I'm not sure if there is any subject more controversial than that of the necessity of social media for actors. Is it in fact the wave of the future? It certainly seems so.
Show of hands: how many of you battle with embracing social media into your careers? Or, how many of you believe you have lost out on a job opportunity because of a lacking presence on Twitter or Instagram?
Whether you have taken to it easily and have gained thousands of followers or are still unsure about what to post and if anyone will really care, the end result is basically the same. You feel like your number of followers is never big enough.
Let's face it, the old way of casting projects and pitching talent has become drastically spoiled by the digital revolution. The more recent trend of YouTube and Vine stars increasingly landing major roles in feature films and television, along with getting signed to the some of the world's top agencies is here to stay, for now.
In a time "where Americans only buy four movie tickets a year," network heads, producers, agents, and casting directors are swayed by talent with a larger number of followers. In the eyes of these professionals, the number of "likes" you get on a photo or a tweet directly correlates to a dollar amount you can generate for a production. Aspects such as marketing and ticket sales are deemed secured by banking on the number of social media followers attached to the actor.
I had my first experience with this when my team advised me to start working on growing my following on social media after a job didn't go my way, a couple of years ago. It came down to the wire between me and another actor. When given the choice of casting an actor with a low number of followers or one with slightly higher numbers they went with their more "bankable" option. What does this mean for you?
It is certainly soul-shattering for any actor who respects the audition process and puts in the hard work it takes to book a role to be cast off for having less followers, and I hope that the industry recognizes this conundrum. Nevertheless, it is common practice and in these instances you must remind yourself of the truth:
These numbers can be corrupted or bought and therefore are not a TRUE depiction of your bankability and more importantly your talent! Instead of becoming obsessed with raising followers emanating from not being cast, I suggest to keep working hard at your craft with vigor and veracity.
In time, the followers will come. Till then, you must preserve your SANITY by trying to brush aside the trivial temptations of seeming more involved than anybody else, the addiction to virtual acceptance, and of the fear of missing out.
Your job as an actor is to Do your work. It will speak louder than a double-tap.
Share with me some of your experiences with social media and casting in the comments below!