countless filmmakers, but here’s what he did for me. I used to write a blog and Roger read it every single week. He often tweeted or posted links. I’d get these two word emails from him, like “Tweeted it!” I don’t know if I can express how much this meant to me. His support made me think that I wasn’t just some dumb movie publicist trying to write a blog, but that he thought I could actually write. And this made me believe that I was maybe a real writer. I am sure this is how all the thousands of filmmakers and critics and other people that he so generously championed felt. We all hunger for this kind of approval and we so rarely get it. It keeps us going. I am crying as I write this, not out of sadness although I really am sad, but because of my appreciation of the wonder of life--as it gives us people like Roger Ebert.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
I can’t help worrying that I’m boring the hell out of people with these damned social media fundamentals. Curation? Duh! Don’t I know that there is a social media site called Listly that is all about curation? Believe it or not, I am. But that’s my point--Listly is only about curation and maybe it would have a brighter future if it was about more than that.
But I would like to get all the fundamentals out of the way, so here is the last one: creativity. This is an extremely brief one as what I have to say is very simple. And anyway, creativity is your job. : )
Obviously, some networks are mainly about creativity like Vimeo, YouTube and Tumblr, and others, like LinkedIn, are not at all.
How do I define creativity in social media? I think it has to be something that sticks around. A funny remark on Twitter is creative, but it’s gone in an instant. On the other hand, every picture or video you put up on Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, Tumblr, etc., stays there. Tagging and search are common in social media, which makes it easier for people to find what you make. Facebook lacks tagging, of course, but the word is that it’s playing around with adding hashtags, so search may become a reality there too.
Social media experts are always talking about content being king and they offer tons of advice about how to make regal content. I only have one thing to say… enjoy it. If you have fun making the stuff you put up, people will respond to it. Check out the graphics animator Signe Baumane puts up on her Facebook page. Of course, she makes them to get attention for her movie, but you can also see the fun she is having. She is doing it for its own sake and it shows.
Stop thinking so much about posting things on your Facebook page that will create interest in your movie or your art and start thinking about social media as a new form of art that you might get satisfaction and pleasure out of making.
Monday, March 11, 2013
After last week’s post went up, a friend emailed me: “I love the social media ethos you are developing,” he wrote. “ Pastor Reid… the sermons are good.” It was a funny, and completely unexpected comment because I hadn’t previously considered that my social media fundamentals could be looked at from the perspective of moral values--that was just an accident, albeit a happy one. I was only thinking in an abstract way about whatever works.
This week my social media fundamental is curation, which is a pretentious way of saying that the user is making choices that reveal their judgment, personality, and identity. Every time you find links to share on Facebook, you’ve made a decision that they are more important than the stuff you come across that’s not good enough. This is usually instantaneous and automatic. There’s a quote from Ryan Gosling that is applicable:
“Picking roles is like listening to songs on the radio: there can be a lot of really great songs in a row, but then one comes on that just makes you want to dance.”
You hear that song, you read that article and then… click! Whether you think about it or not, you are incrementally saying: “this is who I am.” You are making gesture to all your offline friends and acquaintances, and all those completely unknown people who gather around the social media water cooler: “Hey everybody, here are my favorite movies, TV shows, bands, books, politics, and hobbies!” I am what I choose. And when a lot of people in the social media space sign on to what you’re putting out… it makes you feel good. It gives you satisfaction in some weird way that is new with social media.
Facebook is more popular than all the other networks combined because it allows you to make your choices better than the others do, and it has the most members, which gives you a potentially larger bully pulpit for your curations. Twitter is inherently not so good at curation because you are making so many choices that each one has very little weight. Therefore, Twitter will never, ever be even close to as popular as Facebook, but one of the reasons that it is popular is that it rests on a bedrock of curation--you just have to follow a tweetmeister for a for a very long time before their personality becomes evident through a hundred foot high pile of 140 character tidbits.
You take a lot of pictures with your phone. Which ones do you put up on Instagram? Which pictures do you put up on Pinterest? What do you put up on your Tumblr blog? That’s you. . Just pluck a lot of crap out of the fragrant perfume and effluvia of the worldwide web.
Okay. Imagine there is a sites that provides a service of some kind. Not wanting to be left out of the social media whirlwind of excitement, they decide they need to be “social.” So they stick on some iteration of “like” and “share” buttons and give their users the opportunity to comment. But maybe they forget curation or don’t realize its importance or just can’t jam it in for some reason. Even if they do, not many people take them up in any significant way because it doesn’t make them feel good, and generating that high is the crack of social media. For most platforms, there is a circular problem with getting the users to that emotional place, because one component of the joy of curation is having a sizable audience. But the successful ones can make you feel good without a big audience. You feel the fun immediately for its own sake, soon others do, and as Chairman Mao said in the Little Red Book, you soon have a prairie fire.
Curation is the oxygen of social media as it breeds the comments, likes and shares.
By the way, I just suggested above that I read Mao’s Little Red Book, something I could easily have done on my Facebook page. What does that tell you about me? It says that I contain multitudes, as Walt Whitman said. Dropping lots of names shows that I’m a real smartie, and I don’t have to write this damned blog to do that, which is a lot of work, and by the way, tons more people see what I curate on Facebook than read this.
Of course, I’ve neglected to say that people don’t only curate on social media, they also make their own stuff. Creativity is next week’s post.
Monday, March 04, 2013
Most of us are familiar with how Facebook and Twitter work, but some of us might not use Pinterest or Instagram or have never thought about how you might get more out of LinkedIn. New social media networks are going to be invented in the future. It’s possible that you will like one so much that you’ll spend more of your time there than you do on Twitter or Facebook (as I do with Artstack.) When you get there first time, you are probably a little lost.
