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Interview – Social media for connections and self-promotion

January 4, 2011

Kieran Mithani is a motion graphics designer and photographer who has used a variety of social media platforms to gain recognition in his industry. At the age of 22, he landed a number of high-profile jobs as a result of sharing and self-promotion online, and is currently producing video for MTV. He says it happened because of the connections he made online. We talk to him about different platforms and how to use them.

Q. Which social media platforms do you use?

I use Twitter to get to a broad audience, making contacts, posting links. Facebook for people I directly know, Tumblr and Posterous as blogging platforms, Vimeo for video work, Flickr for photos.

Q. What’s good about Vimeo and Flickr?

There’s an artistic community engaged in those sites – it’s a real community who go on every day. Particularly with Vimeo – everyone’s checking it. I check Vimeo and Flickr every day and I’m sure there are people who are more into it than me – they ‘favourite’ everything, recommend things, they’re active, it’s not a passive community. So if you upload a video it will be on somebody’s list somewhere.
Q. How have you used them?

I have all my video posted on Vimeo, showcasing the graphics and other work I have done – if they see that they might then visit my other site, ISpeakInPictures (ISIP), and then bookmark that. On ISIP I post tutorials on certain motion graphics techniques and if people start talking (online) about the tutorials you get noticed.

Q. How did you get the job working for MTV and Viacom?

They were looking for work on ‘orbs’. They searched on Vimeo for the sort of thing they were after and came across quite a few tests based on a tutorial I had done on ISIP. Where people have tried out my techniques they will link back to the tutorial I had done – MTV/Viacom saw that a lot of the videos they liked were linking back to my tutorial and looked at my ‘showreel’ (posted on Vimeo). They called me in for a chat and offered me a job. Now I am working for Viacom (the company that owns MTV) doing an animation for their brand. I also got a job with an apps company because they saw my showreel on Vimeo. If they see a video by me on Vimeo they can click on my name and see every video I’ve posted.

Q. So the community is co-operative?

The good thing about a community like Vimeo is that if you haven’t been credited, then people will comment and say, “I think you should credit this guy” and post a link back to you. It enables you to spread the word without really doing anything, people are doing it for you. That helps you to open up an avenue.

Q. How do you use Tumblr and how does it help?

I use Tumblr as a dumping ground for videos and photos I see that I like. When I do a post on there it tweets automatically. If a site has a Tumblr icon I just click on it and it adds it to my list, so people can see what I like.

Q. So it’s about being useful to people?

Yes, so people will follow me because I’m letting them know interesting stuff and they’ll link to me in return later. It’s a sort of round robin situation. My work will be posted and I post other people’s work and hopefully it helps us both. You can get your name out there in these different ways.

Q. How do you post photos?

For photos I use Flickr. I also put them on a Posterous site because it is really simple – I can post on email, iPhone or online and it gives a nice look to have a linear format. But it’s not such an active community.

Q. What about Facebook?

Not so much on my personal profile because it’s mainly people I somehow know anyway – it doesn’t have a huge impact. I have pages on Facebook, for ISIP and for BoomApps – an app company I run with a friend.

Facebook is good for a big community but not to start off. If you already have a large following Facebook is the place but it isn’t a place to grow a community to begin with. There’s no real chance to make the connections with people you don’t already know a bit. I do use Facebook for personal interaction. But don’t use Twitter for personal use anymore – like what I’m thinking about things – nothing that’s not related to work.

Q. Is it tough to keep everything going at the same time?

I don’t do as much on ISIP because you get busier, but I still try to post up there every couple of weeks. Recently I gave away some scripts I’ve written and gave a video on how to set them up. The key to all of this is consistency. That’s the key for people who are following you too. You forget people if they don’t blog or post regularly. So I would say, always be talking.

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