Posts filed under ‘twitter’

Learn About Using Twitter for Business at Our January Workshop

(Note from Monica: Originally the amazing Tanya Roberts and I were running the workshop, but Tanya is at full capacity with her work and I am fortunate to have another awesome and brilliant gal to work with. I am thrilled to have Stephanie Michelle Scott of Wildfire Effect as my new partner.)

On January 22nd Tanya Roberts and I will be presenting our Twitter for Business Workshop.

We’re aiming to offer this workshop, geared towards beginners, monthly.  If you’d like to be kept posted, please fill out this quick form and we’ll keep you in the loop.  (We might also offer advanced sessions at some point in the future.  Again, please fill out our form if you want to be updated.)

FYI, the sessions will be informative, educational – and fun!

General Session Information

You’ve heard that Twitter is a great marketing tool, but you still don’t get it, right? As Steven Berlin Johnson wrote in his Time Magazine story on Twitter, “The one thing you can say for certain about Twitter is that it makes a terrible first impression. The service allows you to send 140-character updates to your followers,” he writes, “and you think, why does the world need this, exactly?”

The goal of this workshop is to demystify Twitter and give you tangible, real life examples that you can use to get on the Twitter bandwagon, beef up your marketing efforts, and ultimately grow your online presence.


  • Twitter: What is it good for?
  • Getting Set-up: Creating a compelling profile and generating content.
  • Growing Your Following: Building your following and engaging followers.
  • Twitter & Marketing: Adding social media to your marketing mix.
  • Best Practices: What works? Real life examples, cautions, and what “not to do.”

Register for Twitter for Business Workshop - August 21, 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia  on Eventbrite

If you’d like to read more about us, check out Tanya’s post here.


And if you’d like to get an idea of my presentation style, here’s a video of my Northern Voice talk on “Finding Your Online Voice”.

January 1, 2011 at 6:00 am 2 comments

Talk Amongst Yourselves – or Not So Much?

I recently attended SlideRocket’s webinar where Cliff Atkinson presented “The Backchannel: A Presenter’s Nightmare or Dream Come True?“.  The session addressed:

  1. Yes, this is happening: people are Tweeting at conferences
  2. Specific examples of Twitter revolts during talks
  3. The value of engaging the backchannel (i.e. Twitter conversations during a talk) and how to do so more.

I’ve given, and attended, a number of talks and I have conflicting sentiments about the Twitter stream during presentations.

As a speaker, I am excited by the immediate feedback. Seeing a number of comments about a talk right after giving it is a wild and, oddly, comforting feeling. (I did something today, I think, and this proves it!) It is interesting to see which points, topics or stories particularly resonated with the audience. On the flip-side, I sometimes feel a bit dismayed when seeing something I said out of context. The context is often necessary to comprehend that what I said was meant in jest, or in order to render the statement “sensical”.

As a participant, the desire to connect with others in the session, to share the information with those not there, or to simply covey, “I am here in this session, doing something today”. (If you’re getting the sense that I may need to really prove to myself and others that I am accomplishing something, you may be on the right track.) At times, the information being broadcast helps those paying attention on Twitter get a sense of the presentation and its overriding points and message. But the conversation also takes away from the content of the talk, and from actually listening.

Here are just some of the pros and cons as I see them.  Please feel free to contribute what you see as pluses or minuses.


Tremendous Oversimplification. 140 characters is not enough to tell a story, and sometimes not even enough to explain a point made.

Out of Context. As stated above, jokes or flip statement are the easiest for those not present to read and misinterpret. (“She thinks slaughterhouses are sexy?!”)

Missed information
.  The focus can become not on learning – but on sharing what you just learnt.  And it’s easy to miss what the speaker is saying next while attempting to truncate their last statement.  And, as Chris Pirillo put it so well: “The problem with people using Twitter during a presentation is that they are paying more attention to the voice that is in their head than they are to the voice on the stage.”

.  An embarrassing story of my spaciness here (but we’re friends right?) :  While at TEDxVancouver I tried to tweet occasionally, to mention that I like a talk or to put out a quick point.  The conference had a few technical difficulties where some videos took a few moments to play etc.  And so, after coming back from one of the breaks, I got on the Twitter and tweeted happily away.  I heard some music play, and assumed they had switched it on while they got organized.  When, after a few moments, I heard clapping the realization dawned on me in a painful way. The music had been a performance. Live.  And I had missed it.

