Creating an Online Presence: Do’s and Don’ts

Person-Excited-at-ComputerGird your loins, actorlings, we’re about to tackle one of the most elusive (and important) career boosters: online presence. Second only to forced mingling in its awkwardness, establishing and maintaining proper online presence is the unicorn of self-promotion: enigmatic, difficult to track, and toting a metaphorical horn that will stab you in the face if you get it wrong. However, like the unicorn, the real deal is an exquisite, precious experience that will add that extra bit of magic to your efforts.

So, here are some quick tips to get you started. Bon voyage, my cyber-pioneers!

DO:

1. Have a website. Websites are a fantastic way to encapsulate and promote your career. However, there are stipulations. While there are plenty of self-serve websites out there (Weebly, Wix, et al), design has a huge bearing on how you are received. You want the first impression to be professional. If you know your web design skills aren’t up to snuff, consider hiring someone, or at least bribing your talented IT friends with beer and gratitude. A website should be informative but not cluttered, easy to navigate, and catered to your acting type. Stay away from glitz and go for something streamlined.

2. Be active on Twitter and Instagram. The good old days are over. Facebook ain’t cutting it anymore. Twitter and Instagram can be wonderful promotional tools, when used correctly. Just remember to have simple, professional handles, (some version of your name should suffice) and keep the content classy.

3. Find ways to brand yourself. Everything from the font you use on your resume to the way you title your audition clips says something about you. Do a little market research. See what the cool kids are doing. A good rule of thumb is to keep things clean and simple, with just a hint of personality. Stay away from curly and/or outdated fonts, label things with your name and pertinent information, and keep your photos consistent and updated.

4. Network online. Keep up with other actors, artistic directors, casting directors and other industry people online. As long as you’re not obnoxious about it, social media can be a good way to stay in the loop.

5. Create profiles on Cast It, Actor’s Access, etc. For real, though. Casting directors use these sites, so you should too. Make sure your information is current and your participation is persistent.

6. Maintain privacy settings. It can be very easy to forget who’s watching when you’re chucking information and opinions out into the cyber-void. Be militant about your privacy settings, and make sure potential directors and colleagues only get to see the best, most professional side of you.

7. Keep your audience in mind. Start thinking about everything you put out there in terms of who is consuming it and how it affects their perception of you as an actor. The more you cultivate this habit, the faster you will catch blunders before they happen.

DON’T:

1. Mix business and pleasure. I cannot stress this enough. Make separate social media accounts that are just for business if you have to, but at the very least remember that if you are like most actors, 95% of your friends (online and IRL) are also actors and industry people. That means that they also know people who might cast you someday, and as we all know, actors can’t keep secrets for blood or money. If you wouldn’t want it to come up in an audition, don’t post it. If your online personality is different, snarkier, or meaner than your real one, be aware that inflection and intention don’t translate through a computer screen, and rumors travel at the speed of light.

2. Namedrop like a d-bag. Don’t. Just don’t. If you want to be respected and taken seriously, you don’t get the luxury of fangirling (or boying) out online. Respect the privacy of others and save those pics with celebrities for you and your friends.

3. Talk trash in public. Duh. Criticizing colleagues in writing leaves a trail that can come back to bite you.

4. Cross pollinate. Facebook is ubiquitous, but it is not a professional forum. I don’t care what the other kids are doing, if you want to conduct business, use professional email accounts.

5. Neglect updates. It’s a pain and it’s tough, but the second your headshots, resume, news, etc. become outdated, you start the excruciating decent into irrelevancy.

6. Fall behind. Technology is ever changing. Keep that finger on the pulse of the internet and keep up with the latest casting sites, trends, etc.

7. Suck up. Everyone hates it. If you are clingy and desperate, it is going to show, and cast an unfavorable light on you. Don’t hound people online, and maintain a genuine, professional tone at all times.

Keeping up your online presence can feel like trying to be fashionable in middle school. Most of the time, you don’t know what you’re doing, but everyone else seems to have it in the bag. The difference is, in this case, doing your homework will actually help you be cool. (You’re welcome, nerds. Your day has come). The more you work to showcase yourself online, the better you’ll get at it. These days, so much of your exposure is in your control. Celebrate it, and dive into the world of online self-promotion.

 

We  would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and we would definitely appreciate a visit to the Cast It Talent website. Stop in and tell us what you think!  Start building your online brand with Cast It Talent as the centerpiece.  #RightActorRightJob

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com