by Gina Hall
At more than a century old, filmmaking is an ancient art compared to social media. In the last one hundred years, filmmakers have developed and honed storytelling techniques that have become de rigeur in the industry.
Social media managers trying to tell a story about their brands can learn a lot by paying attention to these masters. The medium is different but the art can be the same.
Here are three techniques all social media managers should study.
Filmmakers plan ahead and know in advance what shots they need. Storyboards are hand-drawn (and often now, computer-generated) animations that serve as a visual outline. This valuable tool allows a director to plan his shots according to an overarching design, ensuring that the story unfolds as imagined.
A savvy social media manager can adopt this strategy to lay out a photo gallery. Rather than posting pictures randomly, consider storyboarding ahead of time.
Use this storytelling technique: Focus on chronology and count down to a major event. Users scrolling through your feed will see a narrative unfold.
Here’s a great example, Director Kevin Smith recently went to ComiCon in San Diego. He lead his followers through the behind-the-scenes highlights of his journey.
2. Visual Style
The best filmmakers tend to have a unique vision of their own. A Quentin Tarantino film bears his unmistakable shot selection, just as a David Lean film appears to expand the silver screen to enormous proportions. Filmmakers strive to create a visually striking look which audiences will associate with them.
Find a style that is unique to your brand. Maybe there’s a color palette that works well with your brand or product. Some colors are associated with periods of time — pastels were popular in the 50s, neon colors in the 80s. Or maybe there’s a tone that provides synergy with your message. For example choose pictures that are awe-inspiring or feel good to portray a certain emotion.
Burberry tells the behind-the scenes stories of its brand’s fashion shoots while strictly adhering to the brand’s distinctive style.
Filmmakers shoot a lot of footage. If all of that imagery ended up on screen, a movie might last 200 hours. Not only is that not practical, it’s not a good way to tell a story. For one thing, the audience is going to start walking out. The best stories are concise. Cut out anything that is not absolutely essential.
As a social media manager, it’s critical to engage your audience and keep them interested. Remember that often, less is more. If you flood Twitter every five minutes with your message, your followers will begin tuning you out and eventually leave you completely. Choose your message carefully and deliver it in a timely manner.
Miserable Men is an Instagram account that uses images to tell a funny story within each frame. I can imagine they have a lot of “footage” or images to choose from, but they careful weed through the material to find the ones that best convey the point of the account. Scrolling through the feed you’ll notice each man more exasperated than the last. As a result, the feed conveys the larger message, just how much men hate to tag along while their wives or girlfriends shop.
Pro Tip: Pay attention to your storage, your smartphone doesn’t have unlimited capacity. Filmmakers take extra time to back up their footage frequently so they don’t lose the best shots of the day. Either pay attention to when your phone prompts you to buy more storage in the cloud or backup your photos to a service like Dropbox, Google+, or Everpix.
These techniques — storyboarding, visual style, and editing — can essentially be summarized as: Have a plan, choose a look, and stay on message.
Put these practices to work and your own brand could be as recognizable as a Hitchcock film or a Spike Lee joint.
Gina Hall is a writer and filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles.