The Lowdown is a new segment on The Production Office, a weekly live show on LiveStream: LiveStream.com/guerillafilm. The show is broadcast live by Guerilla Film and Chris Jones on Thursday nights at 7.30pm GMT. You can also catch up with the show on VoD on the site.

Twitter is one of the most useful marketing and networking tools for filmmakers out there. Here’s a quick guide to how to make the most of Twitter:

It’s all about you
Twitter is the perfect place to build your brand as a person and a filmmaker. You can use whatever screen name you like: I use my own name – @olilewington – but Chris uses his company name – @livingspiritpix – and Judy uses @applestax, which is neither her name nor her company, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that all three of us have our full names and links to our sites on our Twitter profile pages.

People want to connect with YOU as a person, not an abstract notion at the end of a computer, so make sure you include your full name somewhere on the profile and a link to your sites. Using a good headshot of yourself as your Avatar is another great way to establish a quick connection with people.

It’s not all about you
Your page is all about you, yes, but what you do on Twitter isn’t.

Twitter is a community and that’s how you need to treat it. If you keep plugging your own stuff constantly you become the social networking equivalent of a guy walking into a party and just handing out fliers; no one wants to be that bloke and, more importantly, no one wants to follow that bloke.

Get involved: take part in conversations, discussions and post links to interesting things you find on the ‘net. They don’t even have to be film-related – on Twitter right now there’s a lot of people sharing stuff they’ve found on the elections happening in a few weeks in the UK. If it’s interesting and worth sharing, share it.

RTs
The letters RT are something you’ll see a lot on Twitter. It means Re-Tweet and is usually done by a click of a button next to a Tweet from someone you follow.

If someone says something interesting, funny or just something you want to pass on, hit the RT button and let all of your followers know about it. It’s a really easy way to support other people in their campaigns, whatever they may be.

Gary King, a filmmakers based in New York has just rasied nearly $3000 in two days largely down to the fact that the community around him RT’d his updates as he drew frantically close to his fundraising deadline. Never underestimate the power of RTs, because when your Tweets are RT’d you know about it, so people can see that you’re supporting them.

Hashtags
Twitter also uses a great little resource called hashtags. This is where you put a hash mark (#) with a specific word after it, like #prodoffice for The Production Office. That then enables any Twitter user to search for that hashtag and it’ll come up with a constantly updated stream of tweets from anyone who puts that hashtag into their messages.

It’s a great way to hold a conversation over Twitter and connect to people you wouldn’t normally see Tweets from.

For screenwriters, there’s a great example of this every Sunday night where #scriptchat takes place, for people to discuss issue with their current projection and seek support and advice – I’ve connected with loads of writers who’ve helped me out through the #scriptchat hashtag.

#ff
Once you start using Twitter you’ll also see the hashtag #FF come up every Friday.

The FF in question stands for Follow Friday and is a way of Twitterers recommending people they follow to others. So this Friday I may decide that Chris and Judy have some interesting stuff going on, so I’ll add #FF to a Tweet and include @livingspiritpix and @applestax, which is a shorthand way of telling everyone who follows me that they should also follow them.

It’s like a personalized Amazon system where you can say to people: if you like me, you might like to try this person, too.

Making the most of Twitter
Twitter is undoubtedly one of the best ways to find and support filmmakers around the world. Watching other people pushing their projects forward and pushing themselves to be the best they can be is utterly inspiring.

Filmmakers of all kinds, from the top directors and celebrities to people scratching out no-budget shorts all come together to help, support and drive each other.

Be part of the conversation – get involved, offer advice, offer opinions, get into the debate and get your ideas across. Like a lot of things in life, the more you put in, the more you get out.

Twitter is what you make of it – it can be all about your breakfast or it can be all about what you have to offer. Just don’t make it all about you.

The Lowdown
That’s this week’s lowdown – if you have any ideas for topics you’d like to see covered here then leave me a comment and we’ll see what we can do. You can also find me on Twitter @olilewington.

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