Noise/Randomness.  Ah, yes, noise.  The internet, and social media by extension, has that in fair supply.  While watching (or capturing) comments on a particular talk, you will see information and notes about the talk, but you might also see things like “Trying to get to #BobSmith’s session, but stuck in transit.  Wow, BCTransit bites!”.  While this message might be (arguably) relevant and (certainly) true, it contributes nothing to the discourse/feed.

Too Easy to Criticize. It’s been said that “Everyone’s a critic”.  And Twitter makes that all too easy.  It’s there, it’s a channel to the public, and some don’t censor themselves enough.  While these people are in the minority, the notion that everyone has a relevant opinion gives voice, quite literally to unnecessary and impulsive comments (“How could he be wearing that ‘Death Cab for Cutie’ shirt to a talk?!” or “I knew about the experiment he just referred to. Next.”)


Interactivity.  If properly integrated into the talk, as Cliff Atkinson was mentioning, the result can (in some capacity) be a more engaged talk, and hence a more engaging talk.  The questions, concerns and audience viewpoints taken into account might result in a stronger presentation – and one that really speaks to the people present.    At the very least, you, as a presenter, can be aware of the concerns of the audience (this might work especially well if the session is one that breaks off – i.e. perhaps has a workshop and you can see what the audience is needing, missing.)

Stimulation.  A good talk – like an insightful book – should occasionally take your brain on tangents. You should sometimes think about 1) is this true? I agree/disagree. 2) that reminds me of this experience I had/ heard about. There are times a speaker’s points will inspire trains of thought.  This means notes and sometimes dialogue (easily accessed through Twitter/Backchannel. (Now, this may well be selfish of me: Talking time away from speaker to extrapolate a blog post. But I take my moments of inspiration where I can get them).

And, least I be misunderstood, I do love that there are people who tweet and, especially, take notes.  Their hard work allows me to really listen to the talk – and be assured that there will be a place to find the important points when I later (without fail) forget 90% of what was said.

Share your rants and raves below, if so inclined.


Talk Amongst Yourselves – or Not So Much” by Monica Hamburg

Post url:

January 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm 1 comment

Adding Value on Twitter

I recently wrote the following piece for Marketline . (PDF of the article is here, btw. )

Adding Value on Twitter

Advice such as the frequent social media tip, “make sure to add value” often feels as daunting as “make a good impression” or, in my case, “don’t look so suspicious”.

Twitter is very much like street performing. You don’t have a captive audience, so you need to be as engaging as possible to get people to stop, watch the show and stick around.

Ask yourself, what can you offer that would be beneficial to others? If you make an effort to provide real content, you’ll give people more reason to pay attention – and see you as a person of “value”.


  • It’s not all about you. Understand that while you have an agenda for being on Twitter – no one else’s aim is to find you friends or send business your way. Don’t wax poetic about your life or to promote yourself ad nauseum.
  • Examine your Bio/profile. Who you are is a big reason people follow you. Based on that, figure out what those people might want to learn or gain. And be sure to allow your personality to shine through. While what you say is important, how you say it is even more so.
  • Share your experience. Understand that the social component is the beauty of this medium. It’s often about people helping people. Respond to questions when you can – even if they’re not specifically directed at you. If you’ve had an outstanding experience with a company or person – mention it. Did you recently go to an exceptional event or hear of a great cause? Allow others to benefit from what you’ve learned.
  • Be clear. When you Retweet a message clarify why others should care. Begin your tweet with the explanation (“Insightful post!”, “I support this great cause” or “This article on marketing to chimps confounds me”).
  • Don’t make it difficult. Consider the articles you read today that intrigued you or brilliant posts that you’ve bookmarked on sometime ago. Is there a blog you follow often because it is just that insightful – or even because it enrages you? Share your knowledge with the Twitosphere.

The online word is not so different than the offline one. You quickly tune out when someone is too self-aggrandizing or doesn’t say anything of interest to others. So, give others a reason to stay tuned in. And try not to look so suspicious.

September 29, 2009 at 1:17 pm 2 comments

Some Social Media Tips

I’ll be presenting at the Vancouver Financial Services Marketing Meetup next week – and I figure I’d address some “best practices” in my talk.   Here are a few (note: I wrote this originally for an online interview).


1) Communicate with people, don’t just use the sites as a 1-way bullhorn.

