Nicola Sinclair asks how cinemas can harness social media in a way that is secure, positive and authentic
Let’s face it, these are tough times for media. In the past year alone, News of the World imploded in the face of the phone hacking scandal. ITV broadcast videogame footage as supposed documentary evidence linking Gaddafi to the IRA. Several news sites posted the wrong verdict in the Amanda Knox trial.
Meanwhile, social media struggles to strike the right balance between free speech and responsible moderation; between protecting member privacy and monetising user data.
It’s a question both of authenticity and of ethics, and one that is leading a growing number of consumers to ask: what can we trust?
To those of us who favour the independent, the creative and the alternative, platforms such as Facebook seem to represent an almighty corporate machine: undiscerning, unfeeling and motivated purely by profit. In some respects that’s a fair assessment, but it’s also one that fails to recognise the very real opportunity that social media presents.
Consider for example the role of the internet in promoting social justice – most recently in the Tunisian Revolution.
For citizens, it’s democracy in action. For consumers, it’s a public voice.
So what is it for arts organisations and businesses? Quite simply, it’s a platform. “All the world’s a stage.”
Sound terrifying? Absolutely – but it’s also bristling with potential.
For example, SYLC.com is supporting Arenberg Film Centre’s campaign against closure – a campaign that has amassed 26,000 supporters and growing, excludingpaper signatories. Would that number have been anywhere near as high without ‘shares’, ‘diggs’, ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’?
Then there is the story of independent jewellery maker Stevie Koerner who this summer tweeted that Urban Outfitters had copied one of her necklace designs. Within 16 hours, the tweet had reached more than 650,000 people, Urban Outfitters’ shares had plummeted in the face of a boycott, and Stevie had notched up $36k worth of sales. Impressive, huh?
So, how can your cinema harness all that energy? And how can you protect your brand as you do so? I asked Ewan McIntosh, CEO of NoTosh and a prolific user of social media, to share some top tips.
First, three steps to get you on your way:
Now, how do you turn your followers into your biggest fans?
The biggest mistake businesses make is to broadcast to people, when they should be engaging them in conversation. Don’t just blandly tweet out press releases or screening times – share your thoughts, reply to queries and retweet others’ views. A recent study by White Fire asked twitter users why they stopped following an account: 58% blamed it on tweets that ‘seem automated’ and 34% because the person only tweeted about themselves.
If you try to maintain a tone of voice that’s ‘on brand’ followers will run a mile. Forget any ideas about corporate style guides – you’re independent, and that’s partly why your customers love you! Create a meaningful relationship by letting your own voice and personality shine through.
Strike a chord
The best way to get people to share your information online is to give them something funny, moving or inspiring. Essentially, it’s about striking a chord emotionally. The same survey quoted above found that interesting posts are more likely to be retweeted than posts by friends, posts by celebrities, posts with financial incentives or those with ‘Please RT’ at the end!
Don’t be cynical
It’s better to have 1,000 followers who are genuinely interested in your organisation than 10,000 who don’t give a hoot. Don’t employ cheap tricks in the hope of upping your numbers – study after study shows it’s ineffective and off-putting for your real fans. I blogged/ranted about this recently on my site.
Share, share, share
The internet is built on sharing. You rely on other people sharing your posts to generate traffic and interest, so make sure you return the favour. Retweet things you like, comment on people’s blogs and generally send out some good karma. It will come bouncing back to you!
Image from Maila in Wonderland on weheartit.com