Creative media attracts creative folks. Filmmakers use social media to fund, create, and promote their films. But what about the people who train filmmakers? I chat with the National Screen Institute‘s Liz Hover about how her organization is using social media to reach Canada’s film community.
Erica: How’s social media working for NSI? Where have you guys been engaging people, and what’s the response level? I think of Winnipeg as having a pretty engaged film community (filmmakers, film studies students, arts groups, etc).
Liz: Social media has opened up a lot of doors for the National Screen Institute.
The internet has let us connect with people in very remote regions. People we might never get to meet otherwise.
Yes, we have a pretty engaged film community in Winnipeg but we’re a national training school so our focus has to be country-wide.
E: Stupid question, but how do you find interacting with your own friends on your NSI FB page? Since you can only post as “NSI LOGO!” and not Liz.
L: I’ve always believed that there is little difference between the ‘private’ me and the ‘public’ me. What you see is what you get. I do think, however, that Facebook should give us page admins the ability to post as individuals. After all, isn’t that the true essence of social media? Communicating as a human and not an anonymous voice behind a logo? Who would you rather engage with? A person or a pretty symbol?
My rule: don’t swear if I’m NSI’s logo talking
Just to clarify for anyone reading this: I think ‘social media’ is a bit of a silly term. I think we’re really talking about ’online communication’ or, the internet. Anywhere that communication is happening between two people or more.
NSI has a set of online tools which we use to open up dialogue with students, potential students, grads and a wider, more global audience with an interest in film, TV and digital media. These tools include our website (built by your husband, Kevin, [Ed: from Tactica] in fact) that has a year-round online film festival, blogs, audio and video interviews, training info and more. Facebook Connect was built into the site a couple of years ago so folks can sign in and comment using their Facebook account.
We do use Twitter and Facebook a lot.
In the past year we’ve run Facebook clinics using our fan page. It’s basically a live Q&A session with a training program manager and potential applicants hosted on our fan page. This has been brilliant and totally interactive and we have plans to do more and expand on this idea.
Twitter tends to be less interactive for us. I find I’m using it to share info with our 2,500 followers. There is less conversation.
We also have a YouTube channel which, again, tends to be more about sharing than a two-way dialogue. We have around 100 videos – including Brian Linehan interviews which are super popular. We also post highlights from some of our training. We’re the tenth most subscribed Canadian non-profit. Sounds impressive but I don’t think there are that many Canadian non-profits on YouTube. But we’re doing well: our videos have had 135,000+ total views. We’re part of the YouTube Non Profit Program which gives us greater branding options on our channel.
Erica: Jeez, Liz, take a breath. So, where do you think you’re getting the best response?
Liz: In terms of the overall response level I think Facebook is working the best for us. This doesn’t really surprise me. We have the highest level of engagement there.
Also our website traffic has grown since Kevin redeveloped our website several years ago and a lot of that is down to Facebook referral traffic. Facebook is our number one referring site.
Facebook has worked in a couple of different ways: I happen to be friends with a lot of the same people who are fans of NSI so our level of interaction goes way beyond someone just fanning our page.
I’ve played around with lots of different niche networking sites too but there’s a tendency to try to be everywhere and that’s just not practical. I’ve kept our focus on the sites where we know most people will be rather than trying to spread NSI too thinly. If you Google it, you’ll probably find lists of sites I’ve signed up to and abandoned.
A lot of online communication is about experimentation. There isn’t one formula for everyone. Fortunately I’m fairly adventurous and happen to have a dog who is willing to be my guinea pig for most of my work before I put it to use at NSI. True story.
Liz Hover is a Winnipeg web gal. You can follow her brilliance on Twitter or actually have her brilliance come to you.