10 Tips for Taking Control of Your Talent Online
Tips for taking charge of yourself as a business online, using your passions as a guide.
If you’re looking for ways to maximise your online brand, you’re not alone. Being a performer often means spending as much time vying for the job as doing the job. Luckily, there are a lot of great avenues to make your own content online, giving you promotion for your skills and an outlet for your talent. Mark Bonington gives us his 10 tips for becoming your own business online.
As actors and performers will be all too aware, getting your next gig can be the toughest part of the job. The degree to which actors need to “market themselves” is a hotly contested topic. But far from being part of the grind, why not make the process of taking control of your own PR as creative and challenging as learning a new stage role?
Producers routinely talk about how hard it is to fill theatre seats. But, in my experience, that is largely because theatre as an industry has not fully embraced its digital side. While uploading an ensemble video to Facebook for a new musical, I tried to tag the actors involved but found only three had any form of public profile set up. What a missed opportunity for the rest of the cast for free exposure! Much of the theatre world still relies on traditional methods to get their message across, despite both theatre and digital being realms fuelled by storytelling.
Having trained hard to hone your talent, make sure you get it out there and in front of audiences — whether they’re looking at you in the theatre or online.
1. Start with what inspires you
Take a step away from thinking of yourself as a performer and consider yourself as a small business, offering your services in a highly competitive environment. Start by thinking about what inspires you. Music or words are the obvious ones to begin with. As performers and entertainers, these are our bread and butter.
But what else? Cooking? Sports? When it comes to creating a branded content strategy, there are very few rules. Choose a topic which is going to engage you to keep getting creative around it, and that has room to evolve.
2. Plan how you’ll create your own content
Carrie Hope-Fletcher is a great performer, but her YouTube channel also focuses on self-help advice; Jessica Louise Parkinson is currently featuring in School of Rock, but her Instagram is dedicated to her passion for yoga and how it helps creatives of all kinds.
Once you’ve got your inspiration, think about which medium you’ll communicate it in. Will it be videos? Pictures? The written word? Go with where you're most comfortable.
3. Choose your channels
Don’t try and be across all social media channels — you won’t have the time. Pick which ones best match your personality. You can recycle content across different channels, but don't try and be on more than three.
Instagram is a great place to express yourself in images and short videos (you can't go longer than 1 minute currently). Facebook is where you're likely to be tagged in media from shows or productions you've been in, so having a presence here is advisable. YouTube, being owned by Google, is a place to be discovered and improve your chances of appearing in searches. Explore and find which one feels right for you.
4. Educate yourself
Creating content and starting with your social media strategy should not cost the earth. As with all good entertainment, passion and storytelling beat high production values. Plus, most of the tools you need to get started are already on that smartphone in your pocket.
Keeping yourself up to date with best practises for professional social media is always a good idea, and there are blogs, forums and podcasts galore to help with this. Social Media Examiner is a highly recommended resource.
5. Post correctly
Good digital strategy is all about getting the fundamentals right. So when you post your content, be sure that you are in-line with the channel algorithms.
On Facebook, for example, when posting a link to a website or YouTube video, make sure you’ve created a link post — not a picture post with a hyperlink in the copy. It may sound basic, but I’ve seen even big international brands get that one wrong.
Make sure that you tag interests to your posts whenever given the opportunity and crop any banner or cover images to the correct sizes. The Sprout Social blog has a very handy guide for this.
It sounds fiddly, but all these details help the channel algorithms get your content in front of the right audience. Take time to set yourself up right.
6. Embrace paid targeting
Once you’ve got your content up and running and are happily posting, you need to consider how to increase your reach. Paid targeting on digital channels is a huge topic, but the basics are fairly easy to get to grips with and social media channels themselves have many resources to help you get started.
Top tips are to start small (a few quid is fine) and make sure that any targeting is designed to get you in front of people who will want to see it, so narrow your targeting accordingly.
7. Test and optimise
When it comes to paid targeting, testing is key. Target your content to different audiences who you think would be interested in it and see which performs best. Alongside this, there are tools and campaign options designed to find new and relevant followers, gain more video views, increase clicks to your website or attend your event.
Always think about who the right audience is for any campaign, not just the biggest. Who is going to genuinely want to see your work in their newsfeed?
8. Get familiar with analytics
Social networks provide you with insights and analytics on everything which goes on in your channel. Charts may seem scary, but getting familiar with the data is actually key to making the best work possible.
Look at who is interacting with your content and who is following you. Analysing things like how much reach or engagement a particular piece of content has had, along with the age, location and gender split, will help guide the future of your channel so you can give your growing audience more of what they want.
9.Temper your expectations
Good digital strategy is like fostering any type of talent – it's about nurturing and growing it over time. Keep your goals long-term focused: You are trying to make yourself and your profile more visible online to benefit your career, not simply to “go viral” and gain mass exposure for a brief period.
While this certainly has happened to performers in the past with the social media content they've created, it is very much the exception and not the rule.
10. Incorporate your Spotlight profile
Whether you're going to create a blog about you and your performing ability, or about a relatable topic you feel passionate about, bring it back to your talent.
Creating content about theatrically-inspired baking tips (for example) may get you readers, but remember your key goal: To get more exposure for performing work. When a producer or director comes into contact with your online presence, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to discover more about you.
Whether you sign off blog posts with a link to your Spotlight, or place it centre stage in the bio of your Instagram, this will set the stage for when an important reader passes your way and wants to contact you (or your agent).
Adopt an entrepreneurial attitude to marketing yourself online, and you'll be standing head and shoulders above the competition.
Finally, as with any type of creative work, don't forget to enjoy it.
Mark Bonington is a digital strategist and writer who specialises in creating integrated campaigns for businesses. He has worked with both large international clients and startups, but theatre remains a particular passion.