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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Networking with Social Media


Social Media is an Important Marketing Tool

Love it or hate it, you’ve got to do it. 
Social media is not just the wave of the future, it’s here now.
And, it’s a good thing!  

It’s where connections are being made, ideas are being exchanged, information is abundant, and work can be had.  It’s time to jump in and learn what it’s all about, and how it works, if you haven’t already.

The Business of Selling Yourself

Networking is crucial to running a successful business.  Whether you’re incorporated, or not, you must get good at marketing.  We are all in the business of selling products.  For actors and performers, your main product is yourself.  

Start with creating your own website and/or YouTube Channel.  This will provide a place for potential employers, and new contacts, to view your business.  It will also provide you with a link you can post on Facebook and Twitter, which will allow you to drive friends and followers to your website where they can learn more about you, and purchase whatever you’re selling. 

Although attending events is necessary and networking in person can be enjoyable, social media is  actually where it’s all happening.  You’ll be able to stay in touch with the people you’ve met at these events and build lasting relationships online.

Make Choices That Work For You

I’m going to limit our discussion to Facebook and Twitter because, in my experience, they’re currently the best social media resources for networking.  Plus, they work well together.  A Tweet can magically appear on your Facebook page, which saves you time since you don’t have to upload to two different places.

A friend of mine is turned off by the trivial banter, wasted time, and invasion of privacy.  But he can use social media strictly for business, without having to divulge any personal information.  He can choose his friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter. 

Regarding the privacy issue: if we have cell phones and computers, we can be tracked.  Much of our information is already available online, whether we like it or not.

Be Selective

If you’re concerned about privacy, educate yourself on the settings in the various sites, and make adjustments accordingly.  Don’t post your home phone, address, email, birthday, relationship information, or family names.  Keep it strictly business, and be selective.  Remember that everything you post is available for everyone to see.  Potential employers are often looking on Facebook & Twitter to check profiles, so just be aware of that when you’re posting. 

Limit Your Time

If you’re concerned about the time element, limit yourself.  You don’t have to spend more than 10 minutes a day on Facebook or Twitter to be effective. 

“You spend a lot of time on Facebook,” one of my girlfriends told me at a recent gathering. 

“I really don’t,” I said.  “I log on and post some photos or information.  I don’t hang around chatting or visiting other friend’s pages.  Sometimes I’ll read the latest postings on my Home page, but I’m usually on Facebook less than 10 minutes a day.”

Connections

You do have to interact with others to get the most out of it, and sometimes I will spend more time on social media than I had anticipated.  However, that extra time is good for building relationships.  It can also generate work.  For instance, a Director/Producer I’d worked with in the past contacted me about hosting an infomercial.  He wanted to run it by me before calling my agent.  I checked out the product and was very interested.  My agent negotiated a lucrative deal for me!

FYI: That Director/Producer had lost my email address, so he took a chance and searched for me on Facebook.   (This kind of thing happens frequently and is a good reason to have a Facebook page.) 

A Free Publicist

I like to think of social media as my own free publicist.  Publicists are very expensive, often charging over $5,000/month with a 3-month minimum. 

With Social Media, I can announce my television appearances, film screenings, website updates, blog articles, and more, for free.

I have a friend who writes, produces, and directs his own films.  He has a YouTube Channel and uploads trailers and promos there.  Social media is an excellent way to get the word out when his films are screening in festivals.  

On Twitter, Another World often retweets my blog, website, and appearances to all of their followers.  (I played Nicole Love on the soap opera, Another World.)  

On Facebook, my friends share the information I post, which makes it available to all of their friends.  

Sharing information is an essential element for growing a business, and you can do it without an expensive publicist.

Good Wishes

It doesn’t take long to say “Thank You” or wish a good friend “Happy Birthday!” 
I googled Happy Birthday images and saved a photo of a birthday cake to my desktop.  I’ve googled images for all the holidays & upload the image when saying Happy Birthday, Happy Valentine’s day, Happy Thanksgiving, etc.  It always makes me smile when I receive good wishes and I know it touches others, too!

Retweet

On Twitter, I’ll often read a tweet that I think my followers will enjoy, and retweet it.  Retweeting is a great habit to develop.  It’s an excellent way to expand followers and build relationships.  If someone retweets you, reply with a nice thank you.  Let them know you appreciate them passing on your tweet. They have a different group of followers than you do, so you'll be exposed to a whole other group of people.

Tag, Comment, and Like

On Facebook, I’ll post photos on my own page, but I’m careful about tagging.  If you don’t like weird photos of yourself popping up on your Facebook page, you can only imagine how your friends may feel about you tagging them on their page.  It’s best to send them a private message & let them tag their own photos. 

Click the LIKE button and give a 'thumbs up' to comments you enjoy.  Leave thoughtful, supportive and upbeat comments of your own, but refrain from getting caught up in a political debate, or too much back and forth banter.  I’ve seen too many heated exchanges end in angry words.  Remember that every one of your friends has access to all your information, even those friends who are work contacts.  Think before you post.

