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Issue: February 1, 2012

Getting Engaged With Social Media

By: Randi Altman
There is no more denying. There is no more avoiding. While some went kicking and screaming into the world of social networking, most have gotten past the gratuitous sharing (you got new shoes? awesome) and found the real value.

Our very international industry has embraced social networks — it keeps us closer, it keeps us smarter, it keeps us debating (hello, Final Cut Pro X). Whether using it as a marketing tool to share your work or as a way to help build community, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more are here to stay.

CLICK 3X

Not only does NYC-based creative studio Click 3X believe in the value of social media, they have taken it to another level, leveraging their work creating Facebook and mobile apps for clients and applying them to the company’s business model.

“Social media is our primary marketing method,” explains president/partner Peter Corbett. “Part of what we do is interactive campaigns for clients, so we have a whole development team doing these apps. Being able to go cross platform with iOS (an advance mobile platform) is a big issue for us, as is social media. We do Twitter APIs and Instagram APIs for our clients, and we are able to use the technology for ourselves as well.”

In 2011, Click built a “share” function into every video on its Website (www.click3x.com), allowing people to share these on their Facebook page, Twitter feed or other social media networks. “Part of the goal is to make our three Websites — ClickFire Media, our interactive division; the Click 3X flagship site; and Click 3X Entertainment — stronger,” says Corbett (pictured below).

Click also relaunched click3x.com with a new search function, it’s called deep linking, which means each section of the Click site has its own URL.

If you visit Click’s Facebook page, you can’t help but notice its heft, so to speak. Click has found a way to link all of its offerings together by repurposing the work of ClickFire Media.

Click has a good number of likes (over 3,000 as I type) on Facebook, and are engaged to the point where they get as much, and sometimes more, traffic than their Websites. “If you click on Our Work, for example, you access that work on a special app that we built,” explains Corbett. “We also have an iOS HTML 5 version of that, so if you are accessing the Click Facebook page on an iPad it defaults to a different technology so you can still see the work — it senses what platform you are viewing on.”

Down the left site of their Facebook page, there is a list of options for visitors to choose from. After Our Work, there is Clickfeed, which feeds the Click blog into Facebook. The next one down is NewsFeed, using a technology called Postano, which aggregates all of the studio’s social media feeds, such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, into a common site that is updated every 15 minutes. Click pays a monthly fee for this service, which Corbett calls “an interesting way of having a dashboard of all your social media.”

A few lines after NewsFeed is Twitter, and thanks to the work of their development team they feed that into their Facebook page. As of press time, they have over 2,300 followers. “It’s a bit of a showcase for clients in that area,” reports Corbett. “It’s good for us to be able to demonstrate that we can create these APIs.”

Click has different policies for each of their social media efforts. “For example, a blog can be a thought piece that is different from news, where you will find interesting tidbits and interviews with staff. It’s really under the category of ‘thought leadership,’ so we try to drive thinking into the blog side. On the Twitter side, we’ll run stories, but Twitter works better if you send out interesting tweets rather than, ‘Here is our latest project.’”

Click has many individual Twitter feeds. “I have one and several people here have one, and we have a person who aggregates any interesting individual feeds and retweets them into Click 3X, so we are sending out seven or eight tweets a day on various things. These are about the industry, not tooting our own horn.”

Corbett considers Facebook the Click community page, where you can find “embarrassing party pictures and birthday celebrations” along with stories of notable new work. “This is not about thought leadership, it’s more about Click as a community; it allows people to feel like they are part of it.”

Something you might see more of from Click in 2012 are live Webcasts. They did two live streaming sessions last year, and this content now lives on the studio’s social media outposts.

What will the new year bring? “We are going to take a more serious look at Tumblr, which is becoming one of the most visited sites out there,” says Corbett. “We are already on Google Plus, but we don’t see a lot going on over there right now. One of the tricks with social media is you have to keep looking at what the next platform is.” So time will tell.

THE NOW CORPORATION

Owen Plotkin, president of NYC-based The Now Corporation, has long been a believer in the power of the Internet, going back to 1994 when he was taking multimedia courses at NYU. “I started making Websites before anyone in our business had them,” he reports.

The Now Corporation (www.thenowcorporation.com), which opened its doors in 2002 as an editorial boutique focusing on television spots, has steadily seen an increase in Web content work. As that trend evolved, so did their business. “The technology has changed so much, it seems like now you can do almost anything at one workstation,” says Plotkin. “So now we are not just an editorial boutique, we are a post production boutique.”

Plotkin, a YouTube partner and Facebook developer, sees social sites as a sales tool for those who are selling a product, but for his business it’s more about branding and networking. “It also makes all of us better collaborators. It allows us to experiment with ways to reach people. All of these social networks have tools to show you how your content is being accepted. People come to us to make viral videos (and other content for the Web), it’s good to know what works and what doesn’t. A lot of our content has millions of views because of the little tricks we have learned over the years.” But the biggest trick? Good content, he says. “The rest will come easily.”

In addition to YouTube and Facebook, Now embraces Google Plus, Twitter and Tumblr. Each one of these platforms holds a different purpose for the studio.

When Plotkin joined Facebook in ‘06, he signed up as a developer. This got him (and anyone who is interested) access to their tools, which allow you to build either simple or complicated apps for your page. “It’s pretty easy if you know a little about programming. I am not a programmer, but I’ve been writing HTML since ’95. I’ve been a quick study, but you could really pimp your Facebook page pretty easily.”

