A new aspect of filmmaking has appeared over the past decade, personal branding. It is no longer enough just to make fabulous videos and tell beautiful stories, your digital presence can be a dealbreaker.
Some marketing gurus claim that Instagram is today’s digital portfolio for filmmakers, directors, photographers, and anyone who works in the visual arts.
So, as filmmakers, it’s important to learn how to curate a portfolio, build an audience, and attract new business and collaborate online.
One year ago, I created the community @filmmakersworld
. To date, we are at 50k followers. I want to share with you my experience and some of my best tips to build your Instagram presence.
1) Build Relationships
Key relationships are the best way to build growth on social media and as an individual. They are important not just in terms of contact quantity and quality, but also to build experiences and use as a comparison.
Social media is nothing more than the extension of real life; we have to take advantage of the broader opportunities that a digital life can offer us. Hopefully, and as soon as possible, they can transform into real and lasting relationships in real life.
Connect with as many people as you can, mostly related to your niche, maybe write and exchange experiences with them. Pay attention to what they post and how your worlds may overlap and then build on those moments. You will be amazed at how many opportunities can be born just by being open with people.
The Instagram platform is super crowded but there is still space show your vision and work. The best way to separate yourself is to be thoughtful and unique - and while creativity is key here, so is organization.
You have to have a plan before you start.
That being said, thoughtful and organized experimentation is an excellent plan! As long as your goal is to become focused at the end. Starting a path of experimentation is better than remaining motionless in theory.
I experimented with many different strategies and languages before finding a precise focus on Instagram and let then I let it fly.
3) Fake it Until You Make It
How can I do it? I don’t have a team that can shoot my photos and videos while I work! I can’t use photoshop!
The best answer here is to work as creatively as possible within your means. Necessity is the mother of invention!
A good way to get started is to “fake” a few shoots to start so you have a cache of images to build upon. Make an analysis of what you can do with your gear, rent a couple of things if you want/need to, grab friends, and then build a small set at home or go out in your city and take a few dozen shots of you and your equipment.
Now you have the beginning of an editorial plan.
4) Learn From the Best Players
It’s always good to take inspiration from the best players, but don’t copy what others do. Never do it, even in your filmmaker work. Draw from everyone, yes, but create your own style, you must be unique and recognizable to be noticed.
And don’t get stuck in comparing yourself to famous people - many have dedicated marketing teams and chances are they have been working on this for a long time and started out just like you. You are not like them and that’s OK. By worrying about it all you will do is lose a lot of time and take the enjoyment away from what you’re doing.
Here is a newer brand that I am following. They’ve grown quickly and I think it will keep growing. @michalbarok
This profile is very well cared for and follows the "needs" of a specific audience - filmmakers.
Here other profiles that should inspire you: @mattalonzo
I suggest you follow more than just filmmaker brands because there is so much inspiration and originality to learn from in other spaces. This profile @tanaka_tatsuya
, for example, is one of the best original profile on Instagram that inspires me every day.
5) Action: What to post, when to post, how often?
Once you've defined your focus and decided on the direction of the content you want to share, the real work begins!
First off, if you aren’t listed as a business profile, I suggest you make the switch. Access to insights/analytics can help you a lot in the profiling of your audience and understanding which posts perform better. You’ll have the information you need to experiment with timing and frequency so you can correct your direction as you need to.
Instagram, like all social networks, prefers very active people. The sum of all your profile actions (likes, comments, personal responses on posts and direct messages, the frequency of posts and story publication, correct use of hashtags) raises you up on the social network ranking. So, it’s important not only that you post regularly but to also interact every day with other profiles.
After several tests, I’ve found that our page @filmmakersworld
performs better if we post between 4 and 6 times a day. I know, it's very difficult, but it's the truth. This is a lot
of work, but the more you engage and strengthen an authentic link with your followers, the more your page will grow.
So, if you decide to start a journey on Instagram or on another digital platform, I suggest you post at least one excellent piece of content every three days to start and then build from there. More is better when possible.
6) How to Use Hashtags
When used correctly, hashtags are extremely useful for profiling your page. This site is a great tool
- it creates, from a key word, a pile of hashtags sorted by size and importance. And, of course, you’re following influences in your space (right?!), so you can see what hashtags they are using to help build your repertoire.
Experimenting with hashtags will help you to correctly index your page on the platform, find new followers, and expand your reach.
7) Take your time!
Don’t jump to the end right away - you won’t have tons of new jobs and 1000s of followers immediately. Focus on making your profile and your work reflect your personality, make people fall in love with your content, and everything else will come in time.
Always ask yourself: Would I follow this profile? What is the value? Is this content engaging?
I first started my account to create opportunities for myself, but my goal has changed now to encourage and stimulate the growth of nascent filmmakers. Every day I reply to dozens of direct messages and comments and share links and resources about filmmaking.
I always focus on my golden rule: to always create something of value for my followers.
A big hug from Italy