Many of us are confined in our homes for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic. Actors in this new normal can use this time to focus on areas that are normally pushed to the side or hard to focus on like social media. During a YouTube Live for Backstage’s digital video series The Slate, social media expert and Backstage Expert Heidi Dean shared her 10 steps actors can follow to clean up their social media during this time.
1. Pick the right platforms for your career.
“Make sure you’re playing in the right places. You should be picking platforms for your acting career based on your career goals, not just where your friends hang out. That’s hard because sometimes we join a network because we joined it in high school or college, depending on how old we are. We didn’t actually join the network to use it for our career. So what I want you to do first is think about the platforms you’re on and make sure they’re the right ones for your career right now.”
2. Make sure your bio is up to date.
“Look at your bio with a fresh eye. Is it your bio that you made five years ago? Because truthfully, you’re not the same actor you were five years ago. You’re not the same human you were five years ago. So make sure you’re updating your bio and it reflects who you are now. It reflects the projects you’ve done. Also, if you have any hashtags or usernames in your bio, make sure they still work. I know it sounds funny but if you’re linking to your reps or a project you did, people change usernames all the time. People delete accounts all the time so make sure that everything in your bio does work and it reflects who you are.”
3. Make sure your profile photos are recent and the same everywhere.
“I’m talking about the little tiny photo that you get on every single social network. For most actors, it probably should be your most recent headshot or a professional photo that really shows us your vibe. It should be something recent, shows your vibe, and really shows us what you’re most castable as, especially if you’re gonna use social media for networking. Make sure you go there and ask yourself: ‘Am I using the latest headshot? The headshot that really shows people who I am and my vibe.’
Even more important, I want to make sure that you’re using the same photo on all your social networks. Sometimes I say this to people and they’re confused, like ‘Well, why? Why can’t I use a different one here and a different one on YouTube?’ If they’re all your social media accounts that you’re using for acting under your name, they should be consistent. Here’s why: it can take between seven and 12 times to recognize a brand online, and you guys are a brand. Don’t make it hard for me to know it’s you! Whether I’m talking to you on Twitter or whether I’m talking to you on Instagram. So make it easy for me to know it’s you.”
4. Choose appropriate cover and header photos.
“It’s like a billboard for you that shows us who you are and what you love. Don’t leave it blank. Please make sure, go, and check all your platforms where it exists. It doesn’t exist on Instagram but, check all other platforms and make sure that header reflects who you are now. Make sure it’s not the blue box on Twitter. It’s not a field of flowers, it’s not an ocean, right? I think that’s a great space for actors to really update us with maybe your most recent project or booking as long as it’s already aired. Tell us what you just did or if you’re in a show. So say you’re on a tour or Broadway or doing some kind of theater show, why not have a shot from it up there? So it’s really updating us with your most recent work. So look at that header photo. Look at that cover photo today and ask yourself ‘Is this recent? Can I update this in any way?’ ”
5. Put a link in your bio and make sure it works.
“Every social media platform usually allows us to have some sort of link in our bio. Make sure you put something there, number one. So many times I see an actor online and it’s completely blank. If you don’t have a website, if you don’t have a casting profile or an IMDb, at least send us to another social network to help grow that social network. Make sure there’s a link, but also make sure it works.”
6. Audit your social media posts.
“I want you guys to do an audit of all your recent posts. You don’t have to spend hours, but go to the platforms you’re using and scroll. I want you to scroll and ask yourself ‘Do these posts look like me? Do they sound like me? Do they show my best self?’ We’re in a year of politics right now, we’re also in a time of crisis, so make sure your posts are showing your best self. Would you want your agent, your manager, that producer of that dream show, a casting director, to see your posts? If the answer is no or maybe not, then do a little cleanup.”
7. Check your Facebook and Instagram photos.
“Do a Facebook and Instagram audit of your photos. What I want you to do specifically is look at the photos you’re tagged in because very often we get tagged in stuff that is either just not us or stuff that we may not want to have out there in the world, especially on Facebook. Our friends might be tagging us in stuff but that doesn’t mean we want that out there for people in the business to see. Untag yourself from anything that obviously isn’t you or isn’t showing your best self.”
8. Have a healthy follower ratio.
“Clean up your followers and what I mean by that is I want you to get your ratio in check. There’s a lot of you guys that are following a ton of people but you only have so many followers. For example, if you follow 4,000 people on Instagram or Twitter and you only have 500 followers, that just does not look very influential. When you’re on social media, yes, sometimes it’s about the numbers. But sometimes it’s just about looking influential. We need to get that ratio in check. Here’s the deal: some of those people that aren’t following you back, you may have followed five years ago when you joined Instagram. They suggest that you follow these different people. Some of those people aren’t even actively using the platform. They’re not following you back. What I say is make some room for new people. Get that ratio in check slowly, just a couple people a day and make sure you’re not following way more people than you have following you.”
9. Check analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t.
“Analyze your posts. I’m not getting all techie on you here. You are using social media for your career, for your business. If you were a business using social media, you would actually be investing money into a posting strategy and then from time to time, you would be checking your analytics to see what’s working and what’s not to see what your audience is responding to, tweaking it, and then trying again and doing more of that. As an actor, you should be doing the same thing and most of the time, when I tell actors that, they go ‘My what? Where would I even find that information?’ You have access to that on most social media platforms...I want you to look at this information and see what’s working and then do more of it. Sometimes we’re in a bubble in social media, we’re putting content out there but we don’t really see what our audience is responding to. Look at everything, not just likes, look at comments, replies, what are people sharing. Those stats are actually better than passive likes.”
10. Double-check everything.
“On platforms like YouTube and Facebook, we can actually hit ‘view as yourself’ or ‘view as the viewer.’ I want you to go look at that platform like you were just a random stranger or a casting director or anybody. Just go look at it as somebody that’s not you and what are you seeing? Do you like the photos that pop up, do you like the order things are in. Just do a double check that everything you just did, all the clean up you just did, is what you want it to be. Then, as part of number 10, just Google yourself. Google yourself and see what comes up. Social media is one of the first things that pops up in a Google search for your name and see if you like the bio that pops up. See if you like the images. Just look at that first impression and, of course, if you don’t like something, go through steps one through nine. Do some cleanup.”
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