Last week Stuart Piper from Cole Kitchenn wrote his first article for The Stage about the importance of having a social media presence as an artist. The article aptly named #Supertwitterfacebookyoutubexpialidocious was candid and honest take from an agent’s point of view about how social media marketing & PR is becoming increasingly more influential when it comes to the casting process and measuring a person’s real reach.
— Stuart Piper (@StuartPiper) October 4, 2012
As with most things online, this rippled through the industry causing a few heated debates and a dissection of how this maybe a demise of the creative world in which we work in. I’m sure similar mutterings were most likely bandied about when the first show decided to have a website (surely no one will part with their credit card details online to book tickets?!) or when the first actors hired a dedicated publicist rather than just an agent. So seeing the reaction unfold online from the sceptical few around this post was to be expected. It maybe a tad ironic many of these naysayers were using social media to communicate their cynicism about the influence of such platforms but seriously, it takes industry figures to be confident enough to talk about their experiences good or bad, before a subject is no longer viewed with trepidation and a normal part of our armoury of tools that allow us to succeed rather than just be a mere fad. I’m really glad Piper dedicated his first piece to the rise of social media and shine a light on a subject that seems to be on the lips of every performer or actor I meet today – almost envious I didn’t write it myself.
When we started, we approached various talent agents, publicists and artists who had varying degrees of experience with the digital space. Unfortunately, it seemed to be an industry where only the hugely successful could afford to be online and we continue to challenge this perception as we grow. We like to say, you don’t have to be Lady Gaga or Stephen Fry to use it well and some of the most successful social media accounts today have spent time not money to build up their online reputation – just ask @WestEndProducer or @Queen_UK if you don’t believe us. It’s been a long road establishing our own services within the industry, mainly because of the growth in the perceived value social media and despite the fact many public figures have successfully used Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other channels to boost their profiles. It’s great to see people like Stuart Piper, Mark Shenton (who is a strong advocate of Twitter) and Scott Matthewman (who wrote his own response piece) continue to raise the question of the value of social. We need this discussion as the only people who will miss out will be the actors themselves and it is a tough enough industry as it is.
No Doctor Who this week, so no Ten Things About…. Instead, another RT for my column about Twitterstorms & stats misuse mtthw.mn/WDPhZn
— Scott Matthewman (@scottm) October 7, 2012
‘Techno-joy’ as Eddie Izzard would describe it, is not for everyone but understanding it’s importance and value is though. Most people don’t see the point of social media mostly because they fail to use it correctly or because it’s too time consuming. To be fair, why should any actor or agent know how to do this in the first place, know about engagement or Klout – it’s not a part of the job spec at the end of the day. As much as Likes, Followers and top Google ranking are a great way to gauge popularity, there is a bigger functionality to building an online audience. Social doesn’t have to be scary or pointless, simply just as a platform to develop great relationships with people and getting those to simply talk about you and your work, whether it be within your industry or in the public arena.
Social doesn’t have to be scary or pointless, simply see it as a platform to develop great relationships with people and getting those to simply talk about you and your work
We now have a number of clients as well as agents and publicists who look to us to get more out of social and it can only get easier for everyone once they have the confidence to use it. Here are a few of our top tips for those who have been tempted to get online since last week:
• Focus on establishing a professional online presence than worrying about the number of fans or followers you have.
• Pick the right social media platforms that work for you and your life. Like taking photos but hate chatting? Use Instagram not Twitter.
• It’s a conversation. Think of it less like a billboard and more like hosting a party.
• Your online fan base will grow if you talk to them, so focus on them and let them spread the word naturally.
• Choose the right username so people can find you – @sweetcheeks1984 is not what you have on your Spotlight C.V.
• Have a THICK SKIN! Get used to the fact everyone is a critic now whether you like it or not.
• Don’t beg for RTs, Likes or Shares – it makes you look desperate and lonely but do make it clear what you want your fan base to do.
• Don’t lash out against negative criticism or personal attacks. Give it 24 hours – it’s most likely a storm in a teacup.
• Refrain from being self-obsessed. People want to know what you believe in and what influences you instead, even better if you can be entertaining in the process.
• Don’t buy fans or followers. It’s a scam and a false economy at the end of the day. Bit like talking to cardboard cut outs of friends.
• Have a point and don’t just ramble – develop a long term goals for your online voice with your management.
As the saying goes, those who bang their drums hardest are heard the loudest and we shouldn’t be resentful for those willing to take risks with new forms of communication in order to make an impact. It’s up to you how you much effort you put in, as only then, will you find out your own true measure of social success.