Here are some things you can do to integrate a social media component in your distribution effort.
1. Get your own web site with integrated blogging functionality if you don’t already have one. If your current site does not have a blog, add one. The easy way to get started is to get a blog on WordPress.com (it’s free) and you can get your own domain name for the site so your web site will be yoursitename.com rather than yoursitename.wordpress.com. The book WordPress for Dummies provides a good guide if you want to get hands on with the experience of creating your own site, or find a recent design school graduate who knows WordPress to build the site for you on a unix hosting provider like pair networks. And by all means have a trailer and sample clips of your documentary available on your web site. blip.tv or Vimeo are good places to host high-quality video, while YouTube provides the largest potential audience.
2. Start Twittering, you will find that The Twitter Book by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein is a good introduction if you need one.
3. If you’re not already on D-Word, you should join the community now. Get involved in discussion with your peers. Another good community is doculink. For technically minded folks, you’ll find DVinfo.net quite useful.
4. Get involved with a regional media arts organization. For example, Boston has the
Center for Independent Documentary and Filmmakers Collaborative, which provide networking opportunities and wonderful events, for example, on Saturday, November 7, 2009, Filmmakers Collaborative will be presenting Social Media Boot Camp for Film Professionals at MassArt, an excellent way to jump start your involvement in social media.
5. Read Fans, Friends & Followers: Building an Audience and a Creative Career in the Digital Age by Scott Kirsner, a timely book that’s chock full of case studies.
6. Read Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, it’s not exactly about self-distribution but provides some valuable insights into how to best go about developing your online persona. On a related topic, there is also Chris Brogan’s Personal Branding for the Business Professional (PDF download), a free e-book on building your personal brand.
7. Some documentary filmmakers have found Facebook a very effective place to communicate with their fans.
There are many more things you can do, but this quick list constitutes a good start in adding a social media component to your self-distribution efforts. A related post on this blog, Distribution in the Digital Age might also be of interest. The DIYDays conferences and the Workbook Project are excellent resources for more information.
Thanks for mentioning the workshop, David!
Lot”™s of great links and recommendations listed here too. After going through all of these, anyone would be well on their way to building a solid online presence.
I completely agree with your choice of video sites and books ”” particularly the WordPress for Dummies and O”™Reilly Twitter books, since those topics tend to be flooded with information that can be both intimidating and misleading to newcomers.