The Clock is TikToking: What is the deal with all this social media?
I have never been a fan of social media. I reluctantly joined Myspace in my early 20s (yes, I'm that old) because my friend convinced me to. Eventually in my late 20s I got on Facebook which I maintained solely to stay in touch with distant family and friends. Then I got into voice acting.
As I researched the field it seemed pretty split that some casting directors, agents, and managers couldn't care less if you have a social media presence, and others want to see that you're an influencer before they'll work with you. It is also encouraged because the more people see you online, the more you are top of mind when they need a voice. So yet again I reluctantly jumped on the social media band wagon and joined LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. And last week I took, what I hope is the final plunge into social media by joining TikTok. So let me sum up each of these platforms (yes, there are others, but I've not dived into those yet). When you're approaching it from an "I want to have a presence that will get me noticed and keep me top of mind" perspective, here are the highlights.
This is the most professional of the platforms. Here you are expected to wear your business causal, keep the personal posts to a minimum, and don't hard sell yourself, but at the same time keep your posts career focused and gently promote. I am not a fan of the profile page. It is not attractive to the eye and is extensively wordy and a bit chaotic, which I find ironic since this is the "professional" site. I think it should have a more resume look to it, but that may be just me. At the time I write this, if you care about post views, the algorithm doesn't like posts with links or pictures that are of quotes. The algorithum also changes constantly. You are encouraged to connect with as many people as possible, but also, don't connect with anyone you don't know. It's a bit complicated and, for someone who is anxious, unnecessarily stressful. Still, I have a lot of valuable work related engagement on here and have made some amazing friends in my industry thanks to LinkedIn.
I found Twitter astronomically overwhelming at first. So many posts from all over the place and most of it was irrelevant to me. I'm also a talker and Twitter only lets you put 120 characters per post, so if you have a lot to say, you have to do a thread, which I find annoying to write and to read. However, I have grown to enjoy the brevity of the posts and as I have followed and received followers and tagged some interests, the content I see is more relevant to me, most of the time. I have connected with and had some really great engagements with folks I never would have for a moment thought I would talk with and I have some followers that make me feel like the coolest kid on the block.
Instagram is a photo/video based platform. You can't type links, you can only share other people's posts in your "Stories" and must always have a picture or video with your post. There is no character limit that I'm aware of and it is kind of nice not having the barrage of reposts that I sometimes get on Twitter. There are a lot of little components to Instagram that I am still learning, for example reels, which are essentially just videos, but they tend to get more attention than just posting a video in your feed or stories. This is the most visually appealing platform, but I find that the prominence of the imagery often leads to neglect of the accompanying text.
TikTok was an overwhelming nightmare when I first logged on. It is exclusively a video platform. The videos are called reels. Whenever you open the app you are immediately shown a video. I have to make sure my volume is turned all the way down because even if your phone is on vibrate, the video will blast very loudly, immediately. And when you first join and TikTok doesn't know what you like, you get bombarded with videos of all kinds of crazy stuff that makes your eyeballs burn. BUT, once you like some videos, follow some folks, and it gets a feel for your tastes, then it's easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of amusing and impressive clips. It is fascinating how brazen some people in this world are with the videos they post and then all of the likes those videos get! It is also wonderful how talented some people are and that they have this platform to share those talents with the world.
I still only maintain Facebook for family and friends, and also groups like my neighborhood page, the kids' school pages, and several VoiceOver groups. I don't really do "stories", and I don't connect with anyone I don't already have a personal connection with, so I can't say much about Facebook from a work related perspective, but I like it for keeping in touch with loved ones.
In the last week I have spent a lot of time learning about reels and making them. It is fun once you get past the fears of looking like a moron. And I love challenging myself and pushing past fears, so I will keep making reels when I have ideas. These also make great content on all of the platforms. The studier in me finds it fascinating what reels get the most attention and which ones don't. I'm performing my own little experiment on the world! I post every day on Instagram (or Insta or IG to the cool kids), LinkedIn (LI), and Twitter. I like to make inspirational posts and/or a humorous ones. Sometimes I post pictures of my dog or myself or something cool and occasionally a job I've done or some booths (selfies in the booth). And I comment. I like engaging with people I find interesting. I don't care much for algorithms or trends, I just like to post things that I think will make people smile, feel inspired, like they're not alone, or make them laugh.
I do find social media an organic way of reaching out because you can talk about all the things and if the conversation turns to an opportunity to work together, great. With direct marketing emails it feels so artificial, "hey, saw your website, so cool the work you've been doing!", pretending like I didn't look them up because I want to work with them. Social media allows me to look people and companies up that I'd love to work with and connect with them, but to have real conversations based on their posts or mine. And yes, I have still taken advantage of the opportunity to say "If my voice can ever be of service to you, I'd be delighted!", but again, it falls into the conversation organically.
So what does all this mean? What weight does a social media presence have on gainful employment in the entertainment industry? Honestly? After all of my extensive research and non existent data collecting, nothing. Yes, you can obtain work through social media exposure and the more of a presence you have the more top of mind you will be. But if all it does is stress you out, it won't be a successful platform. You can also obtain work through various other avenues. It's another tool to put in your tool box that can be very helpful in connecting, but not essential. SO, if you're going to go on social media, don't stress, don't put pressure on yourself. Connect with the people who interest you, the people you'd love to work with, and the people that inspire you. Post about the things that bring you joy, things that may have value to others, and post with kindness. Like most things in life, it is what you make of it. That's my two cents.
What do you use social media for? What is your favorite platform and why?
As always thank you for reading. Take care of yourself, take care of each other, and have a day as lovely as you are! In spirit with this post, feel free to follow me on all the socials! I'm MeganSelke_VO on all the things.