Social media can turn into a time consuming rabbit hole, or it can be a valuable asset, depending on how you choose to use it. This week we are looking at a question about whether or not to use social media as a filmmaker and what you should be talking about.
STUDENT QUESTION: As a filmmaker, should I be using social media, and what should I be talking about?
JOHN-CLAY: I would say that social media is helpful for filmmakers.
I’ll start with dangers of social media. One, it can become a huge time suck and you can start wondering what everybody else in the world is doing, and then you see other cool things people are doing, and then thinking that what you’re doing is not nearly as cool, and then become very depressed. So that’s a bad use of it for filmmakers. But that’s not really a film problem, that’s a personal problem. We need to understand that most of what people post on social media is highly curated and made to look cool, and they’re only going to post the cool stuff, and everybody is real and normal just like everybody else. And they just want to share things that they feel are exciting, or they’re trying to fill voids in their life and that’s their deal. But that doesn’t mean that it should be completely avoided. I am very careful with Facebook. You can friend someone and not necessarily follow everything they post.
There’s a lot of control, even on Instagram, for what people’s stories you see, whether you see stuff in your feed, whether you just want to be connected with them. So I would say take control of it. Use it, don’t let it use you. I heard a marketing professional say one time at the Christian Worldview Film Festival that social media is the new Roman road, meaning that it connects communication and people’s ability to see each other and communicate with other people like nothing else before it. So it’s unprecedented in its ability to connect you with other people.
Facebook groups are phenomenal and have better curated results in searching things. I’m looking at buying hard drives, I go search your Facebook group and get better results and feedback than I do just general Google searches. It’s different. It’s more personal; from people in my industry, in my field, and their results and advice. So it’s very, very helpful from that perspective.
It’s also a great place to share whatever it is you’re doing and what you’re working on to help other people see. People work with those that they know, like and trust. I do take time to get on social media, and to follow specific people, and to comment, and share and encourage them to comment so that they don’t forget about me. It is a helpful way to stay on their radar. I do that very intentionally. Not because I necessarily just want work. I’m here to serve and help people, and just enjoy friendships.
It’s great. I have a business page. It’s good to have a business page to show and share your work. I have more stuff on my website than I do my social media, but it’s just easy for people to find me, they message me through there. Some people don’t text, but they Facebook message. Who knew? Some people Instagram direct message more than they do any of the other things. Who knew? I just want to be available at whatever outpoint people want to be contacting other people. I want to be available there and easy to reach. I’m on LinkedIn. I have actually had business inquiries through LinkedIn. I’m on Vimeo. I have had business transacted through Vimeo messages. That’s not seen as a social channel, but check your Vimeo messages if you haven’t in a while. I would say be out there, be available. The people that you want to work with, find out where they’re at and be there and be present.
People will all tell you, you should be posting every day, every week or whatever it is. Make it easy for you, share your life, be real. And I think that’s helpful and attractive to people that are looking for people to work with. Share advice. When people have questions, try to provide answers, be helpful, and share in that way. Don’t pretend that you know things you don’t. I’m not saying be pretentious, but answer the questions you can, when you have experience.
And if you don’t have any an experience, learn. Learn while you’re there. I love reading through when people are talking about new lights for their cameras, or lenses. Lenses are a huge deal, and this is a great way to learn about those things and see what people are using. And then they share images or videos you can then link to and get tests from. And it was really fun the other day, I saw something actually on a Thursday night football thing. And the production company that made it had posted on Instagram, and they were posting behind the scenes of how they had made this thing and I was like, oh, I actually saw that before. So it’s a great way to learn.
Again, use it wisely, as with anything. It does not replace face to face. I still go to events. I still go see my family in person. I still spend time with my personal family. I still go to church. And so those real life social interactions do not get replaced. But it is a way to expand beyond that when you’re looking to serve people and make films for people beyond the immediate folks you know. I don’t know if a lot of the people in my immediate circles are looking for videos that I make. And so, I’m looking for people outside of those circles.
But as my wife and I have both discussed, there can also be discouraging, or depressing. So sometimes you need to curate it. Sometimes it’s time to let some friends go, or turn off some follows. That’s fine. You can’t overcrowd your life either. And so, it’s just an ongoing balancing act, really. But it can be very helpful. I highly encourage it. Use it wisely. Take time off. You don’t have to be on it for the whole time. Do what works for you. But I do think there’s value in being there.