Your digital story requires you to implement a social media strategy for a small production project, based on all the social media you have experimented with during the earlier phases of the course.
From the perspective of the media production discipline, social media is ‘triple-aspected’:
- a professional networking tool. It establishes your credibility within a specific range of expertise, and it builds up a network of contacts within that professional field.
- a tool to market media projects.
- an emerging platform in which media projects, or aspects of cross-platform media projects, natively reside.
Ideally, your use of social media will represent a cross-fertilisation of all these ambitions. Media is convergent – by using social media you market yourself and the project, while also presenting the project (linking or embedding it).
Some approaches to social media by professional media productions:
Some inter-related decisions
Hopefully, you have already established your use of social media on a more professional footing. No more silly facebook party shots, or meaningless tweets. The next phase of your increasing sophistication is to be more holistic and consistent about your communications strategy. Decide your areas of interest, and develop a mode of expression. Jokey and informal is fine – it’s the fastest way to get retweeted. Good tweets aren’t dashed off, they are crafted.
- What is your content area? social media content
- Design decisions are an important part of some forms of social media, such as a blog social media design tools
- What stylistic devices will you employ? (Writing style, use of imagery or other rich media such as podcasting) writing for social media
- How do you make your social media ‘interoperable’, searchable and hypertextual, to take advantage of the programmed and networked affordances of the Web? Hootsuite interoperability
Social media is authored.
The authorship of social media is more direct and obvious than any other form of media. Impersonal, ‘branded’ tweets and blogs are not, in my opinion, as powerful as ones which are owned by named, concrete individuals. That is why your every tweet is self-promotional, regardless of what it is about. So while we can separate various ambitions, it is more successful if you keep your social media personal.
Your personal approach needs to be balanced with privacy concerns. Don’t publish your address online – nowhere! But more subtly, carefully consider what you are comfortable with strangers knowing about you. Be wary of responding to emails, etc, if you don’t know where they come from. Your LinkedIn cv may not contain every little thing you’ve done – be judicous. On the other hand, if it is too ‘bare’ it will not be impressive. You need to balance the need to communicate authentically and interestingly with your audience and protection of your privacy.
So… where are you at?
You are hopefully now quite advanced with your own personal social media ‘brand’. You should be extending your existing networks into professional or academic areas. You should be developing strategies concerning the content, style, and timing of various social media activities. You should be developing a ‘voice’ or persona which aims to attract a specific networked cohort. You will know how to build network via targeted Tweets, joining interest groups, etc (eg, surrounding an Instagram hashtag, or a Pinterest curation). You should be integrating your social media so it cross-populates, include social media it in your email signature, and understand how to use it efficiently (for example, using scheduling in Hootsuite). You are developing a public professional cv (LinkedIn) and show reel (flavors.me).
Social media is, ultimately, a life-style choice. It cannot be ‘set and forget’.
Social media and media productions
In order to develop a social media strategy for a media production, you need to:
- Research – use your RSS feeds and hashtags to find out what is already going on about the topic of your production. This could be discussion themes, or user groups surrounding your theme, or fan fiction sites. Develop a tagging strategy – making your social media searchable through the use of hashtags (Twitter, Instagram) and tags (blog). Work out pre-existing tags and make use of them.
- Establish interoperability – the use of blog widgets, an aggregator tool such as Hootsuite, visual organisers such as flavors.me, to interconnect all your social media activity, and make it accessible
- Practice networked creativity – experiment with social platforms that encourage creative expression and the development of an audience (Cowbird, Instagram, SoundCloud – depending on your medium)
- Audience / peer development – find contacts through social media, for example via more sophisticated use of Twitter. Work out who the ‘opinion leaders’ are for specific hashtags and @tweet them.
- understand the politics of social media – issues of copyright, privacy and data
- Synchronous versus asynchronous communication – different strategies and appropriate for different types of communications and audiences.
So… what are the implications for your digital story social media strategy?
Ultimately, you should not try to separate it from your online presence. ‘Own’ it as your work. You need your friends to get involved. Consider:
- What is the relationship between the social media and the other media you have created for the project?
- How are they interconnected (can audiences progress from one to the other)?
- What is the purpose of the social media (is it marketing, or does the other media natively reside within the social media, or – ideally – both?)
- How does your social media campaign unfold over time? (are you using a scheduling tool?)
- How significant are your networks within social media?
- Are you using tags or hashtag to build the networks, and attract ‘randoms’?
- Does the project have a clear visual design?
- Does the project have a taglines, hooks, or other clever textual strategies to attract an audience?
- Can audiences ‘join in’ through social media?
Answers to these questions should be part of your digital story proposal.