10 Nov Social Media- What’s the Big Deal?

I was recently in a room full of actors, waiting for our latest opportunity to read for a casting director, when I was floored by the conversation happening in regard to social media. Now, I know some industry folks HATE social media and deliberately choose not to use it. I get it — it has that time-suck effect, some (at times) awful herd mentality issues, and they keep coming up with new platforms that are not always intuitive. Really, I get it, and I am firm believer of finding the things that work for YOU.

But when people refuse to admit the role that the online world plays in our industry, I’m flabbergasted. I mean, we exist in a time when people are winning Emmys for WEB CONTENT (Check out the Network listed -> YouTube!). It is becoming common practice for CDs/directors/producers to check and see what sort of following you have when they’re considering casting you. There are an increasing number of film festivals that exist entirely online. And if you ever want/need to do crowd funding, it is essential that you have an online presence.

When an actor shows clear distain for social media because they simply don’t understand it, I feel the need to try to help them get a handle on it. In this particular conversation, the discussion went something like this:

Me: “I love Twitter because I can connect with industry professionals from all over the world. I’ve had friends book jobs across the country from the relationships they’ve established online, and I’ve built strong collaborations with people I know from our online interactions.”

Them: “I just can’t imagine going on there and sending my headshot to someone and saying ‘Hey I’m an Actor, give me a job!’”

Their response, frankly, shocked me. Their understanding of “using social media to further your career” was blindly spamming all the industry contacts you happened to come across. I completely understand why one would find that disgusting. It is. But that isn’t what social media is about at all! In my view, social media is all about authentically connecting with folks online, finding people whose work you really enjoy and sharing that with them, offering solutions when folks have questions, sharing resources, and more. The truly amazing thing is that you can connect and build relationships with folks from all over the country and around the world!

Their response, when I expressed this belief, was “Oh! So you like… have to be a real person. Actually work to make friends. It’s like real life.”

YES. EXACTLY. There is no “trick” to social media. There isn’t a secret that only a privileged few know to advertise that they are actors ready for work. The “trick” is that social media gives you access to industry professionals at all levels of this business. You can start conversations with people at your tier, the tier above you, or the tier you hope to someday achieve simply by ENGAGING with them about their latest project, latest promotion, or heck, even their latest joke 😉

My friend, actress Wonder Russell, does this better than anyone I know. When I first moved to Seattle (and first joined twitter) she was like this local celebrity that was connected to EVERYONE. She was funny, vulnerable, spunky, and just darn likable, and everyone I met in the industry knew her, or at least knew OF her. Then I met her in person and SHE’S LIKE THAT IN REAL LIFE. As we’ve become friends, I’ve been continually inspired by the ease and grace with which she utilizes social media. She shares herself, is incredibly supportive of others in the community, and is exceptionally adept at making friends with people she’s never met face-to-face. She’s even gotten work where they flew her across the country to star in their movie, without ever meeting her in person beforehand. Powerful, powerful stuff.

I guess for me, the point isn’t to use social media “to get jobs.” That feels small. In reality, social media has expanded my connections from the limited number of people I’ve met or who live in my city, to creative’s all over the country and world that I can now share ideas with, watch their work, learn from, and collaborate with. And that, I think, is a very big deal.

Which social media platforms do you use? I’d love to hear from you! And find me on Twitter- @sarahjeagen Happy connecting!

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