It’s a mad, mad, mad digital world out there, and we’re all caught up in it to some degree. No matter how badly we might like to escape from the constant pull of the digital screen demanding our attention, it’s simply a fact of life these days.
But there are also some truly wonderful things that come with the digital life, especially for actors. Many of us can’t imagine it, but back in the “good old days” agencies and casting agents did their casting via thousands of manila envelopes mailed back and forth containing actors’ headshots and resumes. One prominent L.A. CD said that in her first job as an intern way back when, she was responsible for opening and sorting through 150-200 such envelopes every day.
I know, right?
Just the mere fact of New York and L.A. agencies going digital in the past couple decades has probably put a huge dent in the US Postal Service’s revenues.
But even in an era where smart phones, tablets and computers carry the life-blood of society and keep us connected in so many ways, there are still far too many actors out there who haven’t fully taken advantage of the huge potential for connecting with agents, casting directors, and producers via the internet. Here are a few suggestions on how to take your social media game to the next level!
1. Naming Rights
Grab your name right away when you join a new platform, or even if you haven’t joined it yet and are just exploring it. If someone else already has your name, add “actor” or “official.” You can check to see if your name is available on multiple sites using https://namecheckr.com/ Being easily searchable is a huge feature of modern technology—imagine those old-school casting directors searching through the actual, physical phone book for an actor’s number if they ever lost it! The point of getting hold of your actual name is so you will come up under a variety of platforms in one search. If a casting director is interested in you they might look you up to check out your style and previous work—don’t confuse the issue by giving yourself half a dozen unrelated cutesy handles!
2. Heading to the Top
In keeping with the idea of establishing yourself in one easy-to-search name is the idea of using your actual headshot across all your social media platforms. This makes it easier to identify you when someone is searching for you. Plus, repetition sells! Ask Don Draper or his spawn currently operating in the advertising universe. Seeing your awesomely professional headshot, one that conveys a great story about you and your personality over and over can have a positive effect on how casting directors and producers see you. Keeping your face in front of their eyes as much as possible works to your advantage.
3. Keep it Professional
This isn’t to say that you should sanitize your profiles and scrub them of anything fun, or take down your vacation pics where you were seen with a basketball-sized margarita or anything. However, if you are hoping to take your career as a professional actor to the next level, you might at least consider what kind of story you are telling about yourself via your social media posts—not only to your friends, but to people who have never met you. If every post of you seems to be something about raging late into the night, doing shots, or otherwise going wild, you will create an impression for people who might be considering hiring you in a professional capacity, and it might not be the one you want to create.
4. The World Through My Eyes
Also, think carefully about what your sites look like in general. Visualize what impression a stranger is going to get from your profiles before they even read a word. As stated above, your headshot should feature prominently. But also you should consider the appearance of your header photo, your cover photos, and the artwork you feature on your profiles or websites. Much like with any website, if viewers are greeting with an insane, seizure-inducing attack of anime-style slashing colors and auto-play sounds, you’re not going to keep anyone around very long—including casting directors.
5. Fwd: Fwd: Fwd:
You should also pay close attention to what you choose to repost and pass along that comes from other sources. Yes, it often seems as though everything on the internet these days comes from somewhere else. (Is there a factory on a distant planet somewhere that produces original content and funnels it down here for us Earthlings to share and reshare over and over again? Because nobody here seems to be MAKING anything…) But the thing is, even if you didn’t write it or create the meme, it is incumbent on you to consider how it might look to strangers thinking of hiring you. Check out the ENTIRE piece you are posting, and check out the source material too if it is in any way controversial. Remember the story of Senator Paul Ryan a few weeks ago proudly posting a story about a secretary who had tweeted that her additional savings from the recent tax cut would net her about $1.50 a week–enough to “pay for her Costco membership,” he crowed in a tweet. Unfortunately the Senator’s staff didn’t read the article very closely, because the secretary’s take on it was hardly complimentary to Ryan and the Republicans. Know what you’re talking about if you repost, and be able to back it up if questioned. And you might consider leaving the truly loopy stuff out of it altogether, or saving it for your (non-acting) blog, or for posting on the Tinfoil Hat Times or wherever.
Get your bio looking sharp and up-to-date. Enlist a writer friend if you are having trouble, but get yourself a clean, easy-to-read bio that is truthful, but also not shy about sharing your accomplishments. Union memberships should feature prominently, as should recent and bigger roles. There are tons of great tutorials out there on how to really capture people’s attention with a good Twitter or Instagram bio, if you do a quick search.
7. The Network Is Not Down
Now it’s time to make sure you are networking in the best way possible. Reach out to everyone you meet via their favorite platform and make sure to keep them updated on all your projects and your latest posts. However, it’s important too to keep in mind the true meaning of the word “network.” It is a “system of lines or channels that cross and interconnect.” A big mistake a lot of actors and people in general make in terms of social media is mistaking the purpose of it. It’s for multiple people to share with one another, and connect back and forth. It’s not a one-way megaphone for you to trumpet your glory and await your subjects to bow down and show their admiration. Actors who only post about themselves and don’t show support or interest in anyone else’s projects get real boring real fast. You by yourself are just not as interesting as you are as part of a group of like-minded people. Creators thrive among other creators; develop a network of people with interests similar to your own. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but the less time you spend focused on yourself and your own projects and the more time you put into interacting with others on their projects, the wider you spread your sphere of influence, and the more interested parties you end up crossing digital paths with—thus ultimately drawing more attention to you and your own stuff. Spread the love, and the love will come back to you!