6 Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

I must admit, I’m not an SEO or Social Media guru.  In fact, on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being extremely interesting), I’d give this topic a 3.  But, after reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook,” (which I would give a 10), I’ve shifted my thinking entirely.  I also realized why, the topic has had little interest for me – most of the books, articles and blogs I had read were full of formulaic tips  – but none of the advice and tips felt like a good fit who I was and what I had to offer.  And in fact if I had applied some those tips to my blog or my Facebook posts, I would have done myself and my business a disservice by not being “myself” – or authentic.

Some social media marketing mistakes to avoid:

  • Putting the wrong content on a platform – Each platform, (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram etc.) has it’s own “native” language or how the community communicates  and interacts with one another.  A good marketer understands that “context” is just as important as content.  Your content must provide the same value to the viewer that is native to that platform. Your content should fit in with what drives people to that platform.
  • Content is not memorable – Your content should be something that people want to share. ooe fb [age Facebook uses edge rank, which determines who and how many people see your posts.  The more shares, comments and likes, the better your edge rank and the more people who see your posts.  Keep your content, informative, entertaining or both and give people the desire to share.
  • Selling too often – You have to “give” more than you “sell” on social media platforms. If every post you make is a pitch for your products, no one will be interested, let alone want to share them.
  • Text is too long – Twitter has a cut off, but Facebook doesn’t.  Keep in mind that more and more people are viewing your posts on mobile devices and simply won’t read lots of information.  Provide more info via links. Make sure your text is provocative and entertaining.
  • No use of imagery – If you don’t have an image in your posts on platforms like Facebook or Tumblr, you won’t attract attention.  People will just move on to something that catches their eye on their news feed.  And, make sure the images you post are good and professional – they’re a reflection of your business. Make sure you overlay your logo on your images.
  • No call to action – Remember you are ultimately selling your products and your services, so don’t forget to give your viewers a call to action.  But don’t confuse them by giving them too many.

5 Tips for Filmmakers (and other artists) for Building an Audience

The good news for Indie filmmakers, musicians, photographers and new media artists is that technology enables us to take control and distribute our own work to the masses or a more targeted niche audience.  The bad news is that even though we are able to reach a global audience without giving the lion’s share of our profits to an agent or distributor – it’s a lot of hard work.

When I completed final production on my first feature documentary, Opening Our Eyes, I knew I was hardly finished with this film, not if I wanted people to see it. theater interioeIMG_0150Since most filmmakers make their movies to be seen, they need to decide how they want their movies distributed and marketed.  As a filmmaker, do you want to delegate this task to a distribution company or do it yourself?  Will you be one of the lucky 1% of filmmakers who get their films picked up for distribution?  If not, do you have a plan on how to do that?

1. Identify and build audience – Regardless if you decide to sign with a distributor or distribute your work yourself, the most important part of marketing and distributing a film is to identify and build your audience – and you should start building your audience before the film is finished.  As soon as I made a commitment to make a film, I started blogging about it.  I created a blog specifically about the film where my daughter and I talked about preparing for and taking a 99-day journey around the world. I also wrote about the making of the film on this blog where I talked about gearing up for it as well as the post-production process.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was building our niche audience.

2. Have a social media plan:

  • Decide on platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube, Vimeo
  • Carve out the time to engage
  • Decide where the content will come from – behind the scenes photos or footage, blogs, podcasts?
  • Who and where is your audience? Find other Facebook groups or pages and followers who are interested in the same topic as yours.  Collaborate. Build your Twitter followers same way.

3. Finding true fans – Since most filmmakers will most likely NOT have a mega hit with huge profits, the best thing a filmmaker can do is build their “true fan” base.  First you should ask yourself how many “true fans” would you need to sustain yourself as a filmmaker? And by true fan, I mean people who are willing to buy whatever you are selling, be it a book, a DVD, a music download or a t-shirt.  The key to growing your core “true fans” is to engage them by sharing interesting content as opposed to just selling something.

4. Be consistent and stick with it – Like anything else, building an audience takes time.  Be prepared to constantly interact and engage your audience by sharing relevant and interesting content with them.  You’re building a tribe or a community.

5. Find likely partners – Making films is a collaborative effort.  Similarly, for filmmakers to be successful in marketing their films they need to find their core niche.  One great way to find your niche audience is to identify like minded groups and share links.  The non-profit my daughter works for partnered with us and we frequently share each other’s news with our followers.

