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Hallowe’en again: tis the season of ghosts, witches and things that go ‘bump’ in the night.

It’s the season of facing the things you fear most. It could be the screenplay that you’ve started and never finished, the part you promised to an actor friend you forgot or some twisted skeleton hanging in your closet.

Or maybe, just maybe – could it be something even scarier – like social media?

For most filmmakers and screenwriters, the thing we fear most is losing all the fans we have worked so hard to get. Getting a fan (or follower on Twitter) takes a lot of hard work. You spend a heap of energy attracting a fan, then even more effort into getting them to watch a trailer for your movie and yet even more to get them to buy, rent or see your movie (or to attend a festival screening). To lose even one fan is disheartening.

In keeping with the Hallowe’en season, here are the 13 ghoulish mistakes you can make to scare fans away from your Facebook page or Twitter profile: Boo!

1. Being a stranger

You might welcome a total stranger to your front door on Hallowe’en – especially if they have the right costume on. That doesn’t mean you will like or follow a total stranger on your social media profiles.

Want to know the surefire way to be seen as a stranger on social media? Irrelevant content, of course. Post stuff that doesn’t click with your fan base will make sure you look like a total stranger, and people will run away as quickly as you can say “Unlike”.

Remedy:
Pay attention to your followers. Give them the kind of content they want. Is it advice and tips? Or is it your own unique look at the film industry? Listen to your fan base, to your audience. It will make you less scary and soon they will trust you.

2. Posting too much or too little

Social media mistakes could work like this:

Imagine if the same trick-or-treater banged on your door half a dozen times on Hallowe’en night, each time with a slightly different costume on. Wouldn’t you soon turn off the lights and pretend you weren’t home?

Bombarding your lists with message after message is a great way to lose followers. Conversely, rarely posting means you could get pushed down the search engine rankings becasue you will appear dormant. Most big sites like Twitter and Facebook use software like Facebook’s Edgerank Algorithm which filters content according to how it’s users engage with it.

One associate of mine started a Twitter profile for their new company, and now post about once a fortnight. Imagine if you were considering this person professionally. would you want to do business with someone so silent?

Remedy: Post regularly – even if it’s just once a day. Creating an interesting Facebook or Twitter post takes 15 minutes max.

3. Heavy selling

Some of my mates hate spiders, others hate vampires. I hate snakes. One thing everyone hates is being sold to too often.

If your social media is only about buying your movie, your tee shirt or screenplay, before you know it your fan base and audience will have dwindled to one – your mum. And even she might get a little tired of hearing how important it is to own one of your movies or ancilliary products.

Remedy: Want to make friends of your enemies? Surround your sales messages with really great and interesting alternative content. They’ll come back for more and more, and end up being your biggest fans.

4. Being whiney

Bitchiness and whining never brings success or fortune – especially on social media. People don’t log onto Twitter or LinkedIn to get flooded by negativity. Remember – social media is meant to be charming and fun.

As a kid growing up in Toronto, there was this really cranky neighbour we all skipped on Hallowe’en. Here are 3 reasons potential fans with skip your social media profile and run a mile:

  • Trashing others: Bad-mouthing anyone is a really bad strategy and will bring with it misfortune. Never complain. Never comment. Even when you are right and know someone is an arse.
  • Complaining: Complaining invites negative feedback That’s human nature, and before you know it your social media profiles will be flooded with negative feedback and your friends will be unliking you in droves.
  • Lashing back at negative feedback: Face it – people are going to dislike and maybe even hate your work. When someone does you need to handle negative feedback correctly. If you lash right back, you can make yourself look really bad yourself, something that yopur followers will notice right away.

5. Same time, different day

I know I can be guilty of this just about every day: Sending out the same message, the same article day after day. Can’t you see how this bores the pants off everybody?

Remedy: Mix it up. Photos, infograms, blog posts, videos and podcasts make really interesting content that will draw fans to your social media profiles quicker than bees to honey.

Get a calendar and plan ahead of how you can use all the different content creation tools at your disposal and schedule them in for maximum effect.

6. Politics

Less said, if anything, the better. You are an entertainer. Not a political campaigner. This doesn’t mean you can’t campaign for causes like Jeremy Irons did at the Raindance screening of Trashed.

Remedy: Of course you can have a picture of Prince Charles when he visits you on your set or attends your world premiere. But keep it to that – a picture. The minute you start banging on about how great the monarchy is, all the anti-monarchists will come out screaming at you.

7. Rudeness

The minute you loose sight of the fact that different people have different levels of sensitivity is when you are exposing yourself to audience backlash.

Remedy:
Think before you post. Of all the social media mistakes try and avoid this one, tempting as it may be.

8. Not engaging

Here’s what I see a lot of: a filmmaker gets a really good group of people together, whips up a storm of support for a screening or an online voting for an award – and then drops their entire fan base like a hot potatoe until the next project comes along.

Remedy: Engage with your audience in the quiet times as well as durting the frantic peaks. Surveys, questionaires, news alerts will all help keep you in your audience’s vision.

9. Getting personal

People want to get to know you and what you stand for. They don’t want details of your personal life. Have you ever seen a Tweet like “off to the shop to get some fags”? Is there anything more boring?

Remedy: Social media is great for organising your personal life. Why not create a private Facebook and/or Twitter account that you only share with family and close friends? That way you keep the dog farts out of your professional profile.

10. Being gross

Gross might make your mates laugh on Hallowe’en. And that’s fun. A lot of what you do can be pretty gross, and even grotesque. It doesn’t mean you need to share everything on your social media. ‘Cos if you do you could be committing one of the social media mistakes.

Remedy: Show yourself to advantage. If you owned “Lawn Care & Pest Control” what would you show? Pictures of mangled rodents and dead grub worms? Or a photo of a beautifully amnicured lawn? Shock rarely works on social media. People just turn away.

11. Making people read – a social media mistake

OMG people don’t read anymore. If you want to look like a social media antique – write text heavy posts.

Remedy: If you need a lot of text to explain something, point your reader to a supplementary page, or get them to download a PDF. Better yet, dispense with text altogether and do it with a great picture or video.

12. Not responding to feedback – of the social media mistakes this is a biggie

People are more apt to respond or comment via social media than call or email you. Are you prepared to respond back?

Remedy: Make sure your Facebook and blogs are set up to receive feedback. When you get it, acknowledge or comment on it. Don’t shy away from negative feedback – it helps make you look real.

13. Forgetting the offline experience

OK Ok – you are great on social media. You’ve overcome the basic social media mistakes. I’ve been following you for months and even dumped a few coins into your crowdfunding appeal. Now you’ve convinced me to get off my shelf and down to the library to the screening of your film. When I get to the offline experience, whether it’s a screening or an informal networking event, I better be wowed by the offline experience. If I’m not, I’m out of there.

Remedy: ‘Wow’ your fans when you meet them!

Fade Out

Do I wish I (and Raindance) could follow my own advice? I guess the moral of this short story is: put your film and your career first, and the fans and likes on your social media profiles will follow.

Yours in filmmaking,
Elliot Grove

Elliot Grove

About 

Elliot Grove is the founder of Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. He has produced over 700 hundred short films and also five feature films, including the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead in 2006, Deadly Virtues in 2013 and AMBER in 2017. He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance trailer 2017

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

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