The ROI of Social Media

I’ve been bogged down with work for the whole of last week and it’s been a craaazy week but I’m getting back on track again with editing the documentary, and it’s almost done now, so YAY!

But doing this course has been really interesting, and I like that I can learn things from my subjects and tie them in together… for one of my other assignments I’m focusing on social media, and came across this video by socialnomics09 about the ROI of Social Media and it’s really interesting to look at all these numbers and realize the effectiveness of social media in terms of marketing anything and everything globally and getting very good returns!

Social media is good for marketing and all… but what about using social media to generate awareness in social issues?

I was interested in looking at how social media could be used in addressing problems affecting youths, and considering youths are one of the heaviest online and social media users, it would be more effective to target them online instead of using traditional media like ads

If you’ve heard of TWLOHA, you’ll realize the capability of social media in spreading awareness. TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms) is an American-based nonprofit organisation aimed at spreading awareness about depression and suicide, and since its conception in 2006, TWLOHA has spread globally and helped thousands of people get help and stay alive by bridging the gap between traditional means of getting help (therapy, hopelines, etc.) and the people who need help. They don’t try to give you information about depression; rather, they are there to show you that they understand and know what you’re going through, and assuring you that as much as pain is real, hope and help is real as well (TWLOHA’s vision).

One of the more interesting aspects about TWLOHA and how they grew is the fact that they did so through community and participation, as well as social media, and as such is viewed more as a grassroots movement instead of some charity organisation. A sort of community was formed in the sense that anyone who knew about them were not only sufferers but also people affected by sufferers (friends..family..) and supporters of their cause – and their cause was spread through social media, word of mouth, and merchandise… but most importantly, their supporters became their “brand advocates” by supporting and promoting TWLOHA widely among their own networks and communities. TWLOHA was also heavily supported by popular bands in the U.S. who would wear their merch and from there, spread the word of TWLOHA to their fans… TWLOHA then became topics of interest in band forums, and their fans quickly became supporters of TWLOHA as well… and I guess in a way I’m becoming TWLOHA’s advocate as well, by spreading their cause to you, my readers, through social media such as this blog, and my Facebook and Twitter.

So I thought it would be really interesting to see how social media could be used to spread awareness on other youth problems such as mental health and substance abuse among youths.

Also… if you’re interested in supporting TWLOHA or other great causes, you should check out SocialVibe as well. It’s a social media and a community aimed at connecting people with charity organisations to generate attention to worthy causes and also to help raise money through donations that YOU help raise by spreading the word to your networks :)

Music recommendation & Youtube

I previously came across an article about research conducted by Gartner (an IT research firm) on how UK consumers find music online, where they found that word-of-mouth recommendations is the most powerful way of driving consumers to purchase music. One of the key points the article pointed out was the need for download services and labels to form partnerships with social networking sites.

From the article:

The key is those ‘click to purchase’ links, and while it sounds obvious that consumers are more likely to purchase if there are fewer steps in the discovery/purchase process, these links are not as ubiquitous as they should be. That counts for the desktop and for mobile. Against a background of unreliable ad revenue, social networking sites need to increase opportunities for users to buy music they are sharing.

Labels also need to keep exploring social networking tools that help them tap the interest and trends of content sharing and the discussion around that sharing, particularly around streaming.

It’s pretty interesting… and I think it kind of taps into social networking sites as grounds for social capital …

I’m anticipating far more creative options for location-tagged music, so a certain location like a bar or gig venue would alert music fans to new tracks related to that venue, possibly those left ‘tagged’ by your friends. And then a handy click to buy bit.ly link when your phone accesses that recommendation…

Also more recently, an article on Lady Gaga & her using social media to gain popularity

The hot topic of the conversation was YouTube and Twitter. Carter said openly that he and Lady Gaga “create music videos for YouTube.” Braun agreed with Carter, saying that Bieber represented a new strategy of creating a breakout teenage star. Braun said that previously teenage music stars has to have a show on Nickelodeon or Disney. But Bieber changed this; he was found on YouTube and his first videos singing Aretha Franklin’s Respect saw 55 million views by the time the artist signed a record deal with Universal Music. He ended up going Platinum shortly after

Gaga originally broke out on YouTube and MySpace Music (which Braun was quick to say is dead)…

And what about Twitter? Both managers said that Twitter is a great way to connect with fans, especially for artists who were discovered by fans on YouTube. Twitter breaks down the layers between the artists and the fan, says Carter. Braun says that Bieber loves talking to his fans over Twitter (perhaps that’s why he’s always a trending topic!).