We Are All Broadcasters

Back in the early1960’s, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement marchersthe world watched as violence and hatred played out every night on TV.  A few years later, we watched the horrors of the Vietnam War taking place on the other side of the globe, from the comfort of our living rooms. Those broadcasts made an indelible mark on me at the time, growing up in my fairly sheltered life in suburbia.  They opened my eyes to the world and I took it all in.

Yesterday, a tragic bombing occurred during the Boston Marathon that took the lives of three people and injured dozens more.  Seconds, after the first of the two bombs went off, everyone who was connected to the Internet, immediately knew what had happened, regardless of where they were in the world.  Photos, video and sound recordings went viral – globally and instantly.  Along with the “bonified” news broadcasts transmitted in real time, rumor and speculation spread instantly as well.

In the 50 plus years that have gone by since those early days of “live” news coverage, bringing “awareness” into our homes, technology continues to impact our lives in a profound way.  We are connected globally and there’s no turning back that clock.  We are no longer isolated from what is taking place anywhere and everywhere on the planet.

We are all collective participants. We can tweet, blog, post images and video on Facebook and numerous other social media platforms without really needing anyone’s validation, permission or vetting whatsoever.  Think of the power in that.  It gives everyone a voice on a global scale.  But along with that comes responsibility. It used to be that if you saw something written in a newspaper or heard it on the evening nightly news on TV, it was true and you could believe it.  But now what do we do?  How can we decipher and determine what we see and hear online is true and accurate? Ultimately, we need to make those judgments ourselves.

I’ve been thinking about this all morning, and I can only hope that as we become more connected through technology, that we start to embrace our similarities as human beings, instead of being split apart by our differences.  For those of us who are documenting the world through images and video, whether professionally or not, we are broadcasting on a global scale, on a daily basis.  Think about the power of that and the responsibility.

Creating Inspiration

I’ve gotten away from writing lately, maybe because I’ve been really busy, and maybe because I’ve felt uninspired.  That’s a terrible feeling for me, it’s as if I’m void of any “feeling” at all.  It tends to happen when I’m spending more time doing the things I don’t want to do instead of what I feel I’m here to be doing.

When I woke up this morning I thought, “anything can happen today”.  Temple of Horus, Edfu, EgyptThat thought in it self makes me want to get out of bed. I start thinking about the endless possibilities that can happen on any given day.  I grabbed a cup of coffee, checked my email and read Seth Godin’s blog and it was like it was written for me.  It was called “The moment of highest leverage”.  He was talking about moments when you’ve either lost something or won – when it feels hopeless or when it appears to be a lock.  He said that these were the times you can choose to do what’s in your heart and bring your real work to the world, instead of the lesser version that you think the market wants.

I’ve been struggling with feelings of hopelessness after a slew of rejections and misses. I knew I needed two things:  a change of scenery and some insightful conversation.  I went to Hawaii on impulse and got both.  One day, my good friend PF Bentley was showing me the “film” that he made for National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones.  Dewitt has been shooting extraordinary images for the Natl. Geo for over 40 years and he had hired PF to create inspirational corporate training videos.    The “film” segments were a combination of Dewitt speaking about his life and his career in an inspirational way and b-roll of him shooting in beautiful Hawaiian settings interwoven with his amazing still images.   The piece was so touching; it brought tears to my eyes.  When it was over I started crying and I apologized to PF.  He said, “that’s ok, I know I’ve done my job right”.  PF and Dewitt had done theirs jobs right and they had inspired me.

I’ve had two speaking engagements and a screening of Opening Our Eyes this past weekend and in each situation, I was feeling good and that I had something to say and to share.  It must have come across because at each venue there was at least one person who I inspired – I could tell – I could feel it.  There was one woman at the screening, who had found out about it through one of our subject’s blog, Maggie Doyne. After the movie was over and most people had gone, I talked to her for a long time and I could see that the film had inspired her greatly.  I knew that I had done my job right and it was the best feeling in the world.  It reminded me of what is most important to me in my life and that is to create awareness with my still images or movies and move people or inspire them.

I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook these days but I was looking at my news feed at the end of that long weekend and I noticed a photo that Ethan Browne (Jackson Browne’s son) had posted on his page.  It was a photograph of Jackson with one of his fans and Ethan had commented underneath it  “proud of   my pops – he stokes people for a living”.  I smiled and I thought, “That’s what I want to do”.

10 Ways I’m Making the New Year More Analog

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I miss from my “analog” days. I’m far from being a Luddite; in fact if anything I’m just the opposite, continually embracing technology and using it to grow creatively. I’m having the time of my life right now exploring a variety of mediums and I’m amazed at the global reach that I have as an artist and a member of the human race.

