Lisa Summers | Special to The Sun
With the Sonoma International Film Festival only weeks away, it’s not too early to plug into the buzz. For the third year running, Celeste Winders and Donna Hays of Word Mice are the social media magicians behind the hidden curtain of the SIFF.
Word Mice, just three years old, is a woman-owned and Sonoma-based social media consulting team. Their commitment to personalized service for their clients has paid off. Last year the SIFF was named among the top 21 festivals for social media, making the SIFF a model for how social media can create and strengthen relationships within the broader film festival community, including the media, the filmmakers and panelists and local businesses.
“The use of social media,” says Winders, “creates richer experience for everyone attending. They can connect instantly with festival goers as well as the filmmakers, actors and actresses and producers.”
Adds Hays, “One of our goals is to use social media to help to recognize the many sponsors and community supporters of the festival.”
Yet, merely having a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest is not enough to retain followers or engage them in the interactive dialogue these platforms are designed to encourage.
“In the past few years we’ve seen that, in general, festivals are polishing up their social media game because it’s become a huge part of how people connect; it’s really a requirement now to compete. There are a lot of festivals out there; your festival needs to stand out,” according to Winders.
The difference between having a social media presence and cultivating a social media community is, she says, “really caring and paying attention to the fans and followers. You wouldn’t want to hang out with someone who just sat around talking about themselves all the time.
“For filmmakers, this is a huge opportunity to share their film with their audience on a personal level. For local businesses it’s an opportunity to take advantage of thousands of new patrons and help make their Sonoma experience one that is memorable, one that they will want to have again and again.”
In addition to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, fesival-goers will be able to check in at various venues on Foursquare. “This element was a lot of fun last year,” Winders says. “Local businesses can use Foursquare to offer check-in deals for festival pass holders. SIFF is terrific at supporting any business that needs help engaging and connecting with the festival audience.”
This year Word Mice have a few new tricks up their sleeves. They have added Pinterest to their social media menu, are busy increasing and expanding Foursquare and other fun apps that participants can use to “check in” at the 2012 SIFF. Winders adds, “We are also using QR codes prior to and during the festival; people should be on the lookout for those and get ready to scan them with your phones.”
Local business interested in becoming sponsors to the 2012 SIFF should contact the film festival office directly at 933-2600.
Where to find the SIFF:
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/sonomafilmfest