2) Be honest – if you’re affiliated with a product/company don’t pretend your endorsement comes out of the blue

3) Check out what people are saying about you and your company using Google Alerts and other tools

4) If you’re on Twitter, take the time to get to know people, to help and communicate.  Self-promotion should be only a very small part of what you put out there.

5) Make social media a part of your life rather than trying to fit it in (e.g. make twittering and posting a natural extension of how you communicate)

How has Social Media helped me?

I have been asked to speak at conferences because people have come across my blogs. I’m excited when they’ve read my blogs beforehand because gives them an insight into who I am. Oddly enough, I’ve had a few people say they were booking me just as much for the fact that I’m funny as for my knowledge –  they wanted someone who could brings humor to the presentation.

Biggest Mistakes

1)  Ignoring it altogether – hoping it’s a fad

2) Seeing it as advertising rather than communication

3) Revealing too much – or two little (it’s beneficial to give people an idea of the person behind the business)

Best Networkers

They allow themselves to be 3-dimensional.  They reveal some aspects of their personality and admit their mistakes.  They naturally like people and genuinely want to have discourses and meet others.  They give and add value to the community.  I think a sense of fun and playfulness also helpful in the space.

Tips for success

1) Structure: You have to commit to whatever site or site(s) you’re networking on, commit to going there, to posting, and to communicating on a regular schedule.  If you disappear for a long time people will figure you’ve left.

2) It takes time.  You won’t suddenly get people throwing money at you.  But if you invest your time you will eventually see the results of your efforts.

3) Think of it as networking at an event or party.  You let your hair down a bit, and meet people and chat.  Using the same example, parties don’t always lead to a business deal that evening, but nurturing the connections might eventually bear fruit.

4) Try to have fun with it – even though it is, in a sense, marketing.  If you enjoy the communication, it will be less of a labor and more easy to incorporate into your life.

If I had to pick only 1 social network

Twitter.  It’s faster and easier to communicate and generally more people see the message.  Also you can incorporate other elements (link to pictures, blog posts etc.)  I think you still need a blog, but you can communicate every day on Twitter, whereas you may not have the time or energy to write daily in-depth posts on your blog.

How to use

Use YouTube to showcase yourself briefly and to give others a chance to see “real life” you.  Use Facebook as a general communication tool – it allows you to update your status, post videos, talk to people, organize events etc.  Plus, most people are on it.  Use Twitter to communicate a few times a day.  Your blog is great for ideas, thoughts about your business/industry, to allow clients to keep up with you and your work and activities and for general longer-form communication than microblogs (e.g. Twitter).

What tips do you have re: best practices, that you think I should share?

___  ___  ___

P.S. I recently did an interview with the Casual Encounters blog (primarily about my other blog)

July 6, 2009 at 12:45 pm 5 comments

And My Twitter Presentation today:

And you thought I was done talking.  Never!

I’ll be presenting this at My Charity Connects today.

Once again, your positive thoughts help  :)

June 9, 2009 at 4:03 am 1 comment

Being Real 2.0

When I first started this blog (at the end of 2007), I posted the (creatively and originally titled) post: “My Views on Social Networking“.

I wrote:

We are all connected.

Photo: "We are all connected" by Erica_Marshall

“On a large scale, social networking truly fulfills the role that our old (read: non-virtual) communities used to prove. This has sorely been lacking for most of us. Now we are only several connections away from others, only a few friends away from a new friend. Here we offer assistance to each other and ask for help. We are kept posted of occurrences within our social circle, to what are friends are doing or concerned about, today. Of what events they are attending. Here the town crier is Facebook, shouting out to us about the many parties we can attend, things we can do. As a “Wired” article summed-up the phenomenon that is Twitter: “That tactile sense of your community is simply too much fun, too useful” (Clive Thompson, “How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense”).

That this evolution has also tremendously affected how we communicate with each other online, even in a business context, is clear by this point. And it has changed how much of ourselves we display to others, even if we have a possible business agenda to our online presence.

In February I moderated the very cool panel discussion about who you are online (photo here ).  All the women on the panel (Jenn Lowther, Rebecca Bollwitt, Linda Bustos and Nadia Nascimento) were web savvy (understatement), and, as such, had a strong awareness of the public nature of communicating online. They were very strategic about their line between public and private, establishing those boundaries and the nature of how they presented themselves.  That said, what we were comfortable posting about was quite varied.