It’s a powerful time to be alive, because the world is literally at our fingertips. But I’m finding that as much as technology has “connected” more of us together, these “viral connections” are vastly different than our “analog” connections.  I’m not just referring to how we connect with each another, but also how we connect to ourselves and figure that out amongst all the noise.

So, I got to thinking about how I could be more “analog” in the New Year. Here’s some things I came up with:

  • Cut in half, the amount of time I spend interacting with people on social media platforms, and spend that time instead on personal interactions.
  • Get together more, face-to-face with clients, colleagues and friends.  Gosh, I think this is what I miss the most – people just don’t make the time for this anymore. And chatting via text, email and FB isn’t the same.
  • Write more letters, and send printed invitations and cards in the mail rather than always electronically.
  • Go online less often and have a specific purpose or task in mind when I do.
  • Make images the best I can in camera.  Just because I can change an image digitally in post – doesn’t mean that I always need to do that.
  • Create something printed – a photograph, a portfolio, an exhibition or a book.
  • Read more printed books on the couch, the porch, the beach or in bed.
  • Read a printed newspaper on a Sunday morning. ( If I can find one.)
  • Walk more in nature instead of on the treadmill.
  • Stare at a fire and look up at the sky more often.

Anyone else have suggestions on how to live more analog?

Photographers/Filmmakers as Publishers/Producers

It’s been a busy year, trying to manage jobs and lots of road trips giving seminars for ASMP to photographers who may be contemplating video.  I’ve enjoyed meeting my peers and sharing information through my presentations as well as on my blog, but I need to take some time to get back in the field and capture my own “moments” and “motion”. I need to spend some time “doing” right now and ultimately that will make what I have to share that more valuable and meaningful. So I will be embarking in a couple of weeks on a “passion project” that will take me around the world for 99 days.

It’s an exciting time to be working on a personal project because of various distribution possibilities and portals that are in everybody’s hands.  Ten years ago when I got started in video, technology made it possible for me to create documentaries and films without the need of large crews and big budgets.  And now with the web, fast download speeds, video host sites, mobile devices and itunes – I can – we all can be publishers and producers and get our content out globally. The pipelines have been democratized and it’s a very empowering position.

I’ve spent a career on the road and on assignment for various publications and corporations.  I’ve been fortunate to have worked for magazines like National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian and Travel & Leisure shooting stories on destinations and people all over the world. I suppose you could say that I lived the life I dreamed of. I was shooting these assignments at a time when magazines were giving me ample time in the field to come back with a story – back when travel magazines ran stories as opposed to survey pieces or celebrity profiles. More importantly, I maintained the copyright of my images and was free to market them as I wished after a standard embargo period was over – usually around 90 days.

These days many publishers issue “work for hire” contracts, so essentially photographers are giving up their copyright. Photographers have always been strong advocates for copyright and I include myself in that position.  But in our advocacy to keep strong copyright laws in place, we end up fighting for that right for large corporations and publishing empires who ultimately take away our copyright in lopsided contracts.  And for the most part these contracts are not negotiable.  You either agree and take the job or you don’t.

These days because of technology we can be our own publishers and deliver our stories and other content in a number of different ways.  Sure it means taking the risk up front but that in itself brings its own rewards. It’s very liberating to be shooting and answering only to myself – not second-guessing someone else.  I take more chances creatively because I’m not afraid to fail.  And every time I’ve ever done that, I’ve grown and the rewards have been many – both creatively and financially.

I don’t know exactly how and where my Opening Our Eyes project will be distributed when I complete my journey.  But these days – it could be a book, a multimedia exhibition, a feature film distributed through itunes or on a DVD through Amazon, various magazine articles or broadcast.  I could package the journey and the back-story and give talks to universities.  An endless sea of possibilities.  What an amazing time we live in where we can all make our dreams come true.

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The Power of Social Media

My last blog entry, I wrote about the DO’s and DON’T’s of Social Media. The next day I put some of some of those tips to work.

I am embarking on a personal project, Opening Our Eyes. The idea behind the project is to make a documentary that features people who are making a difference around the world – people who have followed their dreams, passions and ambitions and started their own personal projects that help make the world a better place. Ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things.

In looking for these people or subjects of the documentary, I wanted to utilize the power of social media and my connections and friends, to not only find “leads” but also to make the entire project an interactive experience from the start. So, two days ago I launched a simple website and blog and gave the idea a name, “Opening Our Eyes – Global Stories About the Power of One”.

