Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Social Media Conudctor

As I write this, I'm waiting for the official announcement of the film schedule for the International Family Film Festival, where my documentary, "Bollywood Steps" will be screened.  It's empowering to have so many channels to send out information like this - vlogs, blogs, twitter, Facebook and the like.  The challenge, of course, is learning to use all of these tools together to achieve specific goals.

I was in the school orchestra only up to fifth grade, but I remain fascinated with the the frenetic, mysterious, raving gestures of the conductor, guiding dozens of individual musicians toward a uniform goal of creating beautiful music.   I'm equally fascinated with the truly effective "conductors" of the social media world - those individuals who are working to achieve specific goals, and are using all of the available outlets in concert to reach those goals.

If you follow Gary Vaynerchuk (author of social media's iconic book, "Crush It"),  you have noted his multi-tiered efforts to build excitement for his upcoming book, "The Thank You Economy."  In addition to simply reminding people that it's already available for pre-order, he's been engaging his followers by asking for promotional ideas, inviting them to small, randomly called chat sessions in the middle of the night, provided links to chapter previews, and, of course, constantly thanked his followers.   He's promoted the purchase of multiple copies of his new book, and even created limited-time incentives to encourage participation.  Vaynerchuk the "conductor" is leading his social media instruments toward something more inviting - sweeter music, one could say - than the hard sell.  While everything is aimed toward selling one specific product, his social media efforts are all about engagement.  

Personally, I'm intrigued with the challenge of creating such a campaign that might reach - and expand - the decidedly fringe-within-a-fringe audience to which this particular documentary appeals.   I'm also intrigued with the challenge of accomplishing all of this with a still very modest social media following.

I'm taping my conductor's baton on my virtual podium.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Okay, So I Didn't Post Every Day!

My intentions at the beginning of the year were to update at least one aspect of my social media landscape this year.  That didn't last too long!

What the exercise did accomplish, however, was to guide my thinking into an ever more constructive use of the tools available to me.  Part of that is time - it's been a year since I've started my dedicated social media adventure.  At the same time, my long-standing documentary project, "Bollywood Steps," is in the process of being released into the world.  A film festival next month will provide the ideal launching pad to promote the documentary.  Everything is converging.  Critical Mass, anyone?

If you've been watching my vlogs, I've spoken of my film on occasion, and I'm beginning to see the emergence of Bollywood Steps in the social media world.  It's a modest beginning, but it's what I've been hoping for all along  My press efforts for the film will also include my efforts as a vlogger.  The more I continue, the more I see a direct connection between the documentary world and the vlogging world, and I'm working on several fronts to expand my intentions to bring that concept to a wider audience.  I look forward to sharing some of those efforts shortly.

I'm also intrigued by the possibility of exploring aspects of the vlogging community in a future documentary.  More on those ideas later...

All told, I'm still fascinated with where this is all heading....I suppose you could say that while I'm not obsessed with using the tools, I kinda like what I'm building!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Present Is the Past

The ever-accelerating evolution of technology and social media has, I think, rendered contemporary novels set in the present instantly dated upon publication.  The expanding use of smart phones, Twitter, Facebook, and even tablet computers make even the most recent novels seem almost quaint. 

I first took note of this phenomenon in Stephen King's 2009 novel, "Under the Dome" about a New England town suddenly and mysteriously cut off from the rest of the world by a huge invisibly and impenetrable dome.  While the residents of the town were able to access the internet, the story included a sub-plot involving a small town newspaper and efforts of the powers in charge to put it out of business.  The publisher/editor of the newspaper, we learn, stubbornly (and conveniently) refuses to go online with the publication - even when she's trying to communicate important news to the stranded residents. In this day and age, her attitude seems nothing but contrived for dramatic purposes.

I'm currently reading "Skippy Dies," a darkly subversive novel set in a contemporary Irish boy's school.  While I can't claim even the most basic knowledge of Irish school life, I can't help but wonder about the underlying social media fabric that would run through this story in reality, but is virtually ignored here.  I'm absolutely enjoying the book, but I'm still curious about the extra dimension social media would add to the story.

Of course, novels by their nature aren't produced instantly, and the nature of social technology is such that even a a novel written to today's reality will already be dated a couple of years down the line. For years, cell phones have caused countless headaches for writers of contemporary thrillers, as placing someone in peril is a bit tricky if they can instantly call for help.

Creating fiction reflective of our world, at least in a technological sense, is becoming ever more elusive. At least for me, it's also a reminder, I think, of the exciting fundamental changes in our social and technological lives.