3 Rules for Using Social Media Professionally

I’m back…to talk more about my very favorite topic: #socialmedia! I know I have published articles on this theme before, however, there is so much to talk about and I only touched the surface with a few topics. Running my Facebook group, Casting Directors for Actors, gives me huge insight into how actors communicate on social media. I see first hand the do’s and dont’s. Many of you seem to “get it” and, unfortunately, many of you do not. Sad face. That’s not a dig. It’s just the sassy foreshadowing to the important tips below. Read on, young Jedis.

Please, for the love of all that is good and pure, understand that simply because you are an actor, any time you use social media, whether your tweet or post is for business or pleasure, what you say and how you say it will be directly linked to your professionalism. Same is true for casting directors (and almost anybody in this business). And, if you follow me on Twitter, you all know that I post a lot of sassy things and I accept the consequences. More importantly, when you send a message of any kind to anybody in the industry, no matter what the message, tweet, or post is, it is a professional business interaction. Unless you are BFFs and you are sending a personal note, it’s business. With that in mind, you must—let me repeat that—must, be as professional as possible. It’s so easy to be professional and to make somebody look at you with respect and positivity. It is just as easy to take the lazy route and make yourself look unprofessional. Here are a few basic steps to help you.

1. Punctuation. Punctuation. Punctuation.Just like in real estate it’s “location, location, location,” there are specific locations in your sentences where punctuation belongs. OK, yes, I used to be a 7th grade English teacher, so I’m quite used to redlining papers, and perhaps I’m a tad more sensitive to this issue. Nevertheless, who likes to read texts and tweets without punctuation? Nobody. It’s confusing and annoying. Our eyes and brains are trained to read punctuation and when it’s missing, it takes us a minute to suss out what’s what. I don’t want to have to suss out a tweet or Facebook message. I just want to read it, respond, and move on with my day. My usual response, in my usual style, to any social media message sans punctuation is a very simple, one word answer, “Punctuation?”. As Billy Joel sings to us, “Get it right the first time, that’s the main thing. I can’t afford to let it pass. Get it right the next time, that’s not the same thing.”

2. First impressions are everything. I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “First impressions are lasting” a million times, and that’s probably because it’s insanely true. Even when somebody turns a bad first impression around and you become friends or co-workers or lovers, you will always remember how bad your first interaction was. This holds true for initial interactions on social media. Perhaps it’s even more important on social media because we are not actually meeting. It’s an e-nteraction (Get it? Not interaction, but e-nteraction. Like email, not mail. OK, it’s a stretch. I’m not a comedian!)

Here’s an example of a Facebook message I received today from an actor. We had never, ever interacted before this message at all. He sent me a message that was quite literally just the name of a movie listed on my IMDb page with a link to what I’m assuming was his own IMDb page. That’s it. There was nothing else. No hello. No introduction. No message. No request. No thank you. Even after 42 years on this planet, I am still gobsmacked at people’s social skills— especially the lack of people’s professional social skills. I encourage you all to “live your online life the way you live your 3D life.” If you would not do or say it in person, do not do or say it online. I can’t imagine there is a single actor out there who would approach a casting director they have never met before and simply say, “(Insert the name of a movie they are casting and insert the url to your website).” That would be crazy-town, right?

I assumed this guy wanted to submit himself for my project, but y’all know I wasn’t about to let this teachable moment slip on by. I responded and started a dialogue, and I think by the end he got it, but only after a bit of useless defense. It just didn’t paint a pretty first impression picture. I’m all for second chances and hopefully he’ll have that with me when he submits the correct way next time. If you’re the actor in question reading this, I feel you. I do. I don’t hold grudges. I just want you to learn so please feel free to message me again and submit yourself.

3. Social media is not the place to submit yourself. There are a few general rules of thumb in this paragraph. This is not black and white. It’s not concrete. It’s not true of every project or every casting director every time, though it’s safe to say this next part is true a large majority of the time. Casting directors use specific industry websites to disseminate the breakdown either directly to actors and/or to agents and managers. When we only send the breakdown to representation and not to actors, that usually means the casting director is only looking for actors who have agents and managers. Most breakdowns for studio feature films and network TV shows will only be sent to agents and managers and not directly to actors. It’s not because we don’t love you. We do. There are many reasons why we do this—(many of which are out of our control and at the hands of those that hire us)—but the easiest to grasp is that there are just too many actors for us to have the time to go through all the submissions we would get directly from actors and those from your rep. When I was casting Season 4 of “Hell On Wheels,” we generally had about 2500 submissions for each guest star and those were directly from agents and managers. Imagine what that number would be if I had released the breakdown to actors.

However, if you didn’t know this and wanted to reach out to the casting director on social media, and you know for certain that they want to be contacted on social media about work, please do it the right way. From the moment you make first contact or submit yourself on the appropriate website, your job interview begins. If you apply for a job incorrectly or don’t include the necessary information, you will probably not get the interview. That holds true for any industry whether you’re a lawyer, architect, model, teacher, or actor.

The moral of the story is, “Don’t be that actor!” You’re all smart. Don’t leave your intelligence in bed sleeping all day. Bring it with you and use it every single time you have any type of professional interaction. I all but guarantee better results.

#saidwithlove xoxo

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Jeremy Gordon
Jeremy Gordon has spent the last 12 years casting feature films, television shows, Web series, short films, and commercials at both the indie and network/studio level.
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