Keep the Vibe Going: Social Media for Performers During Shutdown
As Veterans, we have been in a “hurry up and wait” position, and we have also faced times where we are going through hell and we just got to put one foot in front of the other. Actors and others in entertainment can apply these lessons during this downturn / “stay at home”. Because things are still moving in entertainment – if only behind the scenes.
First, in social media maintain an identity and guard it. As an actor, you want to be known as flexible and versatile, but on social media and in the beginning of your career, it’s best to be known for a few attributes which come together to form an image. (This is similar to a brand, but not as “locked in” as a brand.) Think of five or six words that describe you and try to stick to posts which highlight those words. And if you are really concerned about being typecast, then maybe use ‘versatile’ as one of words. Use these words as #hashtags. Social media tends to favor those people with a strong image – not a broad list of attributes.
Second, in relative to the first point, do not post divisive political opinions and don’t get in arguments. You do not want to be turning anyone off because you want a wide fan base- it makes it easier to hire you. Even if casting directors or directors agree with your politics, they still might not cast you or want to work with you. You can avoid this by keeping separate profiles – with one for your acting and one anonymous for politics.
Third, work with other actors and performers who you know and are familiar with. One of the things you can do is have another actor be your guest on your page for a day. Or do an interview on your site with another actor – keep it short. Take photos with another actor – while social distancing or wearing masks or whatever.
Fourth, engage on social media and comment on what others are posting – build these social media bonds. After you have posted one or two things on your profile for that day, take the time to engage with the people that you follow or find interesting. Help to promote your contacts by sharing their images, making funny comments about them, or complimenting them. That’s time much better spent than engaging in politics.
Fifth, only post twice per day at the most. Posting too much content washes out the content that you do post, and pushes it down the page. Try to post quality images and thoughts, rather than quantity. Do not view social media as a chattering conversation with your friends – at least not when you are trying to promote an image as an actor or entertainer.
Sixth, be visual. Social media has evolved to be more and more of a visual medium. If you are not good at taking selfies, watch a video of how to do it and learn it. Or work with someone else, another actor, or a partner or spouse, and exchange photography. Do not fall into the trap of always wanting to be the focus of the photograph. Take photos with others, take photos of cool things you see, take photos where you are on the outer 1/3 of the photo and something interesting is on the other 2/3s. In other words, you don’t always have to be dead center of the image, no matter how good looking you are. Close-up after close-up of your face gets weird after a while because you can come across as if you think you are the center of every production.
Seven, be authentic and be in it for the long-term. The goal should be to gather real followers who have an authentic relationship with you. Often times, if you use tricks or gimmicks to gather followers, you will only be attracting bots, fake profiles, and followers who don’t really engage. If you talk to advertising and media executives about what they look for in a profile, you’ll find that it’s not all about follower count any more, it’s about authentic followers and engagement.
Eighth, one “trick” is to plan your social media out for the week. It’s easier to line up and plan out your social media on a given morning -like every Friday. This helps to avoid it seeming like a task every day, and it’s not boring. You can also strategize how one post can set conditions (notice how I use the military term) for exploitation later in the week. For example, you post a photo of you and your dog on Tuesday, and you post how you are nervous about going to the Veterinarian. Maybe take a photo at the vet. Then, after the vet you post a photo of you and your happy dog after surviving the vet. That way, you’re telling a story throughout the week.
Ninth, be the focus of your page/profile and be clear about why it is there. Don’t create a profile because you “kinda want to get into acting”. Or don’t mix purposes. Come right out and name your page: Jody Dufflebag, Actor Be bold.
Tenth, finally have some of your military photos, but don’t be one-dimensional. Do not brand yourself as “That ex-military guy”. It’s just too simplistic. Even for guys who are looking for military-roles or looking to cash in on their military service, one or two military photos now and then is all we need to get it. Veteran can be one word that goes into your list of words that builds your image, but you should combine that with some words that round you out. Perhaps “athletic” – and show some photos of you playing sports. “Leader” – show some photos of you leading a team. “Outdoorsy” – show some photos of you civilian camping.
In conclusion, I have broken all of these rules – but I’m learning what to do and what not to do. As someone who is primarily a writer and director, it has been very hard to promote myself. Being an Army Intelligence guy, I’m also shy to say what I really know. BTW, I obtained this list by working with a social media pro who works with bars and clubs throughout Vegas and Hollywood, and I realized that many actors are in the same situation as bars and clubs are during the shut-down. They need to keep the vibe going.
You can find Mark on Twitter at @markoneillpi
or on Facebook facebook.com/noladetective