Social Networking Cooties: Put Your Pitch Back in Your Pants

Last Saturday, I attended the DIY Days conference, a gathering geared predominantly to filmmakers, but drawing folks from the “creative” community at-large. From the agenda, I saw there would be a lot of talk about Social Media. I unabashedly groove on Social Media, particularly social networking, and I planned to attend any session that had those words in the title, in the description, or even if the presenter was simply an active user on Twitter, because that’s just how I roll.

I arrived at the conference, on a sunny, NYC morning, ready for a love-fest among those who refer to themselves by their usernames and end their conversations in hashtags. I even had my Twitter username on my name tag.

I quickly discovered, as I casually hid my “Hello, my name is @KageyNYC,” that just because you’re “a creative,” doesn’t mean you’re automatically a social networking nerd. In fact, I was surprised by how much confusion, and even animosity, there was from a lot of attendees about how to build and maintain a following through social networking. A love-fest it was not, but it was definitely a learning experience.

At one session, an attendee expressed with great hostility that people on Twitter are liars (her word) and douchebags (my word, but it does sum up much of what she said).

Why would you think this? the session presenter asked her.  Because, she began, I signed up for Twitter to promote… She said a lot of things after that but my mind kept hearing those words over and over again: I signed up for Twitter to promote.

Whatever you’ve heard about Twitter or Facebook or YouTube being great tools for promoting your wares, feel free to throw all of that away. Attacking these sites as cheap and easy marketing channels is approaching them from completely the wrong angle. Instead of cheap and easy you’re going to get frustrating and useless.

photo  credit:  G & A Sattler

It’s called “social” for a reason. Have you ever walked into a party, not a networking event, a party, and handed out your brochure? Going into a social networking environment and thinking everyone is just there to be a receptacle for your pitch is the same thing. It’s all kinds of yuck and people are going to break out the Purell after they shake your hand.

So how do you begin?

Be a person first, a promoter second. If you can join Twitter or share videos or blog about your ideas before you’re ready to promote anything, do that right now. Work out the kinks, be brave and be friendly, all before you start telling people what you want them to do. Most people want to help someone they think is nice or interesting or funny, so be one of those. If you can combine two, you’ll be a hit.  If you’re all three, I might have some single friends for you.

A lot of people at DIY Days also asked what they should blog about or tweet. They didn’t want to tweet what they had for breakfast or post a Facebook status about their kid’s soccer game. So don’t. Oh please, don’t.

Share the passion that drives your pitch, but don’t start with the actual pitch. Not how you need to raise money, or sell your script or novel, or get butts in seats, but how you came to love film or literature or music. About what you’re reading that pisses you off. What you’re thinking that keeps you up late working on your craft. What you argue when you try to convince someone that a creative life is the greatest life there is.

Find people who get all hot-and-bothered about similar ideas. Listen and share. If you genuinely like them, you’ll find you’re quick to promote their projects when they coolly slide them into conversation. And if you drew them in with your personality, and didn’t scare them away with your marketing, they absolutely will do the same thing for you.