Hanging out at the School was like being in a farmhouse that had been overrun by a bunch of music-addicted hippies and then picked up by a cyclone and dropped into the middle of an enlightened urban area.
Some people say that social media is ushering in a new age that will line our pockets, save our souls, and encircle the world with rainbows. But too often putting up all those posts is just a bothersome time suck that demands tons of effort for little return.
Filmmaker and Buzzards Bay Film Fest adviser Nick Francis, however, is making Facebook and Twitter pay off. “I’ve never placed an advertisement anywhere,” he says. Instead, he boosts his business with a flood of posts (5,038 tweets and counting); not infrequently “someone sends me an email and says ‘Hey, I see you always talking about this and that and I need a video or I need a website.’ Just one of those a year makes it all worth it.”
I spoke with Francis in late March, when he was in pre-production for a ten-day shoot in Beijing and Shanghai for Rosetta Stone, the language-learning software company. A native of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Francis is the founder of Franchise Studios, which offers brand development and marketing services for web, video, film, print, and social media. His work has appeared in the Short Films Corner at Cannes and flashed across NASDAQ’s 10-story Times Square LED screen. He’s finishing up a documentary about the last Azorean whalers, and with Jeremiah Hernandez, owner of New Bedford’s U.G.L.Y. Gallery, he hosts “Make It Happen,” a one hour radio show about local culture and events that broadcasts every Sunday at 10 AM on WBSM-AM 1420.
Francis says that the social media space has become so crowded, with so many innumerable Facebook ‘Likes’ and re-re-re-posted links, that savvy strategy is key. His own tweets form a kind of correspondence course, a cascade of tips, links, and advice intended to show “we’re active in the space and that we know what we’re talking about. We focus on other businesses and strategies that our peers might find interesting to employ themselves.” He also throws in an occasional joke or picture from his daily life, so that he pops up among the tweets on website design, Facebook strategies, cool apps, and hot startups, as someone that his followers can trust and like. Once that hurdle is cleared, he says, he can “work toward the end result: making someone else’s business successful.”