Affordable Image Marketing Tools to Help Non-Profits Create Stunning Visuals

When you’re working on promoting your next fundraising event or a thank you initiative to long-time donors, you want to add a visual punch in your campaigns, to make it more exciting.

It’s been proven time and time again that people are more likely to engage with posts that contain photos and/or videos because the visual aspect makes the post more interesting to read. But if you’re on a budget, it can be tough to justify paying for platforms like Photoshop, especially if you don’t use it frequently and/or don’t have a graphic designer in house.

That’s why I’m sharing some of the most popular inexpensive and/or free marketing tools to help non-profits easily create stunning visuals to attract donors, engage fans and make events and campaigns more memorable.

 

Canva For Non-Profits

By far one of the most popular visual tools online today, Canva has a free premium version available for non-profits. You’ll be able to create any image, from infographics, e-books and Facebook ads to email headers and you don’t need to be a graphic designer to use it. It’s the intuitive visual platform even novices can use with an extensive selection of stock photos and other elements available for $1 each. You’ll also be able to upload your own logos and images to the site and incorporate them into your own designs. There are templates available if you’re looking for something more structured and several photo enhancing tools for any touch-ups you need.

Crello

Another popular option that’s free to sign up, Crello has over 65 million free stock images and over 10,000 free design templates. While there are some advanced design elements for $1/each, anyone can sign up and get started on the pre-loaded templates right away. They have designs for print, social media, animations, digital ads and just about anything you can think of that will work for non-profit events, e-newsletters and blogs. The inspiration community page with ideas from members will definitely get the creativity flowing.

Animoto

An affordable platform you can use to easily turn photos, graphics, and video clips into animated video slideshows, Animoto starts with a free two week trial with the paid version starting at $13/month. The basic package gives you over 700+ styles and 500 music tracks to choose from, for each video you create. It’s a platform that works to create great short form videos for Facebook and Instagram as it can easily convert the slideshow to the square format. You can add any images, clips and text you see fit, save it and share it to your respective platforms.

Boomerang from Instagram

You may have tried Boomerang by now, but in case you haven’t, you can use it to create mini-videos that will play a short burst of photos forwards and backwards. It’s a quick, free and quirky way to create a fun visual of a great fundraising event that will be undoubtedly catch the eye of fans and followers. You also have the flexibility to share it on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, not just directly inside Instagram.

Pablo by Buffer

Pablo by Buffer

Pablo by Buffer

Buffer, a well-known social media platform recently released Pablo, a graphic design tool specifically for social media. There is a selection of pre-uploaded photos and text overlays for your images to supplement any Facebook posts and Twitter status updates your organization may be posting. It’s also free to use so you don’t have to pay a fee to edit your photos or share them via social media to platforms such as Instagram as well as Facebook and Twitter.

PhotoPin

PhotoPin Stock Image Site

PhotoPin Image Site

This is a great search engine for images on Flickr that are marked under the Creative Commons license, which lets you use the photos for commercial and non-commercial use for free, as long as credit is given to the creator. Search results can be easily filtered and each image comes in a variety of downloadable sizes and contains the info how you can give the creator credit.

Infogr.am

This platform allows you to publish charts and infographics through a variety of templates. You’ll be able to add charts, maps, videos, images and anything else you and share it with the one-click share button or embed it into your blog. With the free plan, you’re given access to 37+ interactive charts, 13 map types and the ability to import data, run up to 10 projects with 3 pages/project. If you move up to the pro plan for $19/month, that expands to 500+ map types, 100 projects, 10 pages/project, privacy control and the ability to download HD images, gain access to 1 million images & icons, premium templates and live analytical data.

Lumen5

Lumen5 turns your blog posts, articles and any other long form content into a video. Upload the text into the platform, choose some photos and music to go with the text and then you can share it directly to Facebook or upload it to share wherever you like. The free version allows you to create unlimited videos and upload your own logo and photos for the videos you create. It also gives you access to 10,000,000+ free media files. For the pro account at $49/month, you’ll get all that plus the ability to upload your own watermark and outro with square videos, no credit scene and Lumen5 branding

Subscribe here for more marketing tips & fundraising ideas for non-profits, including cost-effective online fundraising ideas and creative & outside-the-box event ideas. Check back here often for more marketing strategies, social media tips and insights into PR.

