by Fin Wheeler
Having a social media presence is essential to getting noticed, so how can an aspiring screenwriter get the best investment?
Social Media Networks (Continued)
Tumblr – 53.3 million users monthly and growing
The mini blogs of Tumblr are seen as an alternative to Instagram. There are 280.4 million blogs on there, so standing out on Tumblr might be a problem. Most users (78%) access content on their phone, 69% of all users are American, and half the visitors are under 25. In the past year, television networks have lost 30-40% of this demographic, so if you know how to engage and retain them, producers will certainly be interested. But…
Independent research by TechCrunch found that 22% of all content on Tumblr had pornographic content and that the Not Safe For Work (NSFW) mode was not always effective. (It’s extremely hard to find investors interested in bankrolling R-rated mainstream content because there’s not really a solid audience for it.) So, I’m not sure a Tumblr blog is the way to go if you’re trying to create a positive impression.
LinkedIn – 429 million users, slight drop in usage
A year or two ago, there was a lot of activity on LinkedIn discussion groups. Producers would regularly keep tabs on Screenwriting/Filmmaker groups and discussions as a way of identifying up-and-comers. But in the past year, people have been spending less time on LinkedIn.
People in non-creative industries tend to spend more time on job search sites. People in the creative industries have evolved the way they use the site. People follow more companies and people. When they open the app, they’re more likely to scroll through their feed and look at the articles and posts referred by members of their network. They spend much less time visiting groups and joining discussions each month.
Read the industry trades, signup to get email blasts from companies like Final Draft and The Black List. If you post something interesting, members of your network will repost it on theirs. That’s how you build a name for yourself and gain valuable industry knowledge.
My tip to screenwriters about LinkedIn networking would be that quality is much more important than quantity. When I first graduated from film school, I spent time developing in-person relationships with a few key industry players. Once you have the respect of a few, you can then slowly build on that. I know there are a lot of people who want to get 500+ network connections as soon as possible, but I just don’t see the point of a large ignorant network who know absolutely no one in the industry. I chose to take a few years to develop a genuine network of working professionals whom I respect.
I know how frustrating it is that building a reputation literally takes years. But, if you behave well and consistently for two or three years, you’ll gain the lifelong respect and trust of all the right people. And, by the time you do get your break, you’ll be mature and knowledgeable enough not to stuff it up.
Twitter – 325 million users, decrease in usage
If you are a comedian/screenwriter, having a substantial, loyal Twitter following can get you noticed.
Important tip: don’t bug anyone. As a screenwriter, I don’t ever direct message anyone. I answer messages from directors and producers, but I don’t ever bug them (this goes for LinkedIn, too). Directors and producers are extremely busy. When they are looking for a script, or they want to talk to you about a project, they will direct message you or send you an email. When you, a screenwriter, wants to send out query letters about your latest spec, DO NOT DIRECT MESSAGE people that you don’t actually know. Send an email to the general address listed on their website. If you’re overly familiar with a producer that you hardly even know, they’ll immediately imagine how rude/disrespectful you would be to their directors, actors, and investors.
Pinterest – 110 million users, decrease in usage
Authors seeking to get published use Pinterest as a way to generate interest from a potential audience. The audience/readers get to understand the person behind the books. Most of the people I know who have Pinterest accounts also post on Instagram. Only you can decide which platform best suits your personality and your brand.
Snapchat – 100 million daily users
If you graduated college more than two years ago, you probably don’t understand the point of Snapchat. This year Snapchat hit 10 billion daily video views. 80% of those are American. 59.8% of all content is “stupid face” videos (users aged 13-23 get sick of just sending selfies to each other, so they morph the image). The video can then be viewed for an exclusive 24-hour period.
While producers are certainly interested in Snapchatters who go viral and have huge followings, I can’t really see how an aspiring screenwriter would garner respect for their craft and long-form writing abilities by using this app.
Spelling and Grammar
Most of us use social media sites on our phones. Don’t use that as an excuse for typos and spelling errors. If you make a mistake, delete and repost. The entire point of your online presence is to convince producers that you are an educated, competent, knowledgeable, well-rounded screenwriter.
On each site there’s space at the top of your feed to write a few lines about yourself. Keep it concise, keep it simple. Research has found that most internet users don’t read more than the first four Google listings. This tells you that your profile should be in bullet points, and that only the first few lines will get read. Chose a few key facts that you want people to remember about you and write a logline about yourself for your profile.
I was surprised how many people consider doing this. They seem to consider themselves “more deserving of fame,” and feel that buying thousands of followers isn’t cheating; it’s just a sensible shortcut to fame and fortune for them.
Firstly, producers spend large amounts of their time reviewing figures and numbers. If they look at your content and it’s just not of the quality that warrants that volume of likes and follows you’re getting, they’re going to go with their gut instinct and assume you bought your way to those numbers.
Secondly, people who buy followers often get hacked. (Where do you think they get all those “real likes and follows from genuine accounts”?) Then you have to start over, while they use your old account to make more money from other suckers. How are you going to explain to producers that your old account is still active but they should look at this new one instead?
Producers need to know they can trust you. It’s better to build a slightly smaller community, one that’s loyal and genuine.
If you’re still finding your feet, and you’re not sure yet who you are as a writer, let alone how you should be marketing yourself, there are online communities such as Stage32 where aspiring creatives can support each other.
Best of luck creating your brand and marketing yourself as a screenwriter via your chosen online platforms.
Fin Wheeler is a member of the Australian Writers’ Guild and has a feature in development.