I guess it comes to no surprise that Twitter and Youtube are fast becoming starting platforms for hopeful singers who want to break into the industry, hoping that some music producer will chance upon a video of themselves singing at their best and sign them up for a record label. Chances are slim for many, but if you’re lucky you actually get spotted and picked up! But mostly, I’ve seen many YouTube singers get started on their own by gaining popularity on YouTube before going on to becoming independent musicians making CDs and selling them to their fans.

YouTube, of course, saw this as a big opportunity for them, and in March this year announced a plan to entice independent musicians to share ad revenues (read the article here) dubbed “Musicians Wanted”.

YouTube’s also been a tool used to publish videos on ChatRoulette, further propelling the viral effect that’s been the driving force behind CR, which in turn is also being used to create viral ads – have you seen the Lady Gaga “Telephone” video on CR? Or the piano improv guy? They’re all quite hilarious so you should go have a look… to relieve some stress haha! ;)

Documentary websites

Was browsing online for documentaries, and found some websites that compiles docos, so if you’re free you should have a look at some of the docos!

Indietalk.com – a filmmaking community

Documentary-film Network

4Docs

I’ve got most of my interviews done now, and I’m just beginning on post-production now. The hard part with interviewing people is setting a date for the interview. So far, one of the bands I was going to interview have kind of backed out because they’re having some conflicts within the group, and another interviewee is sick so the interview has been postponed until late next week (!!), and I’ve also managed to lose one release form on my way back from an interview :( Thanks to the wonders of technology I will be getting the release form emailed back to me haha.

I now have more than 30 minutes worth of interview material to crop and edit, and a lot of planning to do in terms of deciding what audio goes where and what pictures to put in and what footage to include. But at least I know the structure I want in my doco and so hopefully it will all just fit into place from there.

Other than that, I find it hard not to sympathize with Bruce, the previous owner of the Tote, who I just interviewed recently, because as I was having a chat with him after the interview I found out the extent of his debts after the closing of the Tote. It’s really quite sad finding out about him going through so much right now, and even listening to him talking about his ordeal when he was forced to make the decision to shut down the Tote due to financial insufficiencies made me really want to reach out to him. This part of the interview, where Bruce talks about what he went through that rough week, will no doubt reach out to the audience as well.

I guess that’s the hardest part of doing a documentary – hearing people speak about the reality of their lives from their perspective, and seeing the truth behind a situation from someone can really move you and change the way you think and feel about something. And that’s really why I want to do this documentary. Although it’s not really about Bruce or about the Tote, it just goes to show how you don’t know everything about an issue until you really talk to someone who’s been greatly affected by it. In terms of SLAM and the LLV laws, all we knew from the media was the music community as a whole and the music venues closing down. We only knew about the issue and the conflict affecting a whole community, and didn’t know the extent to which it affected one person’s life. Multiply that by, I don’t know, twenty other owners of music venues affected by the laws, and then you really start to really just how many peoples’ lives are really affected by this issue.

My argument

STRUCTURE

Introduction
—-Community - introduce the independent music community which formed SLAM
—-Issue - introduction to the LLV laws (from Bek – SLAM/Music Victoria rep) and its consequences on music venues (from Bruce Milne, previous owner of the Tote)

Body
—-Exploration - more info on LLV laws & how it became the catalyst for forming SLAM (Bek)
—-Story – importance of music venues for independent musicians (Lionel Kho, music organiser; Kevin Teh, independent musician)
—-Conflict - negative consequences on music venues & reasons as to why law is unreasonable or doesn’t take into consideration music venues & its importance, e.g. the Tote (Bek, Bruce)
—-Characters/Interview – some info on Tote rally (Bruce), the SLAM rally (Bek, Bruce, Kevin) & community (Kevin, Bruce, other musicians + SLAM protesters), footage from SLAM rally (showing protesters, speech)
—-Places/Description – the Tote (Bruce, pictures), and other music venues (Bek)

Conclusion
—-Assessment - …has really brought the music community together to ‘defend’ their culture and ‘survival’ (Kevin, Bruce)
—-Future - the petition being handed in recently, recent successful reviews/assessments for some music venues, hopes for further amendments in law for music venues (Bek)

overall structure: the new liquor licensing laws (what they are), its consequences on music venues in Melbourne (how it’s affecting them, why they are important), how it has brought the music community together for one cause

VOICE

sympathetic, and so far my interviewee’s answers are contributing well towards this tone.