My daughter Erin is teaming up with me on this project. She lives in Chicago – I live in NJ – but with social media we can bridge that divide as well as get the involvement of all our separate “friends”. Using a company called SquareSpace and their amazing publishing software, I was able to set up a simple blog and website and get it online in less than a day. It site will grow as we both continue to add content and relevant links and information, but by getting the idea “out there” and providing a way for feedback and dialog to take place – we are building our own community at the same time.

After the site was created, I created a fan page on Facebook with information about the project and links to the website. I also registered the blog with Network Blogs and inserted a “follow this blog” button on the fan page. And then I tweeted about project on Twitter, which automatically shows up, on my own personal FB . I also sent out about 50 emails to people I know.

The response has been overwhelming. Within a day I have received over 50 ideas about people and their projects. We’ve had well over 300 hits on the site and almost 40 fans on Facebook. Now that might not seem like a lot to some people – but to us it was an amazing response in such a short time.

As the project takes shape fueled by the interest and eagerness of our participants we are building a community and opening others’ eyes to the “power of one”.

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Some DOs and DON’Ts of Social Media

This past weekend I put together a presentation on Social Media Tips for the group, Professional Women Photographers, this coming Wednesday, Jan. 6th in New York City.
Here are a couple of tips that I will talk about.

• Be consistent and strategic with your “brand” – Create a plan. Who are you? What do you have to say?
• Listen first – then engage in the conversation.
• Build your community – Who will you follow? Who do you want to attract?
• Be authentic and share – provide value – relevant and useful content.
• Don’t sell.
• Use links – provide news.
• Create and sort groups of Facebook “friends” – separate personal and business “friends”
• Set up a Facebook Fan Page for your business – complete the profile, including photo.
• Take part in discussions or answers on Linkedin.
• Set up an editorial calendar for blog – this will give you a structure.
• Comment on other blogs – become an expert.
• Use tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, SocialOomph, SocialToo, Ping.fm, involver – to organize and automate tweets.
• Don’t create tweets with more than 120 characters – leave room for retweets
• Use www.search.twitter.com for topics and people
• Set up “alerts” with Google alert or tweetbeep – to see where your name is being mentioned
• Use @(name) in tweet for someone who is not a follower
• Set up a daily routine – will help with time management

Please add to the list. Interact and share.

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Print vs Electronic – What Is The Future?

Just yesterday I was talking about the good and bad of social media and the potential pitfalls with time management. My routine each morning is to check for any news items on Twitter or Facebook or bookmarked blogs after catching up on my email. This morning there was one post on Facebook that caught my eye and was definitely worth the click through.

Via Mashable.com was Time Inc. Show Us Their Idea of The Future of Magazines [Video]. It was about how publishers are preparing digital versions of their magazines for the Apple Tablet. Apple hasn’t even officially confirmed they are working on this device. Embedded in the post was a pretty sophisticated demo of Sports Illustrated.

Amazing as the demo was – it had its critics. Check out Gizmodo’s post Time’s Manhattan Project Will Explode Like the Atomic Bomb It Is. The article questions how it’s any different from a web page and at ten times the cost. They state it’s pretty packaging but still stale and dead.

The future of publishing is an interesting debate. I suppose it really all comes down to how we the consumers want our information. What do you think?

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Input Overload

John Lennon once voiced in a song “everybody’s talking and no one says a word”. That was 30 years ago – way before social media. Nowadays it seems like everyone is talking – everywhere – a constant electronic pipeline into our lives. But with all this talking I wonder sometimes if anybody is really being heard. And isn’t that the point – to be heard?

I admit I’m guilty of the same thing. The very fact that I write a blog adds to the cyber babble. To be honest I really do it for myself. It helps me focus my thoughts. Sometimes what I write is not meant for anyone other than myself or maybe a close friend. Other times, I put it out there when I feel I have something to share. And every once in a while I say something that resonates with someone “out there” and a connection is made. And that can be a powerful thing.

That’s the appeal of social media – to connect with others. A basic human need. Ironically sometimes we spend so much time in the cyber world “connecting” we become more insular in the process. And when we do spend face-to-face time with others – many of us are multitasking plugged into whatever portable devices we have at the time. In other words not totally “there”.

These days I try to manage the time I spend on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and so on. It can be a real time suck if you’re not careful about managing your time. I go online with the social media sites 2 or 3 times a day and I give myself time limits when I do. It’s all about maintaining a balance.

Ultimately all this talking we do on social media platforms is not good or bad – it’s not that black and white. I’ve made some incredible connections through social media. I’ve also reconnected with people I’ve lost track of over the years. I’ve promoted my business utilizing social media and gotten work from people I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. But I’ll always prefer a real connection with people – outside the cyber world. I think most people do – that’s just being human.

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