Contribute – Share Your Wisdom

A writer recently sent me a Facebook message, asking if I’d like to contribute to her book about women in the entertainment industry.  Another writer asked if I’d like to contribute to her book on steadily working actresses, divulging secrets to my success.  I wrote pieces for both, and was thrilled to offer advice from my 30+ years of experience in the trenches of Hollywood.  Next week, I’m doing an interview about my experience working on a John Carpenter film.  I've received many other requests to do interviews and write articles for online magazines.  I am always happy to contribute.  Sharing wisdom is rewarding.

Information Exchange

Social media is a great way to stay connected with large groups of people.  Especially those you’ve worked with in a class, workshop, or production.  You can easily exchange information about upcoming events, screenings, and more. 

I found out that three actors I’d worked with on a commercial shoot had already received their paychecks, while I was still waiting for my check weeks later.  I got proactive, contacted my agent, and got paid.  Networking helps you stay on top of things.

Etiquette

Use common courtesy.  Don’t put your work stuff on other people’s pages.  Post it on your own page & ask them to share it.  I check my Facebook page regularly to make sure nothing has been posted that I don’t want there.  I recently sent a message to a ‘friend’ asking him to please stop posting ads on my page.  When he disregarded my message and kept posting his ads, I unfriended him.   

Remember when you respond to a tweet or comment, everyone can see it.  If you have more to say, there are ways to a have a private conversation.  Be considerate.  Use the private messaging features. 

If someone I don’t know sends me a friend request, I usually make sure we have at least five friends in common before accepting it.  Sometimes I just trust my instincts though.  You can always unfriend someone if they become a nuisance.  I don’t know all my ‘friends’ personally.  Many are fans.  I’m looking forward to meeting them in person one day.  I’ve built some nice friendships since I started using social media.  

Offering Deals

It’s a good idea to share something interesting about yourself, instead of just tweeting about your work all the time.  When you tweet about your successes, and invite followers to check out your website, classes, events, films, television shows, artwork, music, products, or anything else work related, it would be nice for the next tweet to be a bit more personal.  Give some free advice, or offer words of wisdom filled with helpful hints.  Post a witty remark, or share something you enjoy. 

A girlfriend of mine, who runs a very successful online business, bought a huge book of famous Quotes.  She sits at her computer with a glass of wine at night, opens the thick book and posts a few of her favorite quotes.  Then she offers a great discount for her classes and/or products, and gives incredible deals to the first five followers who respond.  Brilliant! 

Help!

If you’ve read all this and it’s still confusing, help is on the way!  I gave you an overview, but there’s more to learn.  Once you get set up, you’ll see how easy it is to network using social media.  You may have to ask for some assistance.  I know I did.  I still do!  There always seems to be something new to learn.  If you have a question, email me and I’ll answer it, or I’ll find someone who can.  

Twitter has a great Help Center on its site.  They actually explain how to use it!

Facebook requires a bit more finesse.  They always seem to be changing things, but if you bounce around on their site, you’ll learn a lot.  And you’ll find that friends will notify each other when changes occur.    

Stay current by checking online for updates.  I read WIRED magazine on my new iPad and love staying informed about all the new technology. 
 
If you’re still scratching your head, I’ve recommended a few books below.  And, of course, there are free apps for Twitter and Facebook so you can access your accounts 24/7 with your mobile phone!

Create, Share, Connect

Use your imagination.  Be creative.  Generate new ideas.  Come up with interesting ways to share yourself.  Engage others.  Grow your database.  Expand your business.  Meet new people.  Build relationships.  Open your mind.  Learn new things.  Widen your horizons.  Have some fun in the process.  Connections generate work.    


Enjoy networking with social media & be sure to email me your success stories!




The Queen of Everything tips her tiara to you! 
         Thank you for being a blog reader.





BOOKS ON SOCIAL MEDIA (*I’ve read the ones with the asterisks)

FACEBOOK FOR DUMMIES - Also available in the  Mini Edition* on Amazon for a penny! 

GETTING STARTED WITH TWITTER FOR DUMMIES

TWITTER FOR DUMMIES

*TWITTER MARKETING FOR DUMMIES

*SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING All-In-One For Dummies by Jan Zimmerman & Doug Sahlin


If you can't stand the thought of reading a book with DUMMIES in the title, you can find other choices on Amazon.com or at your local bookstore.  


Here are a few other books that I’m reading right now that I highly recommend:

IMAGINE: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer.  (It’s inspiring to read about how ideas are birthed.)

AT LEFT BRAIN TURN RIGHT: An Uncommon Path to Shutting Up Your Inner Critic, Giving Fear the Finger and Having an Amazing Life by Anthony Meindl

MADE TO STICK: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

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