Let me start off by saying this: there are no excuses for not utilizing social media. Just as I am an advocate for everyone having their own actor website (you can get it for free, duh), I understand that my opinion might be weighed on that topic. But I do not run Twitter and Instagram, so you know I have nothing to gain, so trust me when I say that as a creative you need to get your social media game in check.
If you haven't used any of the social media apps before, it may take you a week or two to figure things out, but once you get good at this, it's super easy. Each social media website has guidelines that maximize your exposure such as posting at specific times and on specific days. Some outlets accept text, some accept photos and videos, and some do each better than others. Following these guidelines WILL increase your social media activity and ultimately your popularity.
Why is it important?
I agree, having a large following on your social media may or may not influence your overall success. It's never a guarantee, but producers like to cast actors who keep up with social media because hiring them brings more fans to the production itself. Put yourself in their shoes. If they can hire two individuals who can act at about same level, you and another actor at your level, and it's a true split decision, they will very likely do a quick google lookup to find you. If you have no social media accounts, and the other person has 50K followers, who do you think will get the gig?
If someone can send a 280 character message to their followers and tell them about the upcoming project, these followers might become the project followers as well. There's a huge value in that. Today, people get cast in series regular roles simply because they have a large fan base, even if they are not even actors.
Here is a good network to start with because it is as simple as it gets. You have to acquire followers and engage with them. Your messages cannot surpass the 280 character limit, so get creative and be interesting. Check out this hashtag for #actorslife to get an idea of what other actors are doing. And while I'm on the topic of hashtags, please research them when you use them, if you are the only one using the hashtag, you are not really starting a trend, you are most likely using it wrong.
Do shout-outs or mentions with the @ symbol, but don't include too many people in each tweet, because when you do you are pretty much telling that person "look at what I'm saying" - if it's not relevant to them, don't use the mention, if it is relevant, they might appreciate you for doing that. For instance, if you want to tell people that this blog article, has inspired you to be more active on social media, you could say "Thanks @webforactors for constantly inspiring us to be active on Social Media #actorslife https://www.webforactors.com/blog/social-media-for-actors" - see, not difficult at all. :)
While Twitter is text based, Instagram is more photo and video based. You can add text to your photos and videos, but the main piece of content is the photo or video itself. Actors are creative people, so get creative with your posts and see what gets attention. Within the app, you can quickly apply filters to your photos to enhance their look. Play around with it a bit, see which ones you enjoy the most. Maybe you're a purist and don't like filters, that's fine too, but scroll through a few options, if none make your photo pop, that's fine, just leave them as is.
Add text to your photos and videos. These are called captions, there's no limit, but you can't put in any links and well, even though there's no limit, you should consider having a limit yourself. You don't want to post a novel in your account. Just as in Twitter, you can use hastags and mentions the very same way. You may see people abuse these quite often, listing 100 hashtags to try to cover more area. If it's not on topic, you will start losing your subscribers quickly. Be on topic, don't overuse the hashtags.
Need to get few more followers on Twitter and Instagram? Don't buy them from spammy websites. In fact, never buy followers, it's a waste of money to pay for fake accounts that will never engage with your content. Find other like-minded people to follow you. Give Karmalicity a try - you will find other actors, filmmakers and producers on there who are willing to connect with you. They're already in your industry, so you know they're the right audience.
You know I have to mention Actor Websites. While everything on Social Media is moving fast and yesterday's content might become old (old) news, you still have to have a bit of stability in your online presence. Websites can be your rock that offers links to your social media channels, but also display a curated set of your media, resume and provide contact information.
Debate questions for you:
How do you use Instagram as an actor? How do you promote yourself as an actor? Do actors use Linkedin? Do actors need a website? I'd love to hear from you all.
Julie S. I ask myself whether casting directors are looking at facebook or youtube or any other popular social network? It is hard. Heidi Dean has a strategy to get you seen. Particular actresses and artists create a community and meet on facebook. There's a list of top hollywood facebook channels I saw years ago. I'm sure there are some new ones out there now.
Kim B. Social media for actors is a great topic, but all these network are becoming marketing platforms. Every working professional needs a powerful tool to promote self to agents / manager plus movie / film projects. I read that influencers have to be experts in understanding data and their role as a star talent. There's a lot of misinformation out there. Forbes author claims that opportunities for work in digital marketing can't provide financial security. Not everyone can be Dwayne Johnson.
Michael S. I'm no expert, but appreciate all tips. I believe my personal Linkedin profile helps me being influential as a director, but now I spend time on art and increasing number of video plays. I'd love to learn ways to cut through ranks.
Suzie O. Industry today requires online profile to network, so actors are looking at social media to connect with directors in Hollywood. It can be a casting tool. Julie mentioned Heidi Dean, she knows quite a bit about social media for actors. I think she's on social media under marketingactors. We have the power to grow our brand no matter what age. I wish my school did a workshop on social media as it applies to acting career.