image via Make Lemonade
I was at an actor’s workshop with my friend a couple of weeks ago when I heard an agent say to an actor, “forget social media. Anyone who focuses on Instagram or other outlets to boost their online presence or their career is wasting their time”. The agent said it so matter-of-factly that I actually started to doubt my own beliefs about the beneficial aspects of social media. After dwelling on the statement for the past two weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that not only was I not wrong for disagreeing with this statement, but that I also have tons of personal experiences to back up my sentiment that social media IS beneficial to your career–whether it be acting, horse back riding, or law.
I was a late adopter of Instagram. I didn’t even fully start realizing the power of social media until 2012, after which time the majority of my friends had long since been hooked on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The lack of inclusion I felt with my friends was what initially led me to download and use Instagram. I had already used Facebook since college, but mainly as a personal photo album, where I would share pictures of my friends and I doing mostly embarrassing high school things. And that’s basically what I first used Instagram for as well. It wasn’t until I launched a small production company with a friend that I began to understand the true value of social media. My partner and I were looking for other artists to collaborate with in order to put together low budget music videos. We compiled our contacts but we were still lacking a few people. That’s when we turned to social media–we had been consistently posting pictures that inspired us and a few of ourselves, and had begun to attract a small audience on the app. People began to reach out and comment and even tell us that they really loved our page. Because of this, we were able to get in touch with two producers and an audio engineer.
What started as a fun experiment turned into the very thing that initially launched my digital content career. After learning how to promote my own company on social media, I began to study as many facets of social media programming as I could. I learned about apps to help edit pictures, apps that would schedule your posting, and even apps that like and comment for you. Four years later and what seems like endless time learning about social media and branding, I have reached the conclusion that as much as social media can bother me, it’s incredibly beneficial if you want to get noticed and/or network.
As an artist, it’s important to promote yourself, as weird as it may feel in the beginning. If you want your work to be known, people have to know where to find it. The whole process has been a bunch of experimentation followed by many failures, but I’ve learned a lot. And at the end of the day, the more time I spent putting into my social media “branding” and perfecting my craft, the more people I met because of it. Because I put so much comedic content on my social media accounts, I have attracted several different casting directors, fellow actors and photographers just from posting my work online. If I hadn’t used social media, I wouldn’t have been cast in a Tru TV show, I wouldn’t have met some of my closest friends, I wouldn’t have met the people I’m currently developing two different Amazon Prime shows with; I wouldn’t even be writing for Edit Seven! Sure I complain about the negative effects of social media, and those still hold true for me. I mean, at times, Instagram has made me go absolutely insane and doubt my self worth. However, at the end of the day, it’s helped advance my career more than most things I’ve done since I first began pursuing entertainment.
I’ve met several artists who are adamantly against the use of social media, and I understand where they’re coming from. However, when you’re in a competitive industry, social media can really only help give you access to an even bigger audience. I’m not saying that someone should spend all of their time fixating on their follower count or scrolling through other accounts comparing their lives to others. What I am saying though, is that if you can healthily use the app to put yourself or your product out into the world, it can only benefit you. Below are some of the main reasons I think it is important to use social media to bolster your brand or business.
Connect with People In Your Niche
There are SO many different groups of people who use social media. Whether you’re a fitness professional, an actor, a poet, an entrepreneur, a store owner, etc, there is a guaranteed group who will have similar interests to you on social media. For example, I recently met an entire group of people who were into cryptocurrency, only to learn that they have a huge online community and following.
Grow Your Brand and Presence Online
If you want to stand out, use social media! It’s a way to make yourself seem more professional and consistent in what you do. Because I do a ton of freelance work, the majority of sites I work with pretty much all ask to see my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Having a consistent image throughout all of them really makes you seem like an expert in your field
Like I said above, I have gotten a ton of employment opportunities through my use of social media. I had someone a couple days ago reach out and ask if I wanted to be interviewed for a television show just because she liked my Instagram content. My roommate who owns a PR company, consistently attracts clients because of her dedication to growing her social media accounts.
Grow Your Personal Audience
The larger your audience becomes, the more reputable you will appear. I started out creating digital content with just under 1,000 followers and have steadily grown to just over 18,000 in the past 3 years. It hasn’t been easy, and it’s in no way necessary to actively grow your social media accounts, but it has helped me secure some jobs because my account shows that I have a built in audience who I know will watch my videos or comment on my pictures.
Just this morning I clicked on an Instagram ad about digital media and SEO. I ended up reading about a program that is exactly like one I’ve been looking for. I’ve been dying to increase my knowledge of search engine optimization, and just by clicking on the ad, I was taken to a website that is incredibly reputable and is offering a course in exactly what I’m looking for.
In sum, regardless of what career you’re in, I can assure you with 99% certainty, that social media will help you boost your career, your sales, and your exposure. And, if you’ve just began your journey into social media usage – no need to fret. Just stay consistent, remind yourself of your company or brand’s message and identity, and keep posting!
(Story by Contributing Editor, Megan Nager)