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Announcing New Service: Ghostwriting

What is Ghostwriting

Ghostwriting 101

 

I’m thrilled to announce that I’m expanding my writing services (which include copywriting, freelance writing (such as articles, ebooks & white papers) & blogging) to include ghostwriting! So what is ghostwriting? It’s basically the practice of having a writer create custom content for you but without their byline. So you have them create a novel, an article or a blog post but the name on the front and/or byline is your business’s name.

If you’re looking to have an article, blog post, e-book or other piece of content ghostwritten, contact me for my packages and rates!

 

What is Brand Journalism?

What is brand journalism?

What is Brand Journalism

 

Whether it’s a non-profit organization or a start-up, nearly everyone has a blog because they want to share important news on services/products and events with their audience.

Other companies, however, are starting to do more. On top of generating brand awareness and turning leads into paying customers through blogging, some companies believe they need to fill in the gaps left behind by traditional media.

Gaps due to the fact that traditional media is overwhelmed due to a lack of resources. As of 2010, there are officially 4.6 PR professionals for every journalist. Consequently, many companies are hiring journalists to build media operations in-house. Instead of waiting for media to cover stories, brands are generating their own stories and becoming their own journalists, hence brand journalism.

 

How to Encourage a Brand Journalism Program in Your Company

What makes a brand journalism program

How to create a compelling brand journalism program

Changing the culture as far as marketing goes can be daunting, but not impossible. PR & marketing teams play pivotal roles in educating the company’s senior management about the concept and best practices in order to get the approval from the top down.

Pick a team member to compile examples of brand journalism success such as case studies, white papers, social media and websites. Start slowly with one story and once the initial project has seen positive results, it’ll be much easier to sell senior executives on creating a brand journalism program.

Effective Brand Journalism=Strong Storytelling

Building a successful brand journalism program comes down to the strong stories that you develop. One of the most effective ways to help create strong stories is to adopt a ‘newsroom mentality’ among your media team. Your team of marketing, PR and traditional journalists sit down and have pitch meetings, develop editorial calendars and regular ‘beats’ or areas of coverage are assigned. Even if you have a small team or work for a non-profit organization, you can still manage a brand journalism program.

 

Not all Stories Make Great Brand Journalism

Elements that make a really good story

What makes a strong story?

 

Just like in traditional journalism, your team needs an ongoing selection of compelling stories to drive buzz for your brand, but not every story will fit the brand journalism guidelines. Criteria is as follows:

-Focus on the audience (Always consider what they care about and how they’ll benefit).

-Find a voice by featuring a real person who tells the story. Having someone that the audience can relate to makes the story more compelling. Some great examples would be having community leaders share their perspectives, business leaders share their experiences and notable influencers to give their expertise. Remember that the person audiences connect to will rarely be your company’s top executives or media spokesperson.

-Tying your content to larger big picture issues and/or statistics from well-respected organizations can help to give your content some creditability and make it more newsworthy

-Keep your message simple. Do away with any corporate jargon and use plain language where possible to make sure you audience understands what you’re talking about

-Add visuals. As audiences naturally gravitate to visuals, make sure to include photos, videos, slideshows, infographics and any other visuals you can think of to raise engagement levels with your content

-Un-brand your content. This means removing all branding that doesn’t fit seamlessly into the content. In other words, your company name may not appear in the headline as it does in a typical news release. It’s much more likely to be mentioned in affiliation with your expert who features in the story. Keep any and all branding subtle

Create content with your audience in mind, with a simple message that‘s visually stunning and allow the real people in your organization to tell their stories, without putting the company brand front and center.

 

Getting Your Brand Journalism Program Out There

 

How to Pitch a Strong Story

Story Pitching

Distributing brand journalism content starts much the same way it would with traditional media relations: you find the right journalists, build those relationships and share the stories. The difference between brand journalism and traditional media relations is all about attitude; it’s less about ‘story pitching’ as it is ‘content sharing’. Building strong relationships with journalists who trust you means that they will view your brand journalism program as a source of valuable content, rather than just another PR campaign.

When you distribute brand journalism content, make sure that it’s easily accessible to the journalists you’re sending it to. Make the content easily downloadable, the photos & videos easy to save and brand elements (if relevant) such as high resolution logos easily available. You want to make it as easy as possible for journalists to share your content through social media, websites and alike, increasing the chance of you growing your own audience.