What if there were some fundamental ideas that were true for all social media? What if you could use these ideas as a basic guides for how to use each one of them well? Armed with a compass like that, you wouldn’t always need to be looking to experts for advice and you could follow your own path through each one.
Last week I wrote about the basic social media component of reciprocity. This week I’m going to discuss its sibling, generosity. Reciprocity within social media is pretty much what you’d expect-- “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”--but generosity is the idea that you are going to get very little back for what you put in.
Ted Hope has almost 25,000 Twitters followers and there is no doubt that he derives great benefit from having that many people hear what he has to say. But how much time has he invested getting all these followers? Tens of thousands of hours? How much information and commentary has he put out there every day. Is it “worth it”? Not in the world outside of social media it isn’t. We would expect to get a lot more out of that kind of investment of time. There are a lot of people and entities like Ted: celebrities, organizations, companies, journalists, and so forth, where they see advantages of various sorts for tweeting or being active on Facebook. Still, if you are a follower of Aziz Ansari or Chelsea Handler or Steve Martin or Howard Stern you’re getting a lot out of it. They get something too, but trust me they make more $$$ in their day jobs. Weirdly there are all sorts of people you have never heard of who build vast followings on Twitter for some reason. Why do they do this? For ego? There is this strange fever of delight that people get from having a lot of followers even if it’s as meaningless as “Follow me and I’ll follow you back!” But no matter. We get stuff from them just as we get stuff from our friends who don’t try to out-tweet the universe, and that’s one of the fundamental things that effective social media can offer us. And that’s what we should aspire to do on Twitter. Give.
If your company or film or organization has a Facebook page and all you do is use it as a newsletter, it’s not going to be very successful. Some added benefit has to be given to the people who like the page, from giveaways and prizes to entertaining content or news that they can’t get anywhere else. You have to treat your business page exactly like you treat your personal page. You have to give. People who have liked my Facebook page know that I put up cinema quote graphics each day (I’ve started putting up here too). That’s my treat. Maybe you enjoy them or maybe you don’t, but I make one every day.
You’ve got to give something.
Likewise, how many times have you helped somebody through social media? Answered a question? Given advice? Obviously generosity is central to crowdfunding networks like Kickstarter, where you literally reach into your pocket. Why? Would you have done this in another context? Would you extend your checkbook so easily if they set up a stand in Union Square? It’s an internet phenomenon that supersizes the telethons and PBS tote bags of yesteryear, but have you ever thought about how crowdfunding might have parallel attributes to other things you do in social media?
All kinds of opportunities for giving can be found on the internet. Giving doesn’t make something social media, but social media means giving.
When you get to unknown social media terrain for the first time, if you look around for where the giving is, I promise you it will help you get started and soon you’ll be ahead of the game. And if you have trouble finding it or it seems lame and grafted on, then there is something amiss with that network.
Is it intrinsic to the fabric of the thing? Is it built in? Or has it merely been grafted on by its creators to make it look “social”? This is a vital question in figuring out not only how to use it as well as questioning whether it’s much of a social network at all. It may be very useful, but you might notice that it’s attempts to be social are kind of lame.
Where’s the generosity? Find it and be generous. If you can’t find it… there is probably something wrong.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
“And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to
The love you make.”
Everybody wants people to pay more attention to their Facebook business page and there are lots of ways to make that happen--although I believe it’s getting harder and harder to do these days.
Unless you have a huge page with thousands of followers, I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are only a few people who comment and share regularly on your page, the ones that appreciate what you’re offering more than anybody else does. Social Media gurus call them “superfans” and some even refer to them as “free salesmen” for your products which I find kind of cynical kind of idea I’d like to scrape off my shoes.
What if instead of only thinking about ourselves, we took a little time to try to help out our superfans? How about our friends? How about anything that looks worthwhile? Because it is very hard to make your voice heard on Facebook and people need all the help they can get.
What about a little reciprocity? That’s the true spirit of social media.
Facebook forces us to do all kinds of unnatural things because it’s computer algorithm Edgerank is antithetical to human communication, as it puts a computer between us. Facebook servers don’t know how to evaluate the quality of human contact. If you are quietly appreciating something without commenting, it decides you don’t care, which is nuts.
Reciprocity is one of the fundamental components of social media. I don’t think a social media network will grow and flourish unless reciprocity is hard-wired into it, like the retweet is in Twitter.
There are a lot of niche social media platforms out there in addition to the big ones: Athlinks (athletes), ArtStack (fine art discover) Gentlemint (kind of like a Pinterest for men), and ThirdAge (health for boomers and beyond), and hundreds of others, notably niche dating sites for every group you can imagine. Which ones will survive?
The winners will be the ones that incorporate reciprocity and other social media fundamentals in the most elegant and authentic ways.
Just as reciprocity is make or break for these platforms, it works the same way for you when you use them. Whatever menu you cook up for yourself with the big and small networks, if you enter them with the idea of practicing intelligent reciprocity you will do better than if you don’t.
There are other fundamentals to successful social media and I’ll be talking about them in later posts.
Monday, February 18, 2013
I’m sorry I haven’t been writing for a bit. Life intercedes sometimes.
The bright side is that I have been working up ideas for what will be a series of posts that sum up a lot of the broad concepts that have been percolating in my head about Facebook and social media over the last year. I have learned a lot by doing and I think I have much more to offer today than when I began writing this blog in September.