This morning, I was talking to my boyfriend about Twitter and remarked that he’s been online for a few months, he has a clearer idea of how he wishes to communicate (or, to be artistic here, he understands his online “voice”).  It’s something that I have to remember to make clear in an upcoming presentation, that this understanding of “who you are online – be it on Twitter, Facebook, a Blog etc. – does not come immediately.  And it takes some playing around and trial and error for most to figure out what they are comfortable with and what works for them or their business or organization.

When I first started to blog, it was on my humor blog – and actually didn’t realize that that would be the theme of my blog.  In fact, the first few posts were random essays and rants. I only discovered what I would be motivated to post about (i.e. absurdities) after a month or two.

There were also other discoveries – such as after a week or two on Twitter, I realized that I wasn’t too keen on posting about what I was doing- and made the executive decision that no one would be the least bit interested.  Like most, I am not exciting 24hrs a day.  Sure, 5-7 times a day, I’m entertaining. And if that’s all I tweet, I’m golden.  Posting more often, or potentially a log of everything I was doing, would break that illusion (e.g. 6am: “Working on the computer, as you can ascertain”, 8am: “Time to eat” 10am: “Still working on the computer, now at a coffee shop”, 6pm “Time to eat 7pm: “Back to working on computer again”).

So my succinct advice about authenticity online would be: “be real, but like, better.”


May 13, 2009 at 6:06 pm Leave a comment

Integrating Twitter into Your Life

When I mention Twitter to people not on it, they often say they simply have no idea what they would tweet about.  The best advice I think I give people is:

Find a way to make conversing on Twitter a part of your life.

If you view Twitter as an open communication channel (to your friends and beyond) that you can simply tap in anytime you like – that understanding can make the process quite natural – and possibly less intimidating.

What to talk about?*

Consider this, in a given day, do you sometimes:

  • See something interesting and think “I have to remember to tell my friend about this!”
  • Read an intriguing article or news item on the web?
  • Have an odd experience? (At the library? On transit?)
  • Do something that might interest one or more other human

Any of these can make interesting tweets and give people insight into your life.  Which is sort of the point.


Everyone’s line of privacy or disclosure is different.  I am very private about certain things, and seemingly reckless when it comes to others.  But I’m actually fairly tactical. I know what I’m OK with people knowing and hearing from me.***

The spectrum is quite broad.  You have to gage what you are comfortable disclosing and what you think (and here’s a key thing) people you want to interact with would want to know.  Some post mostly about business, Some mostly personal.  I think aiming for some balance on this is great.  Allowing others to have a window into your personal life and thoughts is useful – it helps establish relationships.

I’ve found that when I met twitters in real life the ice was already broken.  It was far easier to have conversations from a point at which we already kind of knew each other.

How Much to Disclose

And being interesting and intriguing helps maintains people’s gaze.  But how interesting…?

If you want to open your circle of friends/followers, and so keep your tweets unsecured (read: public), you are for all intents and purposes, in public. Even if you only have 20 people following, anyone can check out your page and a search can easily turn up your tweet.

So, here’s my line (and, again, mine alone):  If it’s something I would be comfortable saying at a party, it passes the test.

How Much is Too Much

In real life, revealing too much can make even broadminded strangers uncomfortable.

Consider these examples:****

Just at the bank… Why do I always end up behind the guy who is making all his deposits for the year?“= Good

Had an abortion this week.“= Bad


Dating can be so frustrating sometimes.” = Nice Break-the-Ice Level

I’m going through a divorce and my wife is making me sleep our backyard.” = Awkward Glass-Shattering Level


Hey Tom: Time for Coffee Today?” = Yes.

Hey Tom: You are a DECEPTIVE motherfucker! Why aren’t you calling me back?” = No.


Again, this is just my opinion.

Wait – No, it’s not.



*(More suggestions about what to tweet about here and here)

**These you can even text it (or email) from your phone, if you like) as it happens!

***(or at least I think I do:)

****While I have heard of something similar to the third example happening on Twitter, the second was uttered by a guy who I just met for a dialect coaching  session and the first was said to me (rather cheerily, in fact, by a girl I didn’t know in a film criticism class.  (I think I asked if she wanted a french fry.)


Integrating Twitter into Your Life” by Monica Hamburg

March 12, 2009 at 9:00 am 2 comments

Bring Your Characters and Film to Life via Social Media

A huge thank you to Erica Hargreave for all her hard work on yesterday’s panel and to Maayan Cohen and Danika Dinsmore.

