The explosion of social media in recent years has had a remarkable impact on the professional world. The dance industry is no exception. Casting directors and choreographers will look at your social media. It is a great resource for them—not only for assessing your talent, but also for understanding who you are. It is, therefore, important to remember that you are a business. And you ought to keep your business professional! How would you want your social media to appear if Rihanna was looking at it? Did you know that Rihanna booked dancers solely off of Instagram for her 2018 Savage x Fenty New York Fashion Week Show? Pretty amazing!
Instagram is the most important social media platform that you should be on right now. You must have a presence on Instagram. In fact, Instagram is the perfect place to showcase who you are as a dancer. You should be posting both videos and pictures. If you can do multiple styles of dance, then illustrate that fact through your posts—and make sure your versatility is immediately apparent to your viewer. No one should have to dig tiresomely through Instagram to discover your range and talents.
To be blunt, casting directors don’t care about your dog, or the football game you attended, or the picture of you and your mom by the Christmas tree. I know that’s harsh. But again, this is a business. If you want to post this personal content, then I suggest creating a second Instagram account, putting it on your Instagram story, or putting it on Facebook! Your feed is a tool for you to use to your advantage.
Content that you should post on your Instagram:
- Headshots (viewers shouldn’t have to scroll more than once or twice to find a headshot)
- Professional work (e.g., Latin AMA’s Performance, music videos)
- Non-professional performances (e.g., Choreographers Carnival Ball, Jete, Posers)
- Video Projects (e.g., concept videos)
- Class videos
- Professional print work
- Promotional materials for up-coming performances that you are in
- Your Reel
- Pictures with industry figures (e.g., Kyle Hanagami, Brian Friedman)
*Yes, selfies are okay to post—but only if you’re using them to demonstrate your ability to pull off different styles (e.g., quirky, sexy, edgy, etc.).
When posting on Instagram, make sure that you use hashtags, tag clothing and/or makeup brands, and add your location to photos and videos. Doing these things will help to connect you not only to the people in the community, but to the wider world.
YouTube or Vimeo
Last week, we discussed the importance of having video footage of yourself. Once you have that footage, you need a single, easy-to-use platform for people to view your video materials. This is why I suggest having a YouTube or Vimeo account. These platforms are accessible for casting directors and are widely used. You don’t have to post a ton of videos. But it’s important to have at least one (even if it is just for your reel).
Even if your child is very young, it’s useful to start social media accounts for them (especially Instagram). Start gathering footage now and build their portfolios (i.e., their Instagram feed). If your child is old enough to have his or her own social media accounts, it is still okay for parents to monitor the activity on those accounts. It’s not that you can’t trust your child. It’s that you can’t always trust the people who are viewing your child’s social media. Be sure to check personal/direct messages and comments on photos and videos. If a comment is inappropriate, please delete it and block that user from your account.
Yes, other people can be creepy. This does not mean, however, that you should set your accounts to “private.” You want casting directors, choreographers, agents, and artists to be able to find you and see your content. If it is set to “private,” then they will move on and you may miss that opportunity. If you and/or your child have another account for personal use, then it is okay to make that one private.
At this point, some of you may be thinking, “How important are my number of followers?” Before we answer this question, please remember that this number doesn’t determine your self-worth. The short answer is no, the number of followers you have doesn’t matter. There is one exception, and I will get to that in a moment. First, remember that you will certainly come across a dancer on Instagram who posts a lot of class videos. And those videos may have tons of likes and comments. But consider the most important question: is that dancer booking work? The answer might very well be no. Alternatively, you might find a user who only has a few hundred or thousand followers and isn’t releasing as many hype class videos. And the reason for this might be that he or she may be on tour or is constantly booking! Getting work that pays and getting professional experience will (almost) always outweigh your “follower” numbers on Instagram when it comes to booking future work. The first materials casting directors and choreographers will be looking at, are your headshots and resumes! The more professional work and experience on your resume the better your chances to move on to the next round (after of course, slaying the combination you were given).
The one exception to this rule (i.e., when it is better to have more followers) is when you are trying to get sponsored by a brand. Brands sponsor social media users who have a ton of followers. These companies are trying to reach a large audience in order to expand their customer base. The simple fact is that it isn’t useful to them to sponsor social media users who only have a handful of followers.
There are a lot of conflicting opinions regarding quality over quantity in social media. Some people say you should post every day. If you agree with that opinion, remember that you don’t post something just to post something. Make sure that you stay on brand, and keep your content focused on the entertainment industry. Personally, I might not post for a few weeks. But when you go to my page, my feed is all entertainment and dance related. Some of the most “famous” dancers on Instagram don’t post every day, or even every week!
Other social media platforms—such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat—are not monitored as closely by hiring professionals. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t carefully maintain your presence on those platforms. As a rule of thumb, across all forms of social media, you should avoid discussions of politics, money, and religion. This is nothing new. It is a long-standing norm in polite company and polite conversation to refrain from such topics. And sticking to that rule will also help you to stay focused on the professional aspect of your social media accounts. Finally, please keep the following question in mind: both in the dance industry and in the wider world, how do you want to be perceived? Your social media should always reflect that.