When it comes to getting your brand journalism content out there through your company channels, it’s important to keep each platform’s audience in mind. Best practices include re-purposing said content for several different social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter by shortening it or making it into infographic. Doing this helps to amplify your message across platforms and increases ROI.

Sometimes, companies choose to create separate website hubs to act as news media sites to host their brand journalism content as well.

However you choose to distribute your brand journalism content, developing such a program will allow you to deliver buzz for your brand, amplify messages you create and increase ROI-without relying on the constraints of traditional media.

Stay tuned for more informative posts and infographics on brand journalism, thought leadership, content marketing, social media and everything having to do with PR and marketing.

How to Write High Converting Emails

After sending out an email newsletter promoting an event, have you been noticing a lower click through rate and social media shares, compared to the previous campaign?

Has event attendance and media coverage also gone down and you’re stuck on how to fix it

Well, there’s a few important elements that you have to remember in order to fix a situation like this. If you get these things right, you’ll see increases in:

  • Email Open Rates
  • Clickthrough Rates
  • Event Attendance

The Most Important Tip to Remember

In order to write high-converting emails, you have to focus what you want each element such as the subject line, the content and the call-to-action TO DO.

Decide on what you want each email element to do before proceeding with the campaign. That way, you’re not muddying the campaign’s intent and confusing your customers.

The role of the email subject line

The subject line has only ONE JOB: to sell people on opening & reading your email. The goal is to get people to actually open the email to READ more about your event, product or service.

Keep the subject lines short (around 10 words, if possible) and compelling by letting audiences know right away what the email is about. If the subject line is too long, it will get cut off when prospective attendees view the email on mobile. If it’s about a gala fundraiser, mention the fundraiser in the subject line. If it’s about a networking event with prizes, mention that.

Avoid putting your call-to-action in your subject line such as Call now, buy now, click here or act fast, Using terms like these in your subject line along with words such as ‘purchase’, ‘free’, ‘discount’, ‘best’, ‘guarantee’ or ‘urgent’ will turn off prospective customers because they feel like they’re being pushed to buy and many of these words will also cause your campaign to go directly into the Junk Mail folder.

Make sure you also A/B test your email subject lines before sending out the actual campaign to see which version of your subject line is more popular with your contact list.

Create engaging content

Audiences respond best to engaging, interactive content. Incorporate images, videos, infographics and slideshows into your content where appropriate to help promote events, services and new initiatives. Make sure you diversify the content too, sending a mix of visual graphics and original/curated content to keep things interesting.

Also, personalize your e-newsletters by making sure to include the name of the person you’re sending the email to, showing prospective customers that you know who they are and care about their attendance at your event.

 

Make your calls-to-action stand out

Don’t wait until the closing paragraph of your email campaign to display your CTA. Making your CTV stand out with a button, bright colors and placing it in more than one location in your e-newsletter will make it easy for subscribers to purchase tickets, download an e-book or donate funds to your cause.

Make sure your CTAs are also direct and to the point on what you want subscribers to do and make sure you focus on ONE action. Adding CTAs that tell customers to do more than one action will confuse them and dilute its effectiveness.

Subscribe here for more information on email marketing templates, content marketing and public relations!

 

 

 

 

Unit Publicity for Indie Film & Television Portfolio

I’m pleased to announce my brand new 2017-2018 Unit Publicity Portfolio that showcases my experience in running PR campaigns and media relations strategies for indie film & television projects all over the world. If you’re interested in my PR strategies, please contact me for more info. Take a look at my case studies for more in-depth looks into my project as well.

CASE STUDY: Unit Publicity and Media Relations Campaign for Short Horror Film Heartless

Heartless Poster

 

THE CHALLENGE

 As a unit publicist with experience running public relations campaigns for short films, an actor at a film festival and a horror film moving through a competition, this film presented challenges I hadn’t previously dealt with in my other projects. For my other short films, I’d had the benefit of support through the film event I was working on (see my Crazy 8s case study) or it was a one-off event such as the TIFF strategy for Peter Dacunha or helping Black Land through the Cinecoup competition.

Heartless is my first American-directed and produced short horror film where I didn’t have a film event, competition or team behind me as a jumping off point and a sense of urgency to make the publicity campaign flow easier. Heartless, and by extension, the film’s award-winning production company, Sunshine Boy Productions, also has the distinction of being the first film I’d actively pursued for publicity.