RHETORIC

I’ll be letting my interviewees / characters speak for themselves, from their point of view, instead of directly asking them questions to answer, so they have been free to talk about issues based on what I’ve asked them to talk about e.g. the laws, the consequences, the rally, the community, etc. With all my interviewees so far, I feel like they have effectively conveyed their feelings and thoughts that will lead towards the audience feeling sympathetic towards the community and issue at hand. I will not be interviewing anyone who doesn’t hold the same opinion (i.e. noone from e.g. LLV).

USE OF INTERVIEWS

I will be taking snippets of speech from my interviewees’ responses, and putting them into different parts of the documentary based on where it fits in with the structure.

Looking at more documentaries

Was simply looking at how to make documentaries online, and came across this article which was quite useful in terms of setting the groundworks on what to do in making a documentary. Taking just the main and relevant points from the article, it sets out steps, i.e.:
  1. Watch documentary movies. Learn what makes or breaks a documentary film.
  2. Become familiar with technical equipment.
  3. Choose a subject that you find fascinating and is accessible to you. Choosing a subject that is compelling & timely will result in a strong and relevant film.
  4. Become an expert on your chosen subject through research. Research your subject as thoroughly as possible.
  5. Create a structure/outline for your film through visualization. Write down your ideas. This will give you a blueprint for shooting. But remember that in documentary filmmaking, unlike fictional filmmaking, the footage informs the final structure of the film. Your initial written outline exists to serve as a guideline for shooting.
  6. Analyze your wants/needs for making the film. Make a wishlist of any people, locations, items, equipment you WISH you could have for your film. Cross-reference this list with any people, locations, items and equipment that you do have access to.
  7. Shoot! Don’t talk about doing it – get out there and shoot your film. This is the step that differentiates the aspiring filmmakers from the actual filmmakers.
  8. Post-production. Fast forward through all of your footage, and take printable screenshots of key scenes. This way you simplify the editing process by creating a visual map of your footage. Once this is done you should watch ALL of your footage and create an action log listing timestamps. This will help you to save time in the editing room.
  9. Show your film! Upload it to the internet, four-wall it in a theatre, send the cut to distributors/networks to see if they are interested, hit the festival circuit. You can apply to multiple film festivals at once through the website Withoutabox.

(main article)

I think this is pretty useful, especially in terms of post-production where it says to look at the footage and take screenshots of key scenes. I guess I can’t do that with my interview footage, but I can take notes of which chunks of answers can go where in my doco structure, and decide where to snip parts of the videos.

Also browsed through some interesting documentaries focusing on communities, such as this one on the LGBT community by the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities by the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities, and this one on Community Models in Correction sponsored by the Community Model Association  of America.

I liked the way the LGBT community documentary started, though it may not be useful for my own doco. It starts with a sort of introduction to all these community members, where they introduce themselves – there are transsexuals, transvestites, bisexuals, homosexuals, hermaphrodites… – and then goes on to a title screen, and then to a campaign worker introducing issues in the community e.g. prejudice, substance abuse, mental health, etc.

While looking at the doco, I noted down how the interviewees were filmed in terms of the distance, setting, eye contact (to the camera? to the side?), position, lighting, and also to the background music that was playing (some jazzy tune?) and the aesthetics of the text (some animation and then some text) and the use of only the first names for each interviewee’s title.

For the correction models doco, each interviewee was named in full, with their position/rank in the corrections center in full as well, along with their number of years in experience. The music was a bit solemn (piano music) and there were a lot of footage of the inside of the corrections facility showing the officers’ ‘daily routine’, in a way. This doco started with introductory text instead of a voice over, but both this one and the LGBT doco included statistics in their documentaries. But the corrections facility one included some subtitles stating, or narrating extra information about the community.

