Social Media Will Improve Your Career
As an actor or presenter, YOU are your business. And in this competitive digital age, your online presence is your ‘shop front’. Social media gives performers a massive (free) opportunity. Here are the top five reasons why you should develop your online presence:
1. A Global Audience
Before the Internet, to showcase your work and get in front of audiences you had to put on an event: a play, a musical, a film screening, a comedy night… a performance of some kind. You had to arrange a production team, a venue, marketing, send letters of invitation, ensure the press were there to cover your event. This can be a costly and potentially hit-and-miss exercise, especially if you are just starting out. You would only be able to reach audiences who were in a specific location and it had to fit their individual schedules. Today, you can build a free online portfolio of work that can be viewed by people all over the world, at their own convenience. You can create all the tools and resources online that someone would need to find out about you and connect to you. You work can be shared easily, and your message can spread like wildfire.
2. Ten Thousand Hour Rule
Outliers: The Story of Success is a book by Malcolm Gladwell. After making a study of what contributes to high levels of success, Gladwell reinforces that the key to success – in any field- is to practise for 10 000 hours. Quite simply, you as a performer today have easy access to all the tools and technology you need to be creating your own work and outputting it online for audiences to see. It’s no secret that becoming a successful actor or presenter can be a difficult journey, but you can be empowered as you go along. For example, if you have a computer with a webcam, you can record your self acting or presenting to camera and upload it to YouTube. If you have an iPhone or a smart phone with a camera, you can create short films and share them on Facebook. If you want to practise writing plays, you can publish your own blog posts with excerpts of your scripts. They don’t have to be masterpieces, but you will be adding to your 10 000 hours. There’s something in sharing your work publically too; it helps you to become better and you can gain (respectful) feedback from supportive online communities.
3. Connection to the Community
The single most amazing aspect of social media is that it allows you to connect with people that you otherwise might never come in contact with. Think of your favourite director; chances are you can follow him or her on Twitter- you can receive real time updates of their ideas! What about that independent filmmaker on the other side of the world? You can stay connected to their Vimeo films and support them while watching their work progress. Imagine that you can like the Facebook page of your local casting directors and staying on the cutting edge of upcoming auditions. Not to mention, the possible connections you can make with other actors and presenters. You can mutually support each other and even strike up artistic collaborations.
Here is a BIG tip: many opportunities for work will come up if you are in the ‘right place at the right time’ online. Production companies often post when they are looking for a presenter. Casting directors often post about auditions or last minute fill-ins needed. Independent creatives will broadcast online when they need a team member. The opportunities will surprise you, so keep an eye out!
4. Be Searchable, Build a Fan Base
It’s important that you can stand out from the crowd. You are unique and have qualities that you alone can bring to a production. But how will you ever be found if you aren’t online carving a niche for yourself? Having content on social media sites, and being connected via social media makes you extremely searchable. Google your name, do you dominate the front page? What happens if an agent or a casting director or a producer wants to Google you… will what they see help you book your next job? If you’re an Irish TV presenter with a bias for fashion and comedy… that’s a niche! Your social media output will ensure you don’t get lumped with corporate presenters or sports presenters, for example.
You can also help to build a fan base, which is extremely valuable. Productions are always looking for a name talent to help make a production successful. But even if you’re not a huge Hollywood star, this is something you can offer to productions too! If you’re able to promote a production to your 1000 Facebook fans, or your 500 Twitter followers, you have something extra to offer. Many people have also found themselves as ‘niche celebrities’. You only have to look on YouTube for comedy web series’ and you will find entertainers who you have never heard of, but have 10million views on their video blogs!
5. Develop a Credible Reputation
Again, you are your business. When you’re looking for a service, most people will go to Google and see what they can find out about different businesses. You ask: Does this business have good feedback from other customers? Does this business look professional? Will I get value for money? What can this business offer?
Your collective social media output creates an experience for people who are searching for you. You can create a very professional online presence for yourself as a talent. So think about your profiles online (or lack of profiles), what do they say about you? Are you creating a positive experience for your audience online?
All of these points lead back to securing work, becoming a better performer and connecting with the community… elements very positive for a creative career!
So, what next?
Think about creating an online presence for yourself. As an actor or performer, consider Twitter, YouTube or Vimeo, a Facebook Fan Page, a Blog and industry specific sites like To Be Seen.
You need good ‘marketing collateral’ like a headshot, images and a showreel. You will need to create professional looking profiles so make sure you add a quality Twitter background a Facebook cover photo, a nice blog design, and every profile has complete biographies and information filled out. If in doubt, research some of your fellow performers who have a handle on their online presence and take a look at a few examples of how it can be done well.
You also need to keep your social media sites updated, so a good rule of thumb is:
Post on Facebook a few times a week,
Blog once a week,
Post a video once a month,
Keep your other profiles updated with your current information.
And connect with relevant people in your industry.
Social media will help you on your journey. Give it a go and enjoy the experience!