Among other subjects, Carol Sill & Erica addressed the role of “characters” in telling a story via social media.*  Gillian Shaw (who was also on the panel & was great) subsequently spoke to Carol & I about our thoughts on the subject.


Now I rarely follow “characters” – likely because there are few television shows and fictional characters that engage me enough to follow their “activities” online.**  And with characters where it’s not clear the “person” isn’t a person, there is a certain deception involved.

It’s a double edged sword for an artist – put forth a character that makes the fictional aspect apparent and many won’t follow an “unknown” character.  Not unless they have something really interesting to say.  Which is why I do follow Emme Rogers (as do many others): she’s fun, flirty and I think the conversation that takes place around her and her exploits brings a great sense of play to Twitter.

And characters can be very useful – and exciting – both for the artist and for the storyteller.

Allowing the character to live in other platforms before the film is released – and whilst the film is being made – gives the character a larger/broader  life – and helps with publicity.

Related stories (lets call them “pre-stories”, for this point) can engage the audience and allow them to have a larger window into/to the character.  After all, any character has a life that began before the point at which the film begins.  Consider what aspects of their life you can explore and what kind of tools you could use to tell the story (video on Youtube et al., photos on Flickr, brief but enticing spurts on Twitter etc.) What parts of their story can bring more life to the character and the film?  Where were the characters 6 months before? What interactions did they have the day before? That morning?   You can see how this can be especially useful for something like a mystery/suspense project!

And, as I said in the above article (and as I have heard Monique Trottier mention with regards to books), there is no reason the end of the film needs to be the end.  I can tell you that there have been several films (Red Road, Sideways) where I was consumed with reading more about the film after seeing it. Or where I’ve seen a film numerous times. So desperate was I to stay “engaged”.

For the artist,  this process, while time-consuming, is in another sense, almost effortless.  After all, as a writer and actor, I always created a background for the characters etc. And, much as I’d love to pretend I’m special, this is pretty standard practice.  So such items can be extremely creative and satisfying – as well as a boon when it comes to building an audience.

And now, with all the tools available through social media, there’s the opportunity to give the audience more, to keep them engaged. Your creativity is the limit when it comes to where your story begins – or ends.


*We managed to talk about several social media topics, but there were some key things we didn’t have the time to address, so I hope we do have the opportunity to do a part 2 with this group so we can take our discussion to the next level.  Oh & Erica and Leah Nelson (who was helping out by being Linkgrrl09 and finding the sites we all talked about) decided to play this video while I spoke, to help er, demonstrate my expertise…

**However, get any or all the characters from The Office on Twitter and I will press “follow” until I develop carpal tunnel.

***I’ll be looking into the use of Alternate Reality Games for independent film projects in a future post.

Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.



Bring Your Characters and Film to Life Using Social Media” by Monica Hamburg

March 5, 2009 at 9:52 pm 13 comments

Getting the Crowd to “Make” Your Film – e.g. “Lost Zombies”

Crowdsourcing has become an exciting concept in the business world.  (I’ve explored the concept of Crowdsourcing many times before – if you’re interested in my views on the topic, the best place to look is my One Degree series.  Other posts on the topic can be found in the “Crowdsourcing” category of this blog)

What’s exciting is that some innovative filmmakers are also making use of this concept.

Several projects are now getting content from the crowds (e.g. Lost Zombies), Crowdfunding (e.g. My Million Dollar Movie), and even making an “open-sourced” feature film (e.g. Swarm of Angels (I wouldn’t recommend the latter tactic, btw, but I’ve been wrong before).

The beauty of this is that engages the audience – creates a dialogue:

“I believe the Internet has created a kind of conversation that we are all involved with.  We‘ve gotten used to that level of interaction. It‘s rewarding. Now we want that experience from our media.” Lost Zombies encourages its fans to document their own zombie encounters. In just a matter of weeks the community has grown to more than 400 active members with contributed materials flowing in from all over the world.” (- Lance Weiler.  From Filmmaker Magazine: “When The Audience Takes Control : Lance Weiler breaks down the new models independent filmmakers are using to create a fan base.”  Read this, btw – it’s excellent)

In this TCIBR podcast – Lost Zombies & Skot Leach (co-director of the film – along with his brother Ryan) (Listen on the Workbook Project site)

(Source: The Workbook Project )

(Questions asked by Lance Weiler, responses provided by Skot Leach)
(FYI, I am paraphrasing a great deal here)
– Community Generated Zombie Film
– Film made my the crowds “Zombie Documentary”
– Audience looking for more involvement, engagement
– Wanted to get people to contribute short bursts
– Chose Zombie theme – figured that could work, be enjoyable

- Call to action?