An unintended benefit of this being my first major solo unit publicity campaign, however, was the ease in obtaining film reviews where it had previously been difficult for my other film projects. Not only did the fact that Heartless is a horror film make it much easier to obtain reviews, Kevin & Jennifer Sluder, the film’s director & executive producer (and owners of Sunshine Boy Productions) have also been readily available for interviews as the production company is their primary business, rather than a side venture.

THE SOLUTION

Focusing on local media (newspapers, magazines, blogs), indie film podcasts, blogs and horror review outlets, I updated my media database based on the region the film was screening at on the festival circuit. As a result, I was able to pitch Heartless to countless local media in regions such as Lansing, MI, Durham, NC, Calgary, Alberta and the greater Los Angeles area.

In addition, I was also able to pitch interviews and reviews for Heartless with numerous horror and indie film media outlets worldwide such as Ready, Steady, Cut out of the UK, Rue Morgue Magazine out of Toronto, Canada, Promote Horror out of the US, Dave Bullis’s Indie Film podcast out of the US and Popcorn Horror out of Scotland.

For results and subsequent press coverage, please read my Case Studies and see my Unit Publicity Portfolio for more project examples.

CASE STUDY: Unit Publicity & Media Relations Campaign for Season 3 of APTN’s Moosemeat & Marmalade

THE CHALLENGE

As the unit publicist for APTN’s third season of the Indigenous cooking series, Moosemeat & Marmalade, this production stood out from my other indie film projects for a few reasons. 1) It would be my first time doing publicity for a TV series, 2) It would also be my first time promoting Indigenous food culture and 3) As a recurring client of The Social Agency (a boutique PR agency I do contract work for), they’d already established press coverage from numerous outlets across Canada for the past two seasons that saw the show increase in popularity.

So as the new publicist coming into the project, I had both the added benefit & challenge of pitching Canadian media coast to coast as well as trying to establish new story angles for a series that had already covered a lot of ground over two seasons. Additionally, I didn’t want to just obtain press coverage from outlets already familiar with the TV series, the goal was to expand coverage to reach completely new audiences.

There was also the media relations strategy between the outlets and the two co-hosts; Cree bush cook/Indigenous rights activist Art Napoleon and UK born Chef Dan Hayes, owner of The London Chef Cooking School, to consider.

THE SOLUTION

 Focusing on story angles such as the first-ever gleaned Vegetarian Chili recipe (meaning it used leftover crops after the harvest) and Indigenous food culture and sovereignty, I pitched several mainstream major city newspapers, blogs and radio stations across Canada.

As the TV series also filmed in several locations on the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, Northwest Territories and overseas in the UK, I pitched the story angles to publications, radio stations and blogs located in these specific regions. Using the Indigenous food culture angle and Art’s passion for Indigenous food sovereignty and security, I was also able to secure interviews, coverage and recipes in Indigenous radio shows, newspapers and websites.

For the results & press coverage received, please go to Case Studies, where you’ll also find my other film & lifestyle PR campaigns. For more project examples, please check out my Unit Publicity Portfolio.

Online Team Collaboration and Organization Tools Part 2

Whether it’s the mad rush of the Christmas season or the busy summer sales rearing their heads, it can be tough enough to manage staff, new inventory and customer inquiries, without the added task of hiring new staff.

With so many people trying to manage new inventory and internal CRM systems, keeping everyone on task and on the same page can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. If you’ve been following my blog, there’s no doubt you’ve probably read my previous post on Top 10 Social Media Apps to Improve Productivity and Organization, but I thought I’d add a few more affordable/free options that you may not have heard of before but go above and beyond to give teams easy to use collaboration & organization platforms.

On the Same Page

With a cloud-based collaboration platform like Same Page, business owners can sign up for free and log into their team account on their phones, laptops or tablets, increasing organizational efficiency.

‘Team owners’ can directly message staff, post in team chat windows and even use video calling to host remote conferences with staff members to assist businesses with stores situated in different locations.

Staff who are added as team members can easily upload diagrams and charts that show sales progress and even upload videos and photos of new products & services on the team page. Tasks can be given due dates and reminders can be assigned to relevant members, while the team task list can filter duties accordingly so they can be evenly distributed.

