When your lips are dry, you can catch yourself thinking where you put your Chapstick, right? Well, Chapstick is the brand of a product which has become a generic term, even when you aren’t explicitly using that brand. This example represents the power of branding. Most Los Angeles agents believe, that successful actors should build themselves a brand, so casting agencies and agents know what to expect when they choose you. Digital Branding is one of the essential key tools in today’s world to go forward as an actor. As a headshot photographer living in Los Angeles (the heart of the acting industry) I can give you a few tips to better your digital branding.
Find your Brand First
As an actor, how you see yourself as a performer and how the audience sees you is your brand. Finding you own brand sounds complicated; however it’s much simpler than you imagine. Here are some of the first steps to building your brand and solidifying it.
Step 1: How do you see yourself?
To get started, you have to understand your core personality and values. Ask yourself, “What am I?” and “What am I not?”
These questions should outline your viewpoint, attitude, and general manner. Try to limit your answer to three words. Such as “I am ambitious, passionate, reliable. I am not aloof, grumpy, impatient.”
Comprehending these qualities is the basis of your brand. It must describe you no matter the situation, whether you’re at home, working, getting a headshot, or doing something you don’t like.
Step 2: How do others see you?
How others perceive you is critical, as at the end of the day they will be the ones hiring you or looking at your work. To understand that, you must first look for references from past coworkers, teachers, facebook posts from friends and family about you and such.
For a more direct method, you can create a quick survey and send it to 15 people in your inner circle and see what they say. Additionally, you can make a short post on your social media asking your acquaintances to describe you in 3 words (good and bad!).
Look for Patterns
Try to notice patterns in these references and answers. Look for the words that continue to pop up in the feedback. Even though you may not agree, you must consider all the responses for the next step.
Step 3: What’s your brand ethos?
Combine your adjectives
Take the time to mix the adjectives you formed for yourself and the descriptions of others to find your personal brand ethos. Your brand ethos should be unique to yourself and should build a complete image.
Now, ask yourself if it feels like you. Ask yourself if this is the picture you’re looking for. You can even ask your closest friends to look it over and see what they say. If you realize that something is off, you can always go back to the previous steps and look over your results. Don’t lose your patience if it takes you more than one try to get it right.
What should be in your toolbox for building a digital brand?
Social Media Presence
In the 21st century, social media platforms are one of the most vital tools for actors. Your presence on social media should be significant and can be highly beneficial.
Nowadays, it’s impossible to be a successful actor without being active on social media.
Twitter is a platform used to share opinions, thoughts and observations with a limit of 140 characters for your followers. It is the most convenient means of communication with others in the same industry, such as fellow actors, agents, headshot photographers, and such. It is also the best platform for fans to be able to reach out and interact with you.
Many job opportunities may be presented to you through twitter. For example Los Angeles based account Actor Access maintains a database of profiles for casting directors to look through.
Twitter allows actors to speak out on controversial opinions such as politics and share their views. My favorite actor Chris Evans has many times criticized Donald Trump’s proceedings on Twitter. This has solidified his fan base and even gained him more views from like-minded non-fans. His political actions have become a part of his digital brand, and have helped him become more popular.
Instagram is a picture-oriented app where you can post photos, videos, and “stories.” It is a great way to let your followers know what you’re up to during the day. This makes fans feel as if they’re involved in your life. You can also share highlights of your life and earn comments which feels very personal for fans.
It’s a great way to tease upcoming projects and movies. Another popular way of using Instagram is taking fans behind-the-scenes of projects and offer them a closer view on filming, hair and makeup, editing, and so on. This is highly valuable to your followers and makes them feel appreciated. In addition, it is a fantastic way to generate hype about a movie and portray the brand you’ve built. Here’s my brand as a headshot photographer.
Facebook is the oldest and most well-known platform as well as the most essential for actors. This platform is highly comprehensive and has many options for building your page so that it can be 100% to your liking. Through your facebook, your fans can be directed to your site, and agents can find your phone number and contact you. Your page can also help you highlight your achievements, so it’s the first thing visitors see.
A website is basically your portfolio digitized and is easy to find for casting directors. Here, you can put your résumé, headshots, project clips, as well as your cinematic history. Your website should also include a brief “about me” section, which should describe you, your life as an actor, your professional and non-professional achievements. This will allow for prospective agents or casting directors to understand who you are and if you match their requirements.
On the most prominent part of the website, you should place the contact details of your representation, along with links to your social media. As the website is your face, it should be very professional and pleasing to look at. This will be the first thing casting directors find when they Google you, so make sure not to put them off before they’ve even looked at your headshots.
Don’t forget about the quality, speed, SEO optimization for your website. Most of them will cost you some money. Read more on how to invest on your website in our upcoming posts.