While there is some music in the LGBT doco (in the beginning, and none over the interviewees speaking), the corrections facility doco had the solemn, dramatic piano music playing throughout the whole thing (even over the interviewees speaking). And thinking back to my own documentary, I was wondering which one would be better – to have music throughout, or not? I think that the solemn music playing throughout the corrections facility doco really influenced it in that it gave it that very sad, serious tone, and really fit in well as opposed to if it didn’t include that background music. But I guess the real issue for me would be to look for the right type of music to use in my documentary, should I choose to include any. And then it would also come down to finding a song and getting permission to use it.

I’ve already conducted some interviewees, and I kind of filmed my interviewees from the chest up. But I noticed a stark difference in how both documentaries mentioned above filmed their interviewees. The LGBT doco filmed most of their subjects from the waist up. The correctional facility doco filmed its subjects right in the face! I guess for the LGBT doco it would’ve been appropriate to take a more distant shot so that viewers have a sort of ‘comfortable’ distance away from the interviewees, whereas the corrections doco is probably meant to be a bit more confrontational. The LGBT doco also showed the interviewees speaking, without putting images over them; whereas the corrections facility one always had different footage playing over its interviewees speaking.

Both documentaries were about community and conflict, but both had quite contrasting styles. As of now, I’m not too sure which style would be suitable for my community and conflict, but I guess a bit of both won’t hurt. I think the use of statistics and information shown in text is quite useful, especially if I have anything extra that I may want to add into the documentary. It was definitely helpful to see how interviewees were filmed and how music and extra footage was used in the documentaries, but I guess I’ll need to look at more documentaries to see more styles and more angles in reflecting communities through a documentary.

Memories…

Yesterday’s lecture by Dean was really interesting. He was talking about mediated memories… of memory, remembrance, and memorial, and before that I hadn’t realized that our online photos are, in a way, our digital shoeboxes being published for the world to see. Creepy, if you think about it, because some things can be quite private and you don’t realize the extent to which things are public until some random stranger or acquaintance you haven’t talked to in a million years suddenly knows where you went for your summer holidays, and who you went with, and what you did etc…. happened to me before, hence, I know… haha.

Anyway, the lecture led me to thinking about my documentary and how I can insert some references to memory into it. In the case of the Tote, especially, it can be useful. (I’ll probably just put a short slideshow or something….) Since its closing down in February, the Tote’s exterior has been covered with letters and graffiti, almost as if in remembrance or as a tribute to its past. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves (or click here for full-sized images):

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The Tote has become a site for its own memorial… and as I was busy taking pictures of it, a lady walked past and asked me “Is this place going to reopen anytime soon?” “I hope so” “I hope so, too”

The Tote’s online presence so far also has this sense of memorial and remembrance… the Tote’s MySpace page is filled with comments from supporters, some saying thank you, some apologizing, many expressing sadness and anger and hopes of the Tote re-opening, the Tote’s website has a final message from its ex-owner, Bruce Milne, and there’re a couple of Facebook groups set up to gain support to reopen/save the Tote, and their walls often have messages or comments in remembrance of the place, and not to mention user-uploaded photos and albums of the Tote when it was still open.

Well, the latest news is that the Tote has been bought over by new owners, and will be re-opening soon. However, the Tote’s case hasn’t been reviewed by the authorities, so it’s still under ‘high-risk’ conditions. It’s still good news for the Tote’s fans and supporters, but more music venues are still waiting for their cases to be reviewed, and so hopefully there’ll be more good news to come!!!!

Music is not violent!!!

Just today, the Age published an article titled “Live music ‘not tied to violence’“. From the article,

VICTORIA Police and Melbourne City councillors have backed the music industry’s view that live music does not lead to violence, despite liquor-licensing arrangements linking late-night venues with high-risk security conditions.

I’m glad there’s so much support for the Melbourne music industry, not only from music lovers and musicians but from the authorities as well. And I hope things start getting better soon, especially for the smaller venues.

So far, interviews are going well. I’ve got very good information from my main interviewee who is from SLAM / Music Victoria, and I am confident my other interviewees will give me good answers as well!!! I think I may be going overboard with getting interviews done… but I was being really skeptical at first and so I contacted more people than I needed because I anticipated half of them to say no. But it seems like I’ve been too pessimistic, as the people I’ve contacted seem to be very open and interested in helping out!!!! So well… after my interviews are all done, post-production is going to be a pain!!!! But as long as I have a structure mapped out, I will just follow that and go from there.

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