Social Media: An introduction for actors
What does Edwin van der Walt and Coke have in common? At first, this comparison might seem a bit farfetched, but there is more to this. Both are recognised brands in their own right. The one a leading beverage brand and the other a well-known South African actor, a personal brand in his own right. Both have a reputation that is managed accordingly. What most public figures do not realise is that their online presence is just as vital has their presence in public.
In the following few months, we will be focusing on personal branding. How do you elevate your online presence? How do you let social media work for you and ultimately, how can social media be an extension of your brand and generate revenue?
In this blog series, we will be looking at personal branding as a whole, with practical tips and tricks for you to implement in your life as an actor.
Probably the first and most important rule to remember in social media is that if you post something, it is out there for everyone to see at any time. Even if you delete it later, it was out there in the big internet universe. I was at a conference a few years ago where the speaker said that, if you are not willing to have your social media post, along with your name and photo on a big billboard alongside a busy highway, don't post it. Think before you post, my one lecture also referred to the front-page principal, would you still post that tweet or photo if it was going to be on the front page of Rapport tomorrow?
Social media can take you from hero to zero. Who can forget Ellen Degeneres' famous selfie photo on Twitter, that got over 3 million retweets? The most liked photo on Instagram is not even of a celebrity; it is of an egg. Yes, a simple photo of an egg, with over 50 million likes. In the same breath, some people got into very hot water over what they posted on social media. We all remember Penny Sparrow, an ordinary real estate agent who became infamous for racists comments on social media. She got an R150,000 fine for her post.
Preaching set aside, let's get down to business. Your first task will be to do a complete audit of your social media accounts. Yes, even that Twitter account you set up back in 2012 with that cringe username. Go through every post you made on social media. See that it is in line with your brand values. That what you as an actor and brand stand for. Judge each Instagram, Facebook post or Tweet from an investigating journalist's point of view. If something is not in line with your brand, remove it. Google yourself and see what is being said of you on social media. Go through your tagged photos on Facebook and see that you are happy with what is being displayed on social media.
Once you've completed your social media audit and you're happy with the content, it's time to streamline your personal brand on social media. More is less, do not feel compelled to be on each social media platform. Annalise your following, what platform does the majority of your following use? Maybe you want to start things slowly, by only having an Instagram page. That's fine, one step at a time. You might see that there is a big following on Twitter, then open up a Twitter account. Just remember that if you open an account, you need to feed it with content. It's also important that you are comfortable with the platform. This blog series will also guide you as to how you can maximise your reach on social media on different platforms.
While you're busy with an online audit of yourself, you might come across old social media accounts you've opened years ago and since abandoned. It's important to track down those accounts and close them down. By having multiple online accounts it makes it difficult for your fans to find your correct and most recent profile. By having duplicate accounts you might miss out on mentions from fans or the media, as they might tag one of your old accounts.
In the likely case that you forgot the password of your old account, try the old fashion "forgot password option". Should you still have no luck, try reaching out to Twitter or Instagram support, which could be of helpful assistance.
Speaking of profiles, we all went through that stage where you thought that having a cheesy username was quite the in thing. Sorry to break it to you, it isn't anymore. CoolKid96 is not really going to work if you want to try to build out your professional brand online. Try to stick to an easy and simple username, like your name and surname.
Should that be already be taken by someone else, try the NAME_SURNAME option or by adding a number 1 at the end. Get creative; just make sure it is professional. Where possible, try to have the same username across all your platforms. If you are @PeterPentz on Instagram, try not to change your Twitter username to @ThePentzPeter, for example. By having the same username across the different platforms, you make it easier for people to find you and it increases your SEO (search engine optimisation).
Your challenge for this month is thus to do a complete audit of your online presence and the narrow down your accounts. Next month we will have a look at fine-tuning each of your profile's before we head over to content creation.
Till next time.