Filmmaking as a career is difficult enough without having to constantly be looking over your shoulder to see what others are saying about you on the internet.
There is no escape from the internet and what people say about you. A filmmaker's online reputation is fast becoming almost as important as the films themselves. Another factor frequently overlooked by filmmakers is that the internet and social media has become a powerful marketing tool. The nightmare scenario is that a negative comment about you or your film will spread through search engines and social media sites like wildfire. Managing your online reputation correctly will enable you to take control of your reputation yourself. You can never erase negative feedback or comments. It's about creating, maintaining and managing the reputation you want people to have of you.
Step 1. Own your name
If anyone types in your name, or the title of your film or production company, you need to have the confidence that they can easily find you. Once they have found you, you need to make sure that the information they see is information that you have provided, or that you control. ??Blog posts, blog comments, articles, social media profiles, discussion forum contributions and business networks must all contain your name. Try where possible to use the same picture image, and email. People will get comfortable knowing they have the right 'you'. It goes without saying that you should get your domain name also. Go to www.whois.com and see if your name is available. If it isn't, try a variable. If www.elliotgrove.com has been taken, try www.groveelliot.com. And make sure you grab the different urls to suit: .eu, .com, .tv, .biz and so on.
You need to be able to listen to what is being said about you. The quickest and cheapest way is to set up Google Alerts for your name, and the names of anyone associated with you. Every time you are mentioned on the internet, you will get a ping with a link to the page. Google Alerts are free. There are very sophisticated and expensive monitoring tools available. These are used by the major brands to find out what their customers are saying about their goods and services.
Step 3: Join In
If you see anything anywhere being said about you, then you have every right to jump in and join the fray. Correct wrongs. Tell your side of the story. People reading these postings and articles will appreciate hearing from you.
Step 4: Know When To Be Quiet
Joining into a conversation does NOT mean getting dragged into arguments, name-calling and flaming. It is really easy to boil into a rage over an email or web article that dares to criticise your masterpiece. But you need to learn to restrain yourself. What you write is going to be on a website for a very long time, and is going to be picked up by search engines every time they key in your name. Do you really want someone in the future to see how you got suckered into an argument? Understand and realise what the outcome of your comments are, and learn when to keep quiet.
Step 5: Be Active
To successfully manage your online reputation you need to do more than just comment on conversations that are already started. You need to start conversations. Join filmmaking forums and groups. If your film project is topical, join communities that are relevant. Other members of these communities will learn to respect and admire you, even when they don't agree with you, and your online reputation will start to gleam.
Step 6: Behave Yourself
Just as your friends will judge you for ages after the unfortunate drunken behaviour at their party, so too online communities will judge you. Avoid swearing [unless you are OK with people seeing it]. Rude and prejudiced views will only work if they are the in line with the reputation that you want others to know you by.
Step 7: Enlist Your Private Network
Your friends and colleagues can become invaluable to your reputation if handled in the right manner. Every once in a while, a filmmaker needs a bit of cheer-leading to help get over a hurdle. It is considered OK to ask everyone in your address book to vote for your film in a competition once in a very long while, but to do it repeatedly will mark you out as a desperado. Beware of overkill. A good online friend is also someone who will delete that photo from their Facebook profile - you know - the one of you in a compromising position. Once embarrassing pictures are tagged, it becomes a part of your online reputation even if it is on their site. Politely ask them to remove it.
Step 8: Create Fabulous Content
Content is king. People on the net expect you to give clear answers to their questions and relevant information about your career or project.??To keep enhancing your online reputation, return emails and comment questions promptly and regularly update your blog. Doing so will send out the signal that you care and that you have taken time out of your busy and successful life to provide quality information that they need.
Step 9: Court Controversy
If you provide an environment where people can complain about you, or can provide contradictory points of view, then you are onto a winner. Rather than be afraid of what people might think of you, you put out the vibe that you are big enough to handle anything - and hey! You might even learn. If you find a discussion of people dissenting with you, try to bring that discussion onto your own blog or website. If you succeed in doing so, chances are that will turn them from detractors into advocates.
Step 10: Manage Your Offline Presence
Your offline presence should mirror your online presence. Appearances at film festivals, the way you answer your telephone, the way you dress, your punctuality, how quickly you return telephone calls, your ability to deliver on schedule - all of these off-line elements will add to or detract from your on line reputation. Your online reputation will take a quick dive if you behave like a jerk in real life, is what I am trying to say.
Managing your online reputation need not be a daunting process once you become aware of the cause and effect consequences of the internet. Probably the greatest fear filmmakers have is the time and energy involved. Online reputations do take considerable effort. It is a personal decision how much effort you want to put into your online presence. Divide the day into a couple of half hour blasts. Put up auto- responders and "Away Shooting" notices on your blogs and website if you need a breather. Doing that will demonstrate the value of one of the most important dramatic tools: Create anticipation in your audience. They'll be waiting for you when you return!