Staff members are able to keep track of their progress with the official task tracker and calendars – both team and individual – are available so everyone is aware of deadlines, meetings and special events.

Stress-Free Freedcamp

Freedcamp prides itself on being an all-in-one solution for team collaboration and organization. Business owners can have discussions with their staff in one place instead of dealing with scattered email threads and staff members can organize files in a state-of-the-art file system, backing up all information offline. Managers can also control staff rosters, tracking time on multiple staff members across multiple days.

Freedcamp gives staff members the option to assign tasks and set a goal by a certain date, notifying the team with progress updates as the goal moves closer as well. The software allows retailers to duplicate project templates, which increases productivity and eliminates the need to spend time and energy recreating homogeneous project types. This platform also has unlimited storage and allows for unlimited projects. Business owners and team members can take the tool on the go through the iOS app on Apple products.

Fleep

Known as the ultimate platform for project communication, Fleep gives you email compatibility just by adding someone to Fleep teams (and their conversations) with their email address. They’ll still be able to see the conversations as normal emails if they’ve not Fleep members as well. It’s an open platform, so anyone who’s a Fleep user can send messages to you, whether they’re a member of your organization or not, making it one of the easiest platforms to use for cross-team project collaboration.

You can create, assign, search and track tasks within the Fleep task management system and the native pinboard allows you to pin and edit notes on the side of each conversation. Every conversation’s photos and other files  can be found to the side in a conversation specific file drawer and you’ll be able to integrate video and audio calls. You’ll be able to have full message history, unlimited conversations & teams, unlimited integrations, 10 GB of file storage and  native apps for iPhone, Android, Mac & Windows with the free account. For 5 €/user/month to be billed annually, you’ll have everything free in Fleep, 100 GB of file storage, the ability for your company name & logo to be shown, managed accounts & messages. It’s also flexible with API and integrations from Dropbox, appear.in, to Slack and Google Drive.

Notion

This platform is known as the ‘unified, collaborative workspace’ for wikis, notes and tasks. Unified with Slack, you’ll be able to manage anything. On the document side, you can organize the pages by nesting the pages inside one another to keep things clean and organized at the same time. For wikis, you can drag and drop or embed 30+ different types content from anywhere and the wiki will update in real time. Content you can put in the wiki includes PDFs, iFrames, videos, Google Docs & Google Maps. For tasks, you can also build the perfect visual task board and integrate it with Slack.

If you sign up for the free account, you’ll get 600 blocks (blocks are drag & drop content such as photos, videos, text blocks etc.) for the desktop version, unlimited blocks for mobile use, unlimited members/guest & 5 MB/file upload. If you choose the $8/user/month option, you’ll have unlimited usage/control over your workspace, unlimited blocks for desktop and mobile use, unlimited members/guests, no file upload limit, admin tools and priority support.

Scoro

This last platform’s probably the most expensive out of this list but it’s also the most comprehensive. For 19€/user/month with a minimum of 5 users, you’ll be able to manage everything about a project on one page from invoices and expenses, planned tasks/meetings and manage your project portfolio by using configurable statuses (such as in progress) and tags.  You’ll also have access to the company news feed, file management and sharing, custom fields for multiple projects, CRM & quote management, financial & work reports, Calendar, Toogl, Dropbox & Mailchimp integrations.

If you spring for the premium package at 29€/user/month with a minimum of 5 users, you’ll get access to all that plus the ability to schedule tasks & projects to individual team members, schedule team meetings into the calendar and have completed tasks go directly into the work reports, eliminating the need for timesheets. You can also schedule invoicing and send out late invoice reminders along with tracking billable hours and have integrations with both Quickbooks and Xero.

With the right team collaboration and organization tools, retailers can better manage staff tasks. The aim is to avoid drop-offs in productivity by allowing staff members to spend time on what matters: keeping their customers happy during the holiday rush and expanding business.

Investing a little time and energy in the short term to find the best team collaboration tools will pay dividends in the long term and ensure the holiday rush is smoother and far jollier.

 

How to Find & Develop Relationships with Social Media Influencers

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve probably read my posts on how unit publicity helps indie film, great advertising campaigns and tips on great tools to use to help manage social media and save time.

But with the rise of influencer marketing and platforms to help you manage said campaigns recent years, I’ve been asked about the best ways to develop influencer campaigns affordably.

