Keep your finger on the digital world’s pulse by using social media to promote your ‘brand’ online. Pearl Tan and Candice Wise have some timely advice
As an actor, your personal brand is your livelihood. Like it or not, social media is not going away any time soon and it plays a huge part in building your personal brand. YouTube is currently the second-largest search engine in the world, Facebook has more than 900 million monthly active users and there are more than 200 million Tweets each day.
You can choose to ignore the digital world, but the internet will continue to grow alongside your career, and things like theatre reviews, film and television listings like IMDb, Wikipedia and fan sites mean you will end up with a personal brand online regardless. So why not harness the power of the digital world by creating and controlling your own content?
First, you need to decide what username or handle you want to use. If your stage name has already been taken, try to come up with something unique and easy to remember, then snap it up on every available social-media channel – whether you think you’ll end up using it or not. This consistency will help build your brand.
You also need to make a decision about what sort of information you want to share. Ask yourself what your communication style is: are you a warts-and-all sort of person, who will happily share your life with the world?
Using your real name online is advantageous because potential employers can easily find you. However, you may prefer to keep your private persona (party photos, dating sites etc) separate from your public image. One option is to choose a pseudonym for your private affairs, or you can use privacy settings to your advantage. For example, Facebook automatically creates the groups “Close Friends” “Acquaintances” and “Restricted”, as well as allowing you to create your own groups. You can change the visibility setting for every single status or photo that you post, from “Public” through to a group or even a single person.
With new social-media channels popping up all the time, you need to choose where to put your energy. Pick channels that not only have high traffic and engagement levels but also suit your communication style and the type of content you want to share. For each social-media channel you use, you need to think about who your target audience is and what they might be interested in. Are you posting content for fans or industry practitioners? If you want to build and maintain a loyal following, try to create content of value for your target audience and encourage interaction. They don’t want to be spammed with shameless self-promoting material, repetitive pleas for crowd-funding pledges or what you had for lunch.
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You could share articles that you’ve read, industry opportunities such as grants or internships, let people know about a show you really loved or provide amusing anecdotes about your time on set. Be creative and sensible in finding your own style and tone to engage with your audience. The mix of content you post on the different social-media channels and the way you interact with your audience will allow your story to unfold and build your personal brand.
Finally, many people want to create their own website. It’s a great way to have complete control over your content and how it is presented. For a reasonably priced and simple way to get a professional-looking site up quickly, check out Squarespace, which does all the complicated technical bits for you. If you get stuck, there is an extensive help section and if you email them for advice, they’re very friendly and patient.
See you online!
Pearl Tan is the director of Pearly Productions. Candice Wise is the marketing manager at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. This article was originally published in the Winter 2012 issue of The Equity Magazine, out now.