Social media has rapidly become an indispensable tool for providing exposure for aspiring creative professionals. Whereas a few years ago actors could get by without a social networking presence, nowadays it’s become something of an expectation for ambitious and emerging performers to be active online.
The key where actors are concerned, much like other industries, is to create a compelling and personal brand that reflects who they are and their aspirations, and is backed up by content listing their experiences. However, with such a wealth of social networks available (and even more industry-specific job posting and forum sites) it can be difficult to know how best to invest precious time and resources.
Why actors need a social media presence
It’s now clearer than ever that actors should be investing in their social media presence. As time has passed the way that new roles are acquired has become inherently digitalised. In order to keep pace with a busy global world, auditions have become increasingly video-focused. Casting agents have also caught on and are beginning to look to social media platforms to discover talent.
According to a study conducted in 2015 casting directors believe talent only accounts for 7% of casting decisions. While the aesthetics of an actor are undoubtedly important, directors are now also in the habit of weighing up the quality of talent online. This exploration actually surpasses just content; professionals look at the personality and influence of an individual by exploring rates of engagement and social followings.
So will social media get you cast?
The short answer is no. Social media is not about getting cast in a major role – it’s about keeping in touch with people in the industry, getting noticed and sharing your story in order to develop connections that could potentially assist you in the future. Casting is still very much something that happens through legitimate agencies and requires appropriate training and knowledge. Social media is just an integral marketing tool.
The unfortunate swing for actors on social media
Unfortunately, nailing social media for actors is something of a tightrope walk. On one side you have no social presence whatsoever, which in a digital age is something which will cause you to be easily forgotten about – and there is quite literally nothing worst than being a forgettable actor. On the other side, the side of over-embellished content and foot-in-mouth interaction, you risk being the ruin of your own reputation. In the centre however is where great things can start to happen – people will begin to notice you, spread the word and share your content. That’s the exposure you want to aim for.
To tread the line between the two takes a great deal of understanding from the get-go. Focus on having a clear understanding of how you want people to perceive you as a performer, and an awareness of the sort of networks that might help you achieve that, and you’re onto a winner.
Focus on creating a human brand
Before you get carried away in content, take time to define how you want to be perceived by your audience. For any brand to be successful on social media takes authenticity and humanity, because by its very nature social networking is a social endeavour that requires real people to work. This means swaying away from using your abilities and successes to merely promote yourself. Your personal brand should stem primarily from your personality and secondly from what you want to achieve – for example, if you’re a naturally jovial person who wants to become a successful comic actor, your tone needs to reflect that.
Share everything you do
Use quality content, such as videos on YouTube and professional shots on Instagram, to show people how great you are. Great content marketing is about displaying to the world what you can do, not telling them. This is where many actors fall short. We can sometimes have an overwhelming desire to share a clip purely because we are featured, but if that clip isn’t any good it simply can’t reflect you in a good light. Showcasing yourself is of the utmost importance, but keep your integrity and don’t sell out your talent before you’ve even begun.
Remember, it’s not all about you
Be sure to share and promote content that isn’t about you too. There’s a clear line between promoting yourself and being arrogant. By breaking up your features with other relevant content, including that of industry friends and contacts, you’re far more likely to stay on the promotion side.
Interact and engage
As you build your arsenal of videos and images and more people start to interact with you, your personal voice will begin to develop. In theory, the people who appreciate your personality will become your advocates. In the world of social media marketing, growth is big business, but also commonly misunderstood. Whereas a huge paid-following might look good on the face of it, it’s no use to you if it isn’t engaged.
Organic growth is key here. You want to be building a community of users who are interested in you as an actor. These are the people who will prove integral influencers to your reach further down the line. In order to encourage that engagement you need to be reactive and interactive. Bear in mind that behind every piece of engagement (like, share, retweet) is a real person. Say thank you, ask their opinion, just generally make them feel appreciated for reaching out.
Don’t ignore negativity
Nothing harms a brand more than ignoring negative comments. When you decide to glaze over negativity you also inadvertently make a comment about how serious you are about succeeding; people will see your radio silence as an inability to respond to criticism and thus a lack of passion and drive. Be humble, appreciate others and try to allow yourself to learn from these comments. Bear in mind that going on the defensive is dangerous territory, and it’s very hard to redeem yourself after losing your cool.
Choose your platforms and be consistent
It’s far better to be a superstar on one platform than mediocre on many, so in the early stages it’s a good idea to focus your efforts in one place. When you do interact across multiple networks, be sure to tailor your messages to each audience. Bear in mind the restrictions on what you can/cannot post changes dramatically from network to network – for example character restrictions on Twitter and visual content on Instagram. Develop a posting strategy for each you decide to use and stick to it. Consistent messages is key to revolution and evolution – just don’t be overbearing.
Be careful who you reach out to
Interacting and engaging with users across social networking is a great way to develop your following. It isn’t, however, a way to get jobs. Reaching out to casting professionals that you don’t have a personal relationship with is a potentially damning endeavour. You will become an annoyance and your name will be tainted.
Bear in mind that big names are now not only actors, they are influencers, brand ambassadors and social media gurus. Becoming social-savvy now will only benefit aspiring actors in the future. Any questions? Tweet us – @GiraffeSM.