Podcasts aren’t a recent technological outbreak, but they have become trendy recently due to HQ audio tools becoming more affordable and accessible, and the simplicity of editing software. Podcasts are the perfect place to gain tips on acting, auditioning, getting perfect headshots, and everything you need to know about building you career. With podcasts such as the “Hollywood Close-Up” actors Natalie Lipka and Wayne Frazier show you how to create a career in the entertainment industry. However, they also provide a great platform to gain new followers and discuss all types of work and non-work related topics. People listen to podcasts when they’re driving, cooking, and doing day-to-day activities, so if you portray your brand, you are sure to gain long-time listeners.
Can digital branding actually get me jobs?
The answer is YES! There are different ways in which digital branding can help you get gigs, some straightforward, others more indirect. You have to work on networking and visibility, and the more thoroughly branded you are in the digital scene, the more connections you will make. Along with the links, you will also be able to build your fanbase. The more people you know even online, the more projects and open slots you will know about.
Here are 5 ways that actors can find and create serious acting relationships using social media.
1. Be Outgoing
Twitter and Instagram are like a big gathering of people where you don’t know anyone. To meet new people, you will need to engage! You can introduce yourself and make yourself known by liking or commenting and following others. This might give you a follow-back, and that can lead to many new possibilities. Social media is an open door to access professionals without making an appointment at their office. You should not wait for them to make a move, be the first one to do it and take advantage of this opportunity.
Social media is an open door to access professionals without making an appointment at their office.
Always try to use hashtags on Instagram and Twitter to find people with similar outlooks and experiences. Look for the trending hashtags in the acting community and join in!
2. Be active
Only opening an account on social media is never enough. To build effective relationships, you must keep a steady presence online. Check your notifications on a regular basis and reply to anyone who interacts with your posts. Thank your fans and the people who retweet and share your posts, especially if they do it multiple times. It shows your humility and appreciation.
3. Ask a Lot of Questions
This is the perfect way to start conversations with other professionals in the industry. If you’re on Twitter, use hashtags often as they will bring people to your account who don’t follow you (yet). Many of my clients find me through online recommendations when someone asks “Do you know any headshot photographer in Los Angeles?” And most of my previous clients or facebook friends tag me in the comments. Answer questions you find on platforms and people who agree might click on your profile. Then you will get on their radar as an interested member, a fan, a coworker or colleague.
4. Be Open
Listen. Just like any normal relationship, a meaningful conversation online involves speaking and listening. When you join a discussion, always read the whole text and understand the context, don’t skim. Always express your point of view and try to understand those who disagree. Be sure your opinions are insightful, well-thought-out, and not self-centered.
How can I get more followers?
Once your headshots have been uploaded, your podcasts episodes are up, and you have laid the base of your digital brand you will want to grow your online following. In order not to overdo it and lose your current followers, you must be tasteful and subtle. Excessive hashtags, robotic commenting, and empty compliments will be immediately recognized and will stick to and harm your brand. The line between being genuine and being annoying is very thin, and most people will see through your actions.
Thus far, we have talked about how to build your brand, and now it’s time to discuss how to make your following without being obvious and tormenting everyone.
1. Be Consistent
Use your headshot as your profile photo on all social media platforms, so you are instantly recognizable to people looking for you. Furthermore, try to pick the same username on all platforms. Be strategic in your header photos; they should describe you but not be overdone. Try to update your page frequently, so it always looks fresh and up-to-date. Always put the same link to your website across your social media and always encourage fans to click on it. Connect your contact details (email and phone number), so your acquaintances can find you.
2. Do some Spring Cleaning
The more professional and know you appear, the more people will trust your page and follow you. Keep your ratio small, follow fewer people than those following you, so the gap seems large. This ratio will give people the impression that you have many fans. Unfollow those who aren’t engaging with you after some time. Try to get verified on Twitter and Instagram to increase your credibility. It’s easy to get verified on Twitter, and you can find more information here.
3. Post strategically
Once you have done some of these steps, your followers will start to increase, and you will need to be more cautious. Twitter and Instagram Analytics will tell you which times of the day your followers are most active, and you must use that information to your advantage. Once again, hashtags are your primary friend on these social media platforms, and they are fundamental. Find the hashtags that are popular and apply to you, but be careful not to overdo it.
Invest time in finding like-minded people in the industry and interact with them every day. Moreover reply, retweet, repost, quote, react, and even private message to their inbox! Don’t be shy, as other professionals are also there in hopes of making new connections. Make a great first impression, and the rest will come on its own.
Of course, creating your digital brand isn’t going to be an easy task. It involves many steps, careful planning, and detailed posting. Not to mention how much time it may take up. However, once you sit down and start to perfect your brand and your online presence, it is only going to benefit you and your career. So, what are you waiting for, use this as a guide towards taking the first step to being well-known in the industry.