  • Zombie site – Created in Ning
  • Users Create Profile -
  • Submit Zombie encounter in whatever format (video, pictures or any media type) – Zombie outbreaks
  • All encounters considered rumors, until more “outbreaks” of each location are submitted then considered “confirmed”

- Structure? Storyline?

  • There is a structure, storyline
  • All will be compiled into an overall film with these media
  • Will also be influenced by audience
  • Process?

-How to organize/rights w/ such a large crowd?

  • Timeline – will look at what is appropriate
  • Not clear re: distribution track, esp. w/ rights issues, will look at when complete and possibly go back and talk to content creators

- Building a community (as with gaming) economies come around them, could be release for free, but could monetize content around it?

  • Leaning towards that
  • Original vision involved ending up

- Explain Ning to those unfamiliar?

  • Blank template, like Facebook, allows you to build entire social network, invite your own users, define interface
  • Can add widgets to tweek to your needs

- Open Data portability issues? Can you pull user data, so you have it?

  • Simply put, Yes.
  • Provided Framework, but users info is yours
  • Some people joined just to be part of social network (loved Zombies), without contributing
  • Audience before content
  • Compelling enough with Ning to retain audience while you flesh out story
  • Double-edged sword – Want to tell story, point of site, and don’t necessarily want people to be so caught up in the social aspect that they ignore story

- Dealing with crowds – what has been interesting, surprising?

  • How quickly people “got it”
  • Knew ARG community likes to piece things together – wondered if horror fans would get what they should do
  • Very quickly people start
  • Tweeted Ning’s feature re location – renamed “outbreaks”
  • And then people started really working with that, posting photos, videos
  • They also found news items and related (“someone bit at a party, this seems odd? – Could this be zombie related?)
  • People discovered they could contribute in their own unique way (asking question, posting audio files, drawings, video)
  • Like a conversation

- As project grows, any plans, ideas of breaking into “real world”

  • Exploring:
    • Possibility of live video editing/mixing, remix story – so each time you see the film it’s pulled in a different way
    • Interested in “Zombie walks” – a final event where site culminates in a final live event e.g. Zombie Apocalypse where zombie walks the world (people participate by documenting etc.)

- How to get involved with this film?

  • Go to LostZombies
  • Sign up
  • - Participate – submit items or even direct story by asking questions

- Interactivity becoming norm?

  • More immersive progression. Videogames, ARGs rise shows that the audience is ready to experience these types of things
  • Audience members can determine the pace, level they participate (observe, do a little, do plenty)
  • Playful, interactive quality

- These are social experience – like theatrical –  Commununal Experience.  People falsely believe that online = alienation.  But now people are their own media company (can publish, upload video etc. and immediately can be seen around the world – just a matter of aggregating audience to it.  Mirrors theatrical, 2-way communicational.  These types of projects are very exciting.

Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.


March 4, 2009 at 7:40 am 2 comments

Casting 2.0 – For Filmmakers

Looking for talent online is becoming increasingly popular.  You can find actors for a few parts, one part, or even most of your cast online.  paranoid-park

Here are the benefits and drawbacks, as I see them:


  • You can find people that are talented and unique.
  • You gain attention for your film


  • May get plenty of lame videos
  • Might not get enough videos to cast (there’s much competing for attention, and someone really has to invest time to put up a good video)
  • Must focus on publicizing this call
  • Effort-intensive
  • If you are going only by audience votes (& I’d recommend against this strategy) you are likely to end up with either the most popular (but not necessarily the best, or your preference) or the one who can rally the most friends to vote for him.
  • You might find someone perfect but who doesn’t live in the town you’re shooting.

So what to do?


Don’t cast everyone online.

It will make your life unnecessarily difficult. Odds are, if you’re a filmmaker, you know many talented people.  That said, there may be 1 or two hard to cast parts, and that’s when you should put out an online call

Try to look at the call from the auditioners point of view

Keep in mind:

  • There are many such calls out there.  Some are legitimate, some are just a way for the filmmaker to get more attention for his/her film.
  • It takes effort and time for an auditioner to record an good audition.
  • You might love your premise and film, but the actor (and audience) has no such attachment.


