Gone are the days when Hollywood stars appeared to be otherworldly titans stored on unreachable shelves, only taken down for awards shows or filming projects. Over the years, actors have become brands, with audiences craving every detail about their lives. Thanks to Instagram and X (formerly known as Twitter), icons like Jane Fonda and Tom Hanks are right at fans’ fingertips—well, at least the curated image they’d like the world to see.
There are mixed opinions on what an actor’s relationship to social media should be. Some link the online networks directly to fame seekers vs. people who care about the craft, while others see the value in cultivating their own audience. At the end of the day, social media can be an invaluable resource for budding actors when approached correctly.
Here’s a basic three-fold system for mining the caverns of social media for career-boosting diamonds.
Craft a profile that best represents you.
Good news—you are early on in your acting journey! Which means you have a fresh slate to work with. When crafting a social media presence, put some thought into who you are. Deep, I know. While social media is fun, you want to make sure you lay a foundation of authenticity to build upon. That’s what followers are attracted to. And furthermore, that’s what entertainment audiences are attracted to—you.
Who am I anyway? Am I my resume? I’ll answer these “A Chorus Line” posed questions and tell you—your resume is a part of your life, not the other way around. Ponder what it is that you uniquely put out into the world, and then, in your dream of dreams, what you’d like to bring to the world down the line. And no, the answer to this one isn’t necessarily acting. That might be a vehicle to it, but think about your unique perspective.
That said, from a logistical standpoint, your profiles are your calling cards. So ensure that it says “actor” on your profile, in addition to linking your actor website or reel.
Follow and engage with accounts that empower you.
Your newsfeed should be a stream of love. In addition to following your family and friends, follow accounts that both inform and inspire, so you’re not bombarded with toxic blurbs every time you log in. You can likely find your favorite actors, writers, directors, etc. on social media, so that’s a great place to start. Ensure that every profile feeds you and doesn’t send you into a spiral of comparison. After all, when we compare, we despair.
A pitfall many make is to follow a bunch of accounts, hoping these accounts will then follow them and like their content. While that’s part of the game, it’s a losing strategy. Social media is social. In order to run a thriving account, you have to engage with others. Like, comment and repost more than you post your own stuff. And who knows—commenting on accounts of people you wish to work with could lead to opportunities.
Another wonderful aspect of social media is that it can be used to connect with fellow artists. X Spaces (yes, they are still a thing) and Facebook Groups are two wonderful tools for this, although you must be vigilant about the groups you’re joining. In the end, you can find a community to cheer you on and collaborate with.
Provide content that is valuable to your followers.
Using social media to advance your acting journey only works if you post. While engagement is extremely important, it’s not as effective if you don’t share your own original content. Ideally, your posts should check off the three E’s:
First and foremost, in an age where there’s a never-ending flow of content for consumers, you have mere seconds to stand out and make someone stop scrolling. Think about the posts that make you stop. Do you like really cool behind-the-scenes photos? Do you get drawn in by a head-turning headline of text over videos or photos? Do you enjoy unique artwork? There has to be that vacuum element that sucks followers in.
After you’ve gotten people’s attention, you want them to engage! Perhaps the photo is so shocking or hilarious that followers automatically comment and like. However, you may need more. Maybe you post a video that fellow actors can relate to that ends with a question, asking them to share their own experiences in the comments. Always have a call-to-action element.
Don’t worry—you don’t have to teach people something with every post! We mean “educational” in the sense that it impacts users, whether it’s inspirational or informative. Provide content that affects people and makes them want to share it. Sharing (especially from accounts with larger followings) is huge.
Now, if this is all shaping up to sound like a full-time job, that’s because it is! Of course, only bite off what you can chew. If you want to benefit from social media, you’re going to want to plan. Set doable goals for yourself by saying “I will post X amount of times this week,” and then develop a plan to make that happen. Some users do “content days” where they film five videos for the week in one day. Do what works for you!
Remember, an actor’s social media shouldn’t be all-consuming. Once you enter that space, you’re an influencer, which in the end could help your career, but may not be your desire.
However, be warned against falling into the trap of purchasing followers. You’ve no doubt seen people who right off the bat buy ten thousand followers to make themselves look more hireable to producers. Guess what? Everyone can tell they’re bots, and it ends up hurting you in the algorithm.
In the end, if you take nothing else away from this, hark back to the fact that what works with acting works with social media—approach everything with authenticity.
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Robert Peterpaul is a writer, podcaster and performer, who can be seen in films like IFC's “King Cobra,” T-Mobile ad campaigns, and TV shows like CBS' “BULL.” He currently hosts the hit podcast The Art of Kindness with the Broadway Podcast Network. Other writing and hosting highlights include: NBC’s “Access Hollywood” and “America’s Got Talent,” “BUILD Series,” the Huffington Post and serving as the Weekend Editor for HOLA!/ HELLO! USA for six years. He also co-founded his family’s nonprofit the Thomas Peterpaul Foundation, which aims to end pediatric cancer. Robert has studied at the Barrow Group, Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, UCB and earned a B.A. from Marist College. Thank you for reading and keep following your bliss! www.robertpeterpaul.com