It is my pleasure this week to touch on a topic that is widely discussed in the industry today – Social Media.
When you’re an actor (new to the business or not) it is important to ensure that you are putting yourself online as much as possible in a professional light. I decided to get in touch with Niki Winterson the MD of Winterson’s Agency to give us her thoughts on the subject. Before reading on, make sure to follow Winterson’s on Twitter and check our their impressive client list online. They are an extremely professional agency that I would recommend highly for any actor looking for new representation.
Enjoy the article and if you have any thoughts or feedback – drop me a message!
At Winterson’s we take the responsibility of helping our actors to develop themselves professionally very seriously. While talent and the skills that accompany it remain the most important tools in the repertoire of any actor, knowing how to conduct yourself professionally and proactively within the industry can also be critical to success. Social Media is undoubtedly revolutionising the way that actors are perceived in the industry, but not necessarily in the ways that you might think.
As an actor, using social media effectively does not involve accruing masses of fan followers, or attempting to convey your talents through your online persona. Earlier this year a high profile article appeared in Vanity Fair in which both Emma Thompson and Michael Caine criticised what they perceived to be the current trend for hiring ‘social media actors’, i.e. people whose huge online followings are deemed to be reason enough to bring them on-board. Of course the ability to be recognisable and help put ‘bums on seats’ has long-since been an element of the theatrical draw, but this is not what casting directors are looking for.
Yes, fame and recognition are nice, but that is not why you are here. Acting is about the craft of acting, and in professional circles it shall remain that way.
Nor is social media an excuse to excessively market yourself, or badger casting directors and producers with endless dialogue. Again, the correct amount of – carefully placed – self-promotion can be a great way of telling the industry what you are up to. But balance, as always, remains key. Conversational tonality and an engaging human face go a long way on social media, just as they do in the real world, and listening to and encouraging your peers can be just as important as promoting your own endeavours.
The productions themselves will have marketing and social media outlets. It’s a good idea to talk to the people responsible for those outlets and think about how you can dovetail with existing promotional efforts while maintain public professionalism at all times.
What social media undoubtedly brought to the table is increased transparency online. By this what we mean is that casting director, agents, producers, directors, etc. need now only take to a Facebook or a Twitter to find out more about a performer. This is not necessarily such a bad thing, as being seen in multiple places can enhance your visibility, but it does involve a joined-up approach. Think about your brand. Make sure that you are the same person on Facebook as you are on Twitter, that your Instagram photos, while breaking down the fourth wall, do not show a completely different individual to the one who appears in your Spotlight. Be mindful of the roundness of character that social media brings, and take a ‘birds eye view’ of your footprint across the entire web.
One thing that casting directors in particular like to see is genuine passion and interest. If you’re really interested in going to the theatre, or watching the latest box set or blockbuster, then be vocal about it. Demonstrate an opinion and an insight on the latest work, be in and around the industry, go to see things, document it on Instagram, live and breathe the passion of the industry and show that you are a part of that industry. Someone who is perceived to be actively interested in shows, and engaged in the craft of acting will be a much more appealing prospect for hire.
Above all else remember that through social media, in whatever industry you work in, employees are now constantly in the shop window to potential employers. Act with dignity and decorum, without being overly false or corporate. Don’t treat it as a spotlight. Or a microphone. Be earnest and engaging and remember that your profile is constantly being built online.
Thank you to Niki Winterson, Winterson’s Agency and In Press Online for putting this together.