Social media is (for better or worse) engrained into our society’s consciousness now. As an actor pursuing a career that potentially could thrust you into a high profile public position, you should know and understand what constitutes good and bad social media habits and tools. I will try to simplify some of the basics here.
In all honesty “bad social media habits” can encompass many different categories. Some examples are inappropriate or unrelated postings, party/nightclub pictures, opinions or arguments online and the list goes on. Social media habits can also cover things as simple (and overlooked) as email addresses, naming of social accounts/websites and security/privacy settings on social accounts. So where should you start if you want to see what your social status is? A good first step would be to Google your name to see what you’ve put out there. Next consider the list of basic social platforms below and what are “best practices”.
Common Social Media Platforms
First, let’s start with the basic social accounts in use by most actors:
- IMDb: This is a site that is great for listing your credits, work you’ve done and uncredited projects you were a part of. It’s also a good tool to network with industry people and make connections for the future. IMDb, however, is a business with annual costs involved for maintaining an IMDbPro account ($149.99USD/year or ~$210CDN/year). It is the industry standard site for casting, production or agents to look you up and cross reference your qualifications and as such can be valuable to actors once they have TV, Film, Short Film credits.
- Facebook: Everyone has a personal Facebook account. At the very least (in 2015) 4.9 Billion people worldwide had personal Facebook accounts. As an actor, it makes sense that you would want to separate your private and public profiles. Consider establishing a Fan Page Facebook account especially if the actor is a child or you don’t want your private life accessible to the world. The best part about the Fan Page, it’s FREE! Free is great to get you started and all the technology is taken care of for you. The key to having a healthy Facebook profile is your security and privacy settings for both your personal and professional accounts. DO NOT make the mistake to think the default settings are safe, take the time to adjust your security settings.
- Tumblr / WordPress.com: A blog is a great way to build a presence online. Tumblr is very popular with the younger generation of bloggers simply because it affords a very quick development of the blog, ability to customize the look & feel and ability to post a variety of multimedia on-the-go from a smartphone. WordPress.com is also a (mostly) free service, easy to sign up for, easy (ish) to customize and fairly simple to update and maintain from a wireless device. Both services allow the user to build a following, connect to social media platforms outside of the blog and post current news or projects. WordPress.com also allows you (for a small fee) to purchase your blog URL and establish a permanent online presence that is hosted for free by wordpress.com site and later moved to a web hosting company if so desired. My suggestion would be to follow a standard (though boring) name structure like ‘your-name.tumblr.com’ or ‘your-stage-name.wordpress.com’ and this (if you choose) makes the transition to a permanent URL like ‘www.your-name.com’ much easier.
- Instagram/ Twitter: I’m grouping these together because they all fall under the same definition, the microblog. Instagram is owned by Facebook and connects seamlessly to your fan page, uses #hashtags, and give people a glimpse into your everyday life if you choose. Twitter is 140-characters plus images that lets you connect with people to follow and build a following for yourself of like-minded profiles. Both of these platforms connect to apps on your smartphone and are very easy to update on-the-go. Both are used extensively by actors, musicians, movie studios, companies and ad agencies to deliver content to interested parties.
- Youtube/ Periscope: Youtube is a mainstay for hosting your self-tapes, classroom projects, assignments etc. It’s free and can host videos publicly or privately (in the case of audition reels) of any size. Youtube is a great service owned by Google (Alphabet). Periscope on the other hand is a live streaming service similar to walking around with a film crew broadcasting to the world. It’s relatively new and can have some interesting applications to the actor. Do your research.
Social Media Best Practices
When you start considering what you need for social media or personal marketing, I suggest using the principal of KISS (Keep It Simple Silly). Have you done a lot of movies, won awards, have a following of thousands? Then you probably don’t need to be every where. For an actor starting out I suggest setting up a Gmail account, Facebook Fan Page and Youtube account to start. It will be easy to manage and cover all your social marketing needs. As you, or your child, builds acting credits you may want to consider signing up for IMdBPro account, before having some TV or Film credits it’s really unnecessary. The other social media tools can wait as well and please always consult your agent and ask what is appropriate for your situation.
Next is engaging online. Do’s and Don’ts are pretty simple and straightforward. DO: Talk to people online; Join groups online for actors, production, casting etc.; Post new head shots or pictures at industry events; and, finally, be consistent when and how often you post updates and interact. DON’T: Get into arguments, fights or drama online; Post inappropriate images to your profiles; Post pictures from set or a job; Post copyrighted or protected material like auditions, self-tape requests from casting, or anything that connects you directly to a project until you receive WRITTEN permission to do so.
As a last word, please remember that the internet is FOREVER and for this reason, as an actor, be mindful of what you put out there. Audit your online presence regularly by searching your full name, stage name or email address with Google search, you will be surprised what pops up. If you are a parent of teenagers or children you should do this regularly as well. Social media is a great way to promote and market yourself and when used properly could elevate your profile exponentially. Just think, Justin Beiber was discovered on Youtube. Food for thought.