In preparation for our meeting I decided to write some notes in order to organize my thoughts and ended up with this long winded essay below. I thought I would share in case anyone is interested, I hope you don’t find it pretentious.
Kevin’s theories on social media.
Background/History of Projects
First a little background, The Arthouse is the 7th major project I have been involved in or ran where I tried to get the word out.
The first was Grand Ave Live, a live action talk show that I ran at the Trunk Space. I worked my butt off each month to only get 8 asses in seats. One of the major lessons from this experience is I should look for projects where I could “expand the room,” meaning any project should include a mechanism to put content on the web. It is very difficult to get people to physically come to shows, pay a cover and sit in a venue, unless it is music. Online content allows for people to watch at their leisure and reach an audience beyond the night of the show and beyond the immediate vicinity of downtown Phoenix.
Second was Poetry on Fire, which became Firestage after Ernesto took it over. That was well attended. The lesson there was the more people involved, the more people it brings because the more people involved the more people spreading the word. Also the more “virgins” to the mic, the more asses in seats because they are more excited and tell more people. Ironically the more your performers have performed on stage the less of a crowd they bring. However the more people involved the harder a show it is to organize and pull off gracefully.
Third was the Stationary Hobo, a comedy podcast about traveling, even though I never went anywhere. Hours was spent learning how to record audio, make a podcast and build an infrastructure for the podcast online. Few people listened. However many people went to my webpage. Lesson there was make things easy for people to access. Best way to make easy access is use a platform they already know, like youtube. Also lesson there was it is really hard to get the word out if few are involved.
Fourth was Ahweh Cafe a blog where other authors could submit short travel narratives, it was meant to be on online vacation you could take at your cube every day for 10 minutes. It was lots of work, it had potential but I got lost in managing stuff online.
Fifth was “How to get ready for the apocalypse”a blog with, at last count 17,000 views. This, by far, is my most successful project ever. The lesson there was a steady stream of content drives views, hits from search engines, links etc. Blogs are great, or at least the easiest to make a steady stream of content. I also made videos for this blog but the major driver was the blog entries. Also lesson was find a subject that people are interested in and a little unique. Regular stream of content drives hits more than how much you hustle. I did very little hustling on this project but concentrated more on the content.
Sixth was newscaster at FFNL. We all have our versions of lessons learned from the show.
These were the major projects, there were many side-projects or projects where I played a more minor role where I tried to pay attention, like member of Arcana, hosting the ExoticErotic Show, MC for some fashion shows, blog about living overseas, running a poetry slam in Tempe and another in Mesa for a while, to name a few.
Seventh major project is the Arthouse. Originally my plan was to have three in the bag before we released any episodes and then release 1 every two weeks until we were done. This did not happen because filming/editing the first two episodes took so long. Speed over quality was one of my original goals but I had to sacrifice this goal because others in the project wanted quality over speed and to keep them involved I felt I had to bend. Once all the episodes are out, then my hope is/was to submit to many places and drive hits once all the content is out there. The goals of the Arthouse being a sitcom series is that it (A) has a regular content stream, (B) involves more than one or two people but not an overwhelming amount of people.
Lessons Learned (So far) from the Arthouse.
When involving a lot of people it is great to have a mechanism where people can come in and out. Second the less people involved the better but you still want more than one, I am guessing that 8 is the sweat spot. I am shitty at motivating others and keeping them motivated, Michael23 is great at this and does it by spending hours upon hours locked in conversations with many many people. He has makes sure he has lots of rewards along the way, like parties, gatherings and deliverables. I just don’t have the patience that he does. I was hooping regular content would keep people engaged becasuse we would have lots of deliverables, however video goes into a dark hole and no one but the editor knows that work is being done. Keeping others engaged while editing is tricky.
This is the first project where i tried an indiegogo campaign. I am glad we are trying it to learn for future Firehouse projects. I think the first major problem is that we asked for money to early, meaning one should ask for money once you have a large built-in audience (meaning many likes on the facebook fan page, subscribers on the youtube channel, views on the video, or whatever your online presence is.) Also, once you ask for money, people can get weird.
Youtube: Marginally I was sending the playlist to people to watch, so they would see all the videos at once. My current theory is that this tracks the views on the playlist page and not the video itself. So better to post episodes and not the playlist.
Of the folks who have written on social media or viral marketing, the one I like the most is Seth Godin, if you were going to start anywhere with reading about viral marketing theory that is a great place to start your Google search.
Another book and author worth checking out for ideas is Guerrilla marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. He concentrates more on businesses, but has good things to mull over.
Another person I have seen work very hard at trying to get the word out is Bob Nelson, of the Mesa Poetry Slam community and Brick Cave Media. If you ever get the chance to hangout with him for an afternoon and pick his brain it is well worth doing.
Why Stream of Content matters.