If done correctly, influencer campaigns can drive word-of-mouth marketing and consumer growth, leading to influencers becoming brand ambassadors for companies. Brand ambassadors can help to generate fun and engaging organic content for your brand on a consistent basis, lead campaigns through email, social and advertising and help to elevate events you participate in.

In order to avoid missteps and choosing someone just based on their number of followers, make sure you outline goals you want the influencer campaign to accomplish and do your research on influencers.

With this post, I’ll be focusing on how to develop a plan for influencer marketing campaigns and how to find the best social media influencers for your brand.

Developing a Plan for Influencer Campaigns

As mentioned earlier, working with influencers can help to put a face to your brand and humanize the company. But how do you go about creating a plan to find influencers and run marketing campaigns with tangible goals?

You want to thoroughly plan out what you’re looking to do. Are you launching a new product or service? Is it an event you’re attending and/or organizing? Is it a promotion/contest you’re looking to gain more entries?  Who are you looking to influence to pay attention to this news, attend these events or enter a contest?

If you’re looking for an influencer to share a video helping to promote your indie film fundraiser, are you prepared to offer them exclusive tickets to the world premiere or a media screener with a small gift? What about offering them a chance to tour the set of your next film or perhaps a cameo on screen?

If you want an influencer to write a blog post, review your product or hype up an event, you have to think about what you’re willing to give influencers in-kind. Are you going to be sending them different products to review 3 times/year? Will you have exclusive VIP events that they’ll be invited to? Are you expecting them to post 4X/promotion via Twitter, Facebook and perhaps do an Instagram takeover for an event?

Once you have the general framework for influencer campaigns in place, you can tailor it to suit specific campaigns for certain influencers.

Next, I’ll be focusing on how to find the best social media influencers for your brand and the tools you can use to make it easier.

Finding the Right Social Influencers 

The right influencers can help you reach more of your core demographic by allowing you to piggyback on their follower base and they can also increase your SEO value by developing more backlinks to content you’ve posted.

As you search for influencers, you need to consider the criteria you’re looking for:

Relevance: Is the influencer is sharing content and do they have an audience that’s relevant to my brand? Would my own audience trust this person and be engaged with the content?

Reach:  Does the influencer have enough of an audience that the content we create/promote together will bring my brand value?

Make sure you also do your outreach slowly. Don’t approach influencers right off the bat with an offer of a brand partnership. Start by following them (if you’re not already), comment on conversations they’ve having and share their content.

 

How to Find Influencers Using Tools You (Probably) Already Have

On LinkedIn

As LinkedIn is already a great platform to discover secondary connections through groups and your own connections, you can use the search function to also find influencers. You can search for keywords such as “indie film” and “food bloggers” and pull up secondary connections that are relevant to your industry. Send them a message about their content (make sure you do your research about what they do) and ask them if they wouldn’t mind having a chat about it. Be honest about how you found them and start the conversation.

On Twitter

As you probably know, Twitter’s advanced search function is useful to look for the latest news items and notable Twitter handles. Pulling up any search using hashtags will allow you to see who’s talking about a certain subject such as #indiefilm or who identifies as a #techblogger. From there, you’ll have an idea of who is sharing content relevant to your brand and you can start following them, sharing their updates and making an effort to engage them in conversation.

Twitter’s also a great platform to find micro influencers among your own fans as well. Your own fans are already interested in your brand, so it’ll take less effort to convince them to work with you. Fans are already promoting your content and your brand without prompting, so why not make it a mutually beneficial partnership by formally giving them perks to help hype an event or write a review of some of your products that you’ll gift to them? Of course, fans being interested in and supporting your brand is only half the story, their audiences also have to be relevant to your company.

On Instagram

Looking through your Instagram followers is also great way to find micro influencers (you’d want the reach to be significant-between 1,000-10,000 followers). Take a look at what your followers are posting about, including the reach of their posts and if they’ve been sharing your updates. If they’re consistently posting about food & wine, indie film, sports/fitness and your brand is in those industries, they might be interested in partnering with your company.