  • you have to make your call as interesting and appealing as possible (ain’t this always my suggestion)
  • Make sure your site/page contains as much information about your production, team crew as is relevant, helpful.  This not the time to brag/exaggerate.  This is the time to put forth links to your profile and other sites, videos etc. that verify your legistimacy.   If you have a solid short film online (Hello, YouTube again… ) this will help – in fact, embed a relevant video in the “about” page.

Figure out if you’ll be letting the audience vote.

Voting engages people (think American Idol etc.) but you may not wish to be stuck with who people decide. (Especially since not everyone pays fair.) Consider allowing people to vote for their favorites and have an “audience favorite” who is guaranteed a role, and your favorite who will get the role.  Or offer prizes for people to vote, but with similar caveat.

Consider Location – or how to accommodate

Sure, you run the risk of finding awesome talent who might not live in your area, but consider if this is really a concern:

  1. If so, limit the call to people in a certain region
  2. If only slightly, you might pay for their flight and find them a safe place to stay during shoot – doesn’t have to be luxury hotel, sometimes a guest room works. (1)

How to do it?

There are a whole bunch of ways to make this work.  Here’s what I think works best – and is most efficient. (But it is certainly time and effort-consuming.)

Have a place/home where this film/call lives.

  • Ideally start a specific site (purchase a domain name for your film, so if your film is Credo the site is, casting = or Credocasting  as a home.  This is the place where all the information will be & will be aggregated.
  • Have links on this site to other places online that the film/call exists (Youtube, Twitter, Facebook etc.)

Then expand outwards.

  • Use your blog to help promote and discuss (at various stages)
  • Put a call out on various social networks (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Myspace)
  • As I understand, running an official contest on YouTube (“Community”) is expensive), so it might be best to just set up a group and get people to become members of a group (basically one click) to submit their videos (once uploaded to YouTube)


Gus Van Sant used MySpace page to find some talent for Paranoid Park.

“[W]hen it comes to finding quirky unknowns , Casting Society of America board member Laura Adler says internet searches are fast becoming a go-to tool among her colleagues. She cites Christopher Mintz-Plasse, for example, who landed the role of “McLovin” in Superbad after casting agents spotted his clips on YouTube. “It’s a great tool for finding new faces,” she says. “Casting people use MySpace or FaceBook or Craigslist when they’re looking for an unknown young talent who’s odd or unique. You run the risk of getting bombarded by tons of people who aren’t right for the role but we get that anyway, on a daily basis.” (from “Filmmakers Find Fresh Talent on MySpace “)

Ning is a social site where you can create your own social network/niche. (E.g. a Facebook of sorts for a particular interest):

“One of the most popular Ning networks belongs to hip-hop mogul 50 Cent and has 107,000 members and counting. Chris “Broadway” Romero, creative director of new media for Fitty’s site, describes it as “an entertainment-industry news/rumor/editorial blog in the vein of, combined with unparalleled access and interaction with the celebrity.” Romero uses the site to cast parts for music videos and film projects, and one day, he hopes to release music and video directly to the public, bypassing record companies completely. To Romero, it’s nothing less than “a new entertainment platform, period.” A single Ning group can, in theory, serve as a platform for an entire business; collectively, the networks represent an ever-expanding commercial universe. (From Fast Company: “Ning’s Infinite Ambition




Be upfront.  And make certain that you have a decent online reputation to help allay concerns.

Established a real relationship with people you cast, or plan to cast and be sure you’re not a… scuzzy.  (Sorry, can’t help you if you are).  Again, try to put yourself in the auditioners shoes.

Again here, I make the assumption that both the filmmaker and the actor is educating themselves – looking into  someone’s background online as well as checking references etc. before meeting/staying with them or allowing someone to stay at their place.

There are many sites that address safety concerns especially with regards to acting – so I’ll keep this brief – note to actors:

  1. Never be desperate (yes, this seems impossible, at times, but trust me)
  2. Trust your instincts
  3. Never let someone convince you to do something that makes you uncomfortable
  4. Be kind but upfront, ask someone to provide references (especially female references, if you’re a woman) so you can confirm your own safety.  Anyone who would balk about this has their own issues. (Personal note: I developed a similar rule when I was dating: learned to say I was not comfortable going to a guy’s house early on. If they became jerky, I knew exactly who I was dealing with.)


Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.


Casting 2.0 for Filmmakers” by Monica Hamburg

March 3, 2009 at 1:41 pm 3 comments

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