Too often agents drop the social media bomb on aspiring artists, but do you really need it?
Simply put: yes. Yes, you do. Even if you are already lining up jobs back to back, you should still care. Social media, and digital channels in general, are fundamental to establish who you are as a performer, connect with fans and improve how sellable you are.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “personal brand”. Basically, you are a company, like Apple. And your dancing, acting, whatever it is that you do, that’s the iPhone you want to sell. Your name is your brand. The way you present yourself, including your social media life, is your brand identity.
You are your own company, product and CEO. Just like trading companies, the more successful you are, the more work there will be to do. That’s why famous performers have managers, PAs, personal hair and makeup, publicists, etc… When you are starting off, you have to worry about all that, unless you are reach and can already afford a staff.
Your digital presence is important, because, between two similarly fitting performers, a casting director will pick the one with the bigger following. Sometimes, if the following is big enough, dancers are picked even when their performance was levels below other good-but-unknown dancers. This is already happening and has been happening for a while now.
It’s sad. I know. But it’s the showbiz, baby. Producing a show or a film or a series takes a humongous amount of money. Producers want to make sure that they are maximising their chances of success. If that means getting a performer that is slightly less talented but with a much bigger network of fans, they’ll go for it. And, look, it has always been like this. Famous performers have always trumped less-famous-but-a-little-better performers. Look at the employment of Talent in musical theatre productions, just to make an example. Or, even simpler, at the fact that only a ‘name’ is wanted for a lead role. That’s not dissimilar to picking an actor with 100k followers, nowadays.
The one difference between becoming famous in the 80s and nurturing a social media following is that you are directly in charge of your success. In the 80s you had to get cast. Today you have to get cast. But today you can also do social media to create a profile that can reach a larger audience, just with your phone, a couple of gizmos and, well, a LOT of work.
It’s true. You can do it yourself, with very little or no money. To make a film, you need the equipment, a crew, a cast, locations, legal support and so on. To do social media you need yourself, a phone and internet connection.
Still, this idea that “you can do it yourself” is also misleading. I believe it’s the main reason agents suggest you to become internet famous like it was nothing. Curating your digital identity is not easy, it requires a ton of work and the results are not that certain.
But you should still care. That social media following is the difference from being an actor going to auditions and being an actor that inspires writers. Between having 10 and 60 people at your choreography workshop. Between having to submit unsolicited scripts to half the country and being asked if you have something they could read.
Now, I won’t leave you out in the cold. As I wrote before, I created this blog to help actors, dancers, singers, performers, writers and so on. So, to start off, let’s talk digital strategies.