You are no doubt reading this right now on your phone, tablet or computer, so you know as well as anyone that the world is truly wired. We are all interconnected in so many ways it’s difficult to fathom. On any given afternoon, a kid in Zimbabwe can view a music video that was recorded the night before in Winnipeg, then sent to Japan that morning for editing then passed through Facebook’s servers in Europe and the U.S. before being posted online.
Trying to imagine what would happen if the internet suddenly went away–aside from general panic and probable rioting in the streets–is an exercise in terror for those of us who are addicted to being online.
And with this unprecedented global interconnectedness comes unprecedented opportunity for up and coming performers to make their mark on global culture.
It also brings unprecedented opportunity for screwing up in a very public fashion. So here are a few tips for the modern internet-based lifeform who happens to be an actor when it comes to building your brand in the wild, wild west of the interwebs.
1. Be ready to do some homework
One of the biggest mistakes individuals and businesses make when it comes to promoting themselves online is thinking that all you have to do is slap up a Facebook fanpage and a Twitter account, and the offers will start rolling in. However, as we all know, there is just too much information out there for most people to pay attention to everything they scroll past. What you are going to have to do is pick a couple of platforms and really devote some time to getting them up and running with a steady stream of interesting and original posts. Get yourself networked with a variety of other like-minded users by chasing down hashtags and connecting with friends of friends of friends who have similar interests. But focus hard on just a couple of apps. If you are constantly scrambling to put up a new post on six or seven different platforms, they are all going to suffer, as will you!
2. Networking is continuous
As you build a circle of new friends and fans on your chosen platforms, don’t forget to include not only new people and institutions you encounter, also bring along people you already know. Your network shouldn’t ignore older friends as you make new ones–it should be all-inclusive. You want to reach as many people as possible, right? Plus, you have no idea what kind of common connection you might have with your professor from Acting 101 class that could come in handy someday. Use hashtag searches to discover like-minded people on Twitter and Instagram, and search for groups using keywords on Facebook, constantly growing your circle of friends. In fact, that should be something you work on every day: expanding your reach. One great big caveat: it is never, repeat never acceptable to hunt down and personally contact industry pros if you haven’t met them. To follow someone on Twitter or like their Facebook fan page is fine of course, but if you dig up the personal email address or personal Facebook account of an industry professional you’ve never met and start pummeling them with original scripts for your one-man show about magical space ferrets saving the universe, you’re asking for trouble.
3. Take yourself seriously
Keep in mind as you build your profile on a variety of platforms that the first thing casting directors are going to do when they consider you for a big role is to do a Google search on you. If you are trying to market yourself as a professional actor, make sure that is what they’re going to see when they look you up. Consider your online presence a perpetual audition: since you never know who is going to be watching, try to avoid posting things that don’t present you in the best light as a professional. This isn’t to say you have to scrub your Facebook profile or suppress your personality. Far from it; casting agents and directors can learn a lot about an individual and what makes them tick–and thus how they might fit a certain role–via online posts. But perhaps photos of long-ago Spring Break antics are best left out of your current posts. Consider that hundreds–and maybe someday, thousands–of people are potentially following your posts. And don’t forget that the internet is forever: always think before you tweet. Better to delay weighing in on every single breaking event by a few minutes rather than post something regrettable that will take a lot longer to explain away.
4. Your you is unusual. Use your you your way!
No, that’s not a vocal warm-up. The idea is that you not only want to reach people online, you want to CONNECT with them. To that end, think about what makes you stand out from the pack, and find ways to highlight that quality or skill. If you are a juggler, put up plenty of fun videos of you performing. If you play music, get videos up that highlight your best songs. If you are a nut about the gym, post photos and info about your workouts. The idea is to show yourself not only doing something for which you have talent or a unique look, it is also to show you having fun with it. You have no idea of the interests most of the people you casually encounter online–until you do. These kinds of indirect appeals can grab like-minded people’s attention and make a huge splash if the right person stumbles upon them.
5. Connect yourself to receive as well
Don’t forget that the internet is a two-way street of communication. You need to do more than post and wait for the adulation to wash over you; you need to show your appreciation for your online friends as well. Comment, like, offer congratulations, suggest collaborations and so forth whenever possible and appropriate. While we’re on the subject of being connected, setting yourself up to receive updates is a great way to get the jump on the competition when it comes to auditions. Sites like nycastings not only allow you to direct submit yourself to casting calls for auditions and put your information in front of thousands of casting agents, they have an email service that will send you a notification when there is an audition that fits you. You’re constantly receiving all kinds of notifications on your phone anyway, right? Might as well buzz for a good reason! The point is you need to set yourself up for success using any and every avenue possible that is available to you. Don’t just dip your toe in the information stream as you look for your next booking–scoop it up with both hands and drink deep!