As an actor I’m sure you feel the pressure to be on Instagram — after all, everyone keeps talking about how your social media following + presence helps you get cast right?
Well, numbers aside (that’s a WHOLE different story) I want to walk you through my 5 Golden Rules of Instagram for Actors, giving you some really simple steps on how you can use IG to grow your personal brand as an actor.
Know you need to be on Instagram to help grow your personal brand and succeed in your acting career, but don’t know how to do it? Watch this video, because I’m going to give you my five golden rules to social media success on Instagram for actors.
Welcome back to the channel, or this is your first time here, welcome and hello. My name is Kat Elizabeth. I am an actor and online entrepreneur based in Vancouver. Now, working as a professional actor and a professional marketing strategist means I have seen the power of social media and how it can not only help you land agents, impress casting directors and producers, but also open up opportunities like brand deals and things that you never thought were possible. So in this video I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about getting your Instagram profile and content up to scratch, whether you’re an actor, performer or creative. And I have a little bit of a freebie for you at the end to help, so make sure you watch right until the end of this video.
All right, let’s get stuck in. Golden rule number one is you need to have a fantastic profile photo. So not only does it need to be really close up and bright and fresh looking, please make it a professional one, not a little selfie that you took, it’s just going to make all the difference, but you also really want to be looking straight down the lens, because people connect with you a lot more and you get a better feel for the person’s personality with those kind of photos as opposed to something that’s very like, let’s see, an angled and looking away, which might be fine in your usual feed, but your profile photo is your hero shot, so make sure it’s a good one.
Now, it doesn’t have to be your headshot. In fact, I don’t really like using my headshot as my profile photo because I find it lacks a little bit of personality. Your profile photo is the perfect opportunity to show off more of yourself, so you still want it to be on brand, but it can be a little bit outside the barriers of what you’d normally do in a headshot shoot. So for instance, my photo that I use was actually taken at my headshot shoot, so same makeup, hair, and outfit, but I was more relaxed in the photo, and being a little bit more fun and quirky as opposed to being all serious. Like, “Look at me, I’m an actor.”
And my other tip is that even though we’re talking about Instagram today, make sure that you use the same photo on all of your social media profiles, because it just makes you so much easier to recognize. People don’t always read the bio. They don’t look at your handle, but they will see your photo. So pick one that you love and stick with it for a decent amount of time. Try not to change it more than sort of once to twice a year, because otherwise it can just get a little bit confusing.
Golden rule number two is all about your bio, which is often a very wasted opportunity that I’ve seen, especially from actors and performers for some reason. I think because we see these really well-known actors like celebrities that put something really quirky or that doesn’t even make sense, because they’re just too cool for school, unfortunately because we’re not celebrities, we can’t get away with that. You want to use your bio for people to be able to find you, to know what you do, and where you are, and all of those things. So please just take advantage of the full amount of space.
So things that you really should be including, now, this isn’t to say that it has to be written in a really boring and dry way. Use your personality, but make sure they know what you do, where you’re actually based. If you’re represented, it’s a great idea to put your agent’s name there, or website or an email address, or something. And then you can also just throw in some fun stuff so that people can connect with you on a more personal level. So are you a comic book nerd? Are you obsessed with shopping at Target? Something that just tells people something. This is all part of building that personal brand of yours, so really think about the kinds of roles that you want to be going for, and the way you want to be perceived, and make sure that that fun fact or fun facts that goes in that section actually aligns with that and makes sense. Otherwise you could just confuse people further.
Now, question of the day is, are you currently using Instagram strategically to help your acting career, or do you use it just for fun? There’s no right or wrong answer. I would just love to know, so let me know in the comments below.
Golden rule number three is your visual aesthetic. I know. It sounds so important, but guess what? It actually is important. So your visual aesthetic is all about that powerful first impression that you create. While people tend to only really look at your actual profile on Instagram once and maybe occasionally they’ll check back in there, like most of the time they’re seeing your photos in their feed, you still want to make sure you create that really amazing first impression, and that tends to come from your first nine to 12 photos.
So the ways that you can create a very consistent visual aesthetic are things like using the same Instagram filter every time you post a photo, or don’t use any at all, but make sure that your photos are edited in the same way, so a similar amount of brightness and contrast. Are you always going to sort of do the blur so that you focus on the face? Are you going to add a border to all of your photos? It doesn’t really matter what it is, but consistency is key.
It’s also a good idea to think about the actual themes of your content. So when you are being strategic with Instagram, unfortunately I don’t think it’s a good idea to just post willy nilly posts, everything from that ugly photo of your breakfast to a random photo of a snail on the ground. While if you had a private profile and it was really just for you, then fine, post whatever you want, but you do need to think that this is like a public photo album, and people kind of use Instagram these days as much as they use websites to get an idea of who you are.
So what I like to do is have pre-selected some content themes that I know I’m going to post about, and it’s going to be unique to everyone, but some ideas for actors specifically are obviously things like behind the scenes, your health and fitness routine, anything that’s social is a really good idea. Friends and family can be great as well, and then make sure