Just like on Twitter, you can also search for influential hashtags such as #organicfood, #organicbeauty or #MMAfitness. You’ll get a list of top photos using any of those hashtags that have the most likes. Take a look at the accounts that posted these photos and see if they’d work as a micro influencer for your brand. If you’re a fitness brand or gym facility, you could consider giving them free passes to your facility to try out training and a few classes. If you make organic sauces, marinades and spices, consider giving the influencer a gift basket to try out your products and ask them to make a few of your tried and tested recipes.

 

Using Other Tools to Help Discover Influencers

FollowerWonk is a tool that can help you find Twitter influencers and you can add the first profile for free. Once you sign up, you can click on the ‘Search Bios’ tab and look into the advanced search options. You can tailor the search results based on location, number of followers and whether you’re searching for bloggers.

The social authority column is the best indicator of how influential someone is as it combines the number of followers with how much influence they wield over the followers. If you see low authority numbers that means they don’t engage their own audiences and aren’t worth your time.

Lastly, BuzzSumo is a great tool to help with influencer marketing. Though the pro option will set you back about $79/month, you’ll be able to search for Twitter influencers using specific keywords.

The number of followers will give you an idea of an influencer’s reach and the retweet/reply ratios will keep you informed of the influencer’s engagement rates. You’ll also be able to find influencers, bloggers, companies, journalists and regular people. You can also organize results by followers if you’re interested in reach or retweet/reply ratios. Sorting the results by authority will give you a good mix of reach & engagement. Those who have high page authority are seen as experts in their niche.

Let me know if you have recommendations for more affordable ways to find influencers & manage influencer campaigns! Keep it posted here for more content on marketing, PR and social media tools.

A Glimpse at the Best of the Underrated Indie Film Scene Part 1

 

For those of you who have been following my blog, you know how much I love and support indie film.  I’ve written about some of the goofy B-movies that I love, covered some awesome marketing campaigns for truly great films and given insight into how unit publicity can help films-and their primary storytellers-get the exposure and promotion they deserve. Promotion that will also help them achieve financing and distribution, which I’ve shared some ideas on and some truly awesome platforms that can help.

But what I haven’t done, is share some of the great short films & web series, done by deadly awesome directors who have some of the best creative minds I’ve ever seen. These films & web series span all genres from horror to comedy and film noir and even overlap on a few of them. They’re also from all over the world, from Canada and the US to internationally across the pond in the UK. I regularly chat with many of the production companies and directors on Twitter, sharing their latest projects, tagging them on some cool news and just generally talking about film.

If you know of any other awesome, thought provoking indie films I should check out, please let me know!

But without further ado, here’s the list, in no particular geographical, genre specific or likeability order.

Holding Back-Crossroad Pictures

In this short from the UK production company, directed by the talented Scott Lyus, a seemingly innocuous conversation between a young woman and her mother takes an interesting twist. You get the feeling during the conversation that there’s a lot in the young woman’s past that led to her estrangement from her family and that she’s trying to make amends. The twist comes out of nowhere but yet, is intriguing enough to make you sit down and go over everything you’ve just seen in your mind. Definitely a worthwhile 7 minutes.

 

The Missing Hand-23 ½ Films

The second short from the very first UK based production company I’d ever come across on Twitter, is a hilarious horror comedy. Without spoiling anything, it’s about two people who come across a missing hand and the unintended consequences of finding it. It’s the perfect mix of comedic timing and horrific circumstances. Definitely one of my top two faves from Daniel Harding and 23 ½ Films-top notch and worth the re-watch over and over again.

 

Play Violet For Me-Sunshine Boy Productions

 

For the third entry, we go back across the pond to the US, this time to an award winning film noir short from a LA based production company that I’ll be working with really soon. It’s the story of how smoke and mirrors can not only obscure the truth that’s right in front of your face but make you think of love that’s not really there. Foley Merrick’s obsession with the love of his life, Violet Dupree takes a tragic turn when he finds her dead on her kitchen floor. However, when he calls her twin sister Lila for help, things definitely take a darker turn and slowly, Merrick starts to realize that maybe what he believed to be true, was never true.

 

The Lobster-Guerrilla Motion Pictures

This absolutely gut-busting hilarious 5-part web series is from an Edmonton, Alberta based production company. There’s a chance you’ve probably seen my previous admiration of their short silent film, I Phub You on my Storyhive post.

