Audience Building Tools – DIY Days
DIY Days launched today in Los Angeles, and here is my video presentation that I made remotely, since I was unable to make it to LA this time.
The video is also available on YouTube.
As promised in the video, here is a list of some of the tools I use and recommend. If you have any to add, post them in a comment. I’ll update this post if I find any others that are useful.
General Information Tools
WordPress: This is the blogging software that runs this website, as well as foureyedmonsters.com, Workbook Project and tons of others. It’s free and open source. You can have it hosted for free on wordpress.com, or you can download it and install it on your own web server and customize it further. In addition to blog posts, you can set up more permanent “pages” for information about your film that isn’t time-based (example).
Learn more and get WordPress at http://wordpress.org
Google Analytics: Most web hosting services provide basic reporting, but Google Analytics offers a clean, more reliable way to track your web traffic and drill down to find more information. I use this mostly to learn where incoming links are coming from and to see which pages and posts on my sites are getting the most attention. This is also free. If you have WordPress, you can use this plugin to easily get Analytics running on your site.
Learn more and sign up for Google Analytics at http://google.com/analytics
Search Engine Optimization: This is not a specific software tool so much as a tactic for making your website easier to find through search engines. There are a few WordPress plugins out there, but your best bet is to search around the web for articles. Andrew Peterson, who worked on the Four Eyed Monsters distribution team sometimes blogs about SEO. Some people try to game the system or cheat to get higher search rankings, but I try to use tactics that will also make a site easier and more informal for humans as well as for Google.
Learn about Search Engine Optimization on Wikipedia
Social Networks: This includes the obvious sites, like Facebook and MySpace, but many other sites have social networking components. YouTube, Flickr, Twitter or any other site that let’s you link up to other friends on the same service is a social network. Most social networks will show your friends what you’re up to, and they will show their friends in turn that they’re watching you.
Spreading and Sharing Tools
Social Bookmarking: A variety of tools exist that allow you to bookmark resources on the web and share them publicly. I use del.icio.us (a.k.a. Delicious), but there are a ton of others (Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook, etc.), each a bit different in exact purpose and features. Encourage your audience to share your videos, posts, etc. on these sites. I use Social Bookmarking RELOADED, which is a WordPress plugin that automatically adds social bookmarking links to every post on my blog. Also, check out ShareThis, which is what you saw on the Iron Sky site in the above video.
RSS and Atom Feeds are formats of machine-readable XML versions of websites. They’re great for reading blogs using news reader software, such as Google Reader. The idea is that posts on blogs you read are pushed to you through the reader software so you don’t have to remember to go back to the blog website. They’re also great for syndicating information between sites. The differences between RSS and Atom are subtle and technical, so for right now, they’re almost the same exact thing.
Learn more about feeds
Feedburner is a tool for optimizing RSS and Atom feeds that come out of your blog. It will also help you track how many people are reading your blog through the feed, and you can easily set up an email digest version of your feed. I use this plugin to easily integrate Feedburner into my WordPress blog.
Learn more and sign up at http://www.feedburner.com
Twitter is a service that allows you to very easily post short updates, up to 140 characters from your cell phone, IM (Jabber/GTalk), a website or a variety of software. People can subscribe to your Twitter feed using RSS/Atom or through Twitter itself via those same platforms (text messages, instant messaging, etc.). You can also use the same RSS feed to syndicate these updates to your website, Facebook or other services. This is a great way to keep the updates coming without much time investment.
Learn more and sign up at Twitter.com
Disqus: WordPress and other blogging software come with built-in comment functions. Encourage your audience to post comments to keep the discussion going. Disqus is a service that plugs in to your blog and enhances the discussion features. Use these to keep your fans invested, get feedback on what you’re posting and see which fans are most involved.
Learn more and sign up for Disqus
cforms: This should be obvious, but not every film site has this. I use this WordPress plugin to create a great contact form on my site so people can email me directly and privately without me having to post my email address online, which invites tons of spam. It also tracks incoming emails in a database so I can keep an eye on who’s in touch.
Here are some film and media channel sites that show off some of the tools and strategies I talked about in this video.
- Four Eyed Monsters
- Nerdcore Rising
- Iron Sky
- Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
- Indoctrinate U
- Wholphin DVD
For some tips on what not to do with your site, read this article I wrote a few months ago on bad Flash movie websites.
Thanks to Alex Johnson for shooting this video.