Plotkin believes that Facebook is king right now, but he loves Tumblr for reaching young people. “You don’t hear people talking about it in the broader media much; it’s basically a blogging platform, but it seems to have a captive audience of tweens and teens. It has a cool interface that’s really fast and nice built-in tools.”

Some content Now shares on Tumblr gets hooked into the studio’s Twitter feed, so cross posting these things is important to them. “I do curate differently for Tumblr than I do for Twitter and Facebook,” he says.”They all have slightly different purposes and audiences. Some stuff is posted everywhere and other things are more specific.” He says many agencies have Tumblrs, as well as design companies. “They have to be in that space, and every space possible.”

Plotkin loves Twitter, and follows many in advertising and design. “There are a lot of great creative directors and directors on Twitter. Instead of having to follow their blogs, like a couple of years ago, I am on their feed and read the link to their latest posting. It’s also a cool way to let creative people in entertainment stumble across things and find out what people are doing. I tend to post granular, techy, snarky comments; other times it’s news about what we have been doing lately or I use it as a personal sounding board about media in general.”

On Facebook, Now tends to post stuff that appeals to their many likers (almost 4,000 at press time). “Many are college kids and teens, so we post skateboard videos and cool content we are involved with. Our homepage is where we expect agencies to find nuts and bolts like our reel.”

Plotkin sums up by reiterating the importance of social media to his business. “It allows us to talk about the same things our customers deal with every day. And it’s something that enhances our image about being savvy in media, not just broadcast media, you have to be experts in all media.”

BISCARDI CREATIVE MEDIA


For Walter Biscardi, Jr. of Biscardi Creative Media (www.biscardicreative.com), using social networking sites means starting, and becoming part of, a discussion. While he acknowledges this engagement also propels his business, he insists it’s not his main goal.

“We do use social media for marketing, we have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, and we let folks know when we have shows coming up. In fact, we have an original series airing on PBS now, called This American Land. Everybody is using it for marketing, but I really like it for discussion.”

Thanks to Twitter, @walterbiscardi has become someone people look to for advice on tools and technology. When Apple introduced Final Cut X, he was in the middle of that discussion, picking up, he says, 1,500 followers in a week.

Why do that many people (almost 3,000 at press time) care what Biscardi says? Because he’s not a mouthpiece for anyone other than himself, and he needs tools that work in order to make his business successful, he’s blunt and he pushes manufacturers to do better. “I have always been very honest, especially with reviews. If I like a product I will tell you I like the product. I test the heck out of it and try to break it, and sometimes I do break it. The cool thing about breaking stuff is when you start dealing directly with the company you improve things.”

Biscardi (pictured) begrudgingly acknowledges his role out there in the Twitterverse. “I get the word out on stuff, so I guess I am considered an expert, especially with Final Cut Pro. It’s really about staying relevant in social media, primarily Twitter. At first I hated it because I didn’t think you could have a conversation in under 40 characters, but you learn how to do it. You can talk directly to people; it’s immediate, and I try to respond to everyone who reaches out to me.”

And it’s not always a nice conversation, he says, referring again to the Final Cut X debate. “Some people are just blinded (we call them fanboys and fangirls) that it has to be this way. I was against FCP X, and I am still not a fan, but it was very interesting to have that discussion back and forth with no filters. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes you have to just say, we can’t continue this conversation anymore.”

Regardless of the topic, Biscardi loves Twitter and points to having friends all over the world that he’s never met.

And talking directly to people has helped Biscardi Creative Media. “I find that people want to work with companies who know what they are doing. I use social media to generate discussions about hardware and technology, where we are going, the art of running a business — how do you even start a production company or facility these days?” he asks. “The game just keeps changing, so I use social media to discuss — and some like what I say and some hate what I say, but for the most part they enjoy their discussions with me. I get lots of emails asking for advice, wanting to schedule time to come in and meet with us to talk about projects because I’ve built up a reputation of someone who knows what he is doing, especially when it comes to post production. I am willing to take chances, and I don’t go with the flow very often. I tend to strike my own path, and that’s how I run my company.”

The company he speaks of lives in a new 6,000-square-foot facility near Atlanta. This turnkey production company offers script-to-screen services and is gravitating to being a content provider.  It offers nine edit suites (a combination of Premiere and Media Composer), 5.1 sound design, a DaVinci color suite (with an eye on adding Speedgrade when Adobe releases that), there is studio space, office space, a big conference room, graphics, animation and DVD and Blu-ray services.

Why the expansion into content provider? “These days anybody and their brother could offer post services anywhere, so you differentiate yourself. People keep saying, ‘in this economy,’ Well, this is what you have to get used to because it’s going to be around for a while, so if you can’t make it in this economy today you’re screwed for the future. I am using Twitter and social media for now, promoting that, and as we make that move we will launch Twitter accounts, Websites and Facebook pages for all of these new shows.”

Biscardi is also active on LinkedIn, Adobe and Avid forums, the Georgia Production Partnership, and even created Atlanta Cutters, the new Atlanta Post Production User Group. “With social media you have to carpet bomb for lack of a better term. You can’t just go with one.”

He says it’s all about sharing information. “Don’t slam people, just share information and make the industry, and world, a better place.”