But this series is definitely something different and it speaks to anyone who’s ever gone through a break up and you’re looking for some wisdom and advice. Here’s the difference, though, the advice guru in this series is a lobster! He bought the lobster from a grocery store and somehow, the thing doesn’t die and continues to dispense relationship advice through his break up! It’s the perfect series for anyone who might be feeling a little down and looking for an unconventional comedy to cheer them up.

 

Going for Broke-Red Castle Films

This comedic short film comes from slightly west of the previous web series, this time on the West Coast, in Vancouver. This production company, led by Jon Silverberg, was responsible for the awesome production values & effects on Static Alex, also featured on my Storyhive post and I’m super excited to see what their upcoming feature, Crypto, will bring to the table.

Basically, the premise of this short film is that a struggling semi-pro golfer struggles to keep things afloat financially for his teenage daughter following his divorce. He struggles on the circuit, losing his last few tournaments, before a hilarious suggestion from a friend results in a good performance. It definitely re-defines ‘going for broke.’

 

Two Pound Forty Pence-23 ½ Films

The second entry on this list from this uber-talented British filmmaker, it’s actually the first film I’ve ever watched from this production company. A man only has enough change on him to catch the last bus home and he’s pursued through the streets by a persistent homeless man. It’s 6 and a half minutes of great nightmarish tension and thrills-and the fear of being caught by someone is something I think all of us who have had to walk home late can relate to.

 

Coffee-Dark Tower Pictures

We’re going back to the US for this entry, this time to a production company that was created by two Elon University students in North Carolina.

Their short film, Coffee, is a film noir about a blind date-with an interesting twist. While I’m sure many of us have gone on blind dates, both good and bad, and might have even set our friends up on a few-I can guarantee that no blind date you’ve been on has a twist quite like this. The film may be just over three minutes long, but the noir atmosphere and the twist make you want to see what happens next.

 

The Face of Vengeance-Kessel Run Productions

We’re in the Land Down Under, in Adelaide, to be more specific, for the next film noir. A hard-boiled detective is driven to the brink to apprehend a suspected serial killer, who murdered his brother. The fact that the suspected serial killer is the mayor’s son makes him virtually untouchable to the law and the detective takes the law into his own hands to get revenge.

 

The Clown Attacks-Crossroad Pictures

Moving back to the UK with the second entry from the amazingly talented Scott Lyus, this film illustrates exactly why so many people hate clowns. On the one hand, you do feel slightly sympathetic towards the clown for being rejected but on the other hand, his reaction is why people fear clowns. So, if you’re not too afraid of clowns or you want something to ease you into watching IT, I’d recommend this gem from Crossroad Pictures.

 

Zombie With a Shotgun-Hilton Ariel Ruiz

 

We’re in NYC for this 5-part zombie web series, which also has a companion comic book series. This web series, which is also being turned into a feature, is about how a young couple sees their love tested when Aaron ends up infected with a mysterious virus. How he becomes infected is a bit of a mystery, although there is references to a doctor’s appointment and blood tests. But what’s more important, is how long he can fight the infection for, whether or not it can be reversed-and what it means for his relationship if he does turn into a zombie. It’s definitely a more sympathetic look at zombies, certainly a vibe closer to that of Warm Bodies, where zombies are not just mindless, hungry creatures. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this series will progress.

 

The Killer Bird-23 ½ Films

The longest short film and the third entry from the UK based production company, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this one is another horror film or a thriller, similar to the ones from Daniel Harding that I listed earlier. However, the title is simply a metaphor. Wrapped in guise of a young man hunting for and attempting to capture a killer bird, it’s actually an interesting social commentary on some of anti-immigration sentiments that Daniel himself has overhead from people, based on what they hear in the news. The dialogue and the characters are heavily influenced by social groups, key political figures and people with far-right agendas. It’s not a conventional horror film but it’s horror more on a social level. And that, in some ways, is much more frightening. Give a watch if you’re looking for something more though provoking.

Honorable mentions go to the humorous Cupid and the intriguing Ring, Ring.

 

Dead of Night-Kessel Run Productions

For the last film on this list, we go back to Adelaide. This short film is has a more abstract story than the others. Basically, you see a man crouched in an empty room with a shotgun by his arm and a note that reads “The man with the key is the one.” Whoever opens the door in the house will get shot. It seems straight forward, but there is a twist and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

 

Let me know if you think there are other awesome indie films I should be watching! Stay tuned for more posts on great films, publicity and the business of film!