People don’t like being spammed. It turns them off, they like even less being spammed from their friends. If you have a blog, or facebook page or twitter feed that does nothing but spam people it turns them off. However, there is a general rule of thumb that people in marketing have that people have to see something 7 times before they react or take action or click on your link. So let’s say you have 1 movie or 1 show or 1 album. If you beat people over the head about the same product over and over it turns them off, but you still have to keep posting to get their attention. A stream of content allows you to post over and over without “spamming” them or “saying the same thing again and again.” Plus if they go to your webpage for one piece of content, and they like it they will go to the older inventory of content. So a steady stream of content allows you to keep pushing your self out there and builds interest over time. Plus, a regular stream of content gets noticed more by the search engines, people clicking around, and getting views outside of your immediate world. The trick of this, of course, is it takes time and you have to figure out a product that you can produce on a regular basis.
Social Media will not save us
Just posting a lot of shit on facebook or twitter or google plus or whatever is not going to drive hits, people will turn their eyeballs off. You have to tweak each post to something specific about that group or page or recent event. Nothing is better than individual word of mouth and face to face contact. However, that is not great for big numbers, plus face to face isn’t does not allow them to click now.
Here is a list of things I have done for the Arthouse to get the word out.
Posted to Facebook communities “Arizona actors”- This is other film people promoting their own stuff, so I think it is a bunch of people yelling “Look at me” so I don’t think so effective. Best to post there when looking for extras or locations.
Posted a couple of times and attended “AZ Rebel Filmmakers” meetup group. This is a great group for networking and once I am done with this project plan to attend more of their events. However, not so effective for online marketing because the focus of the group is meeting other film makers at screenings etc. If we could find someone involved in our project that would want to attend filmmaker events in the valley this would be good.
Organized FilmBar screening: I did not really want to do a Filmbar screening because I figured every ass in a seat was a view we would not get online, looking at the number of views of episode 2 and 3 proves this to be the case. However, we needed to do an event to help keep cast and crew motivated. Not sure if I want to do another one.
Youtube channel; I have spent lots of time surfing and watching other people’s videos and leaving comments on other people’s videos. This is great at getting subscribers and comments to our videos on youtube. “Liking” someone’s video does not help because there is no record of who liked it. Comments do a good job of leaving a record and make a clickable place for people who are already logged in to go to. We have 19 subscribers so far, which is great in such a short amount of time. I am confident that surfing other people’s videos and leaving comments is what has helped us create this subscribers, more of this could/should be done.
Youtube channel: I have spent time in making sure that the videos feed into each other. This is done by making a playlist and also making sure the title of the videos are similar format. Tags on youtube are not effective for drawing views.
Facebook: I have created a facebook fan page. I should have done this a while ago, but resisted because I thought we would be spending energy on getting people to the page when we really want them to the youtube channel. I am not sure how to best use a facebook fan page for online marketing purposes.
Flyers and Posters: Flyers and posters only work on people’s subconscious. Few people actually take a flyer or poster, rather if you have a lot of them out there and people see them when they see links on the internet they are like “Huh, I think i heard something about that.” Posters work better at this than flyers. However, flyers are great at giving to people when you have been talking to them about the project. I should have 10 flyers in my pockets at all time for these very conversations, this is surprising harder to pull off than one might think.
Press: Benjamin interviewed us for the New Times but because he “had to much going on” he was not able to write the article in time for the screening, but he has written it and is waiting for us to release the next episode. He says he will post when we release the next episode.
Things we could do more off:
Press releases: These do better than you might think but take time. I did them a lot with Grand Ave Live and they were my most effective tool. The trick to them is to build and email list of press contacts, which involves going to all local media outlets and cutting and pasting names of journalists who do the “Night and day” stuff. Send this email list the info one by one, press doesn’t like it if they think they were one of many to get the press release. Then write a 2 paragraph press release for each release or event. The first paragraph is what is new coming up, the second paragraph describes the overall project. The second paragraph can be the same one over and over.
Facebook: Cast and crew has sucked at posting links to episodes as they are released. Oh well. So after each episode we go to each person involved, thank them on their page for helping out and posting link to most recent video.
Once the series is done I am going to move into “distribution” which means I am going to spend the 6 or 7 months after the series is done getting it out there by submitting to many places.
Random Notes on Film Festivals
Webby’s short video, just submit with url.
Online 295 film. Must be what is online.
Phoenix Film Festival April 4 to April 11 is 2013 is festival
There is no list of criteria only link to submit through without a third party
Done by International Academy of Web television.
Done after online. All about web television
Would have to be for 2013, can have been on internet
Most likely category is Short Film Narrative Shorts emphasizes “distinctive and genuine storytelling” no comedy section.
No fee and can have played anywhere
PDF application http://www.comic-con.org/cci/forms/cci13_iff.pdf
Humor category, no swearing. No short category. No fee
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards for Outstanding special class –Short format Live-action entertainment programs
The Guild has won YouTube Video Award Best Series, and South by Southwest greenlight award- Best orginal Prdouction