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The Essentials

How actors can use Twitter to network and build professional relationships online.

Whilst plenty of actors have run with the idea of using social media to promote their acting business, for many of us, it can feel deeply uncomfortable. Self-promotion may even feel wrong, as if it goes against who we are, but what if your gut is telling you it’s wrong because you’re doing it the wrong way? Perhaps you’re avoiding it altogether or maybe you’re focused purely on promotion – either way, let’s look at five ways we can use Twitter better without it feeling inauthentic.

Building relationships online

All marketing is about brand awareness, and social media marketing (SMM) is no exception. Put simply, our brand awareness objective is to ensure that industry professionals know who we are and understand the value of our offering.

From brand awareness, we want to progress to building relationships. Many of the unspoken rules on relationship building and networking in real life also apply to the online world. When we understand this, we can use our relationship-building know-how from real life: listening, looking for authentic connections and shared interests, and apply it to the virtual world.

What do we have in common with our target clients be they casting directors, producers, directors or writers? What might they like to hear about? It doesn’t always have to be about us or the industry, the key is to make authentic connections that reflect an understanding of the other person. This way we build trust, which takes time, but is key to long-lasting relationships and building our network.

The 80/20 Rule

Relationships should be a two-way street. Good friends don’t just talk about themselves, they listen to you, support you, and encourage you. If they can help, they will. Online is no different. With this in mind, many businesses apply what is known as the 80/20 rule where 20% of the social media interaction is promotion and 80% is giving: supporting, helping, collaborating, and championing others in the industry. Actors often feel yucky about self-promotion because they haven’t applied this rule. The 80/20 ratio ensures that we are not being self-serving but contributing to the community and others.

Have a positive impact on your connections

Another part of the 80% is being engaging. Relationships that make us feel good are usually the ones we value most. I look forward to spending time with people who energise me but feel very hesitant to meet that one person who always brings the energy of the room down. Ask yourself – is your online persona the former or the latter?

Of course, being a positive presence online doesn’t mean you have to show a false, ‘rainbows and sunshine’ version of life all the time – but we do need to keep in mind the effect our posts can have on how others feel. In real life and on the internet the most favourable experiences are ones that leave us in a positive emotional state. Always question whether you’re adding value, be that to the individual or the acting community in general.

Maintain consistency and balance when posting online

Building trust is something that takes time and dedication, and part of this is getting into a good pattern with your posting frequency. Actors need to make sure that they are posting often enough that they avoid being forgotten, but not so often that you overwhelm your audience and potentially lose them as a follower entirely.

Over-posting and under-posting are equally damaging and both will hinder the success of your social media strategy. Having said that, it has to work for you and your routine. I’d suggest starting with three to five posts a week and seeing how that feels both in terms of responses and fitting into your life. There are tools that can help you plan and schedule posts ahead of time but responding to tweets in real-time can be more powerful, so try to do a mixture of both.

Make social media work for yourself and others

SMM is a cheap, if not free, way to market yourself as an actor and it’s an excellent tool for understanding and connecting to the industry. To make your posts work for you, behave as you would in real life. Make it a balance of give and take. Think about the needs of others and be of service. To avoid the feeling of selling, which makes most of us feel uncomfortable, earn the chance to promote, by spending 80% of your activities on supporting, helping, collaborating, and championing others in the industry.

With all of that in mind, another vital thing to consider is protecting our mental health. A great way to ensure social media doesn’t overwhelm us is to set time limits for ourselves. This may be in the form of putting a limit on certain apps so it tells you when you have been using it for a determined length of time. Another tip is to allocate a time slot in the day when you use those apps or have one day each week when you don’t use social media at all. However, you choose to do it, create boundaries for yourself. Social media is a tool for you to use – don’t let it use you.

If you’re not sure where to begin with posting online, read our article about getting started on social media or our tips to make the most of social media. If you’d like to hear from an actor who has had great success using social media to make his own work and build his brand, then we recommend listening to our podcast episode with actor Jonny Weldon.

Charlotte trained at Mountview and was a professional actor for over fifteen years, performing in the West End and the National Theatre. Now a mentor, Charlotte helps actors with their business strategy, marketing and mindset. Charlotte is the author of Talent isn’t Enough: Ten Ways to Enhance Your Chances of Acting Success and Develop the Winner’s Mindset. Find out more at www.charlottethornton.com

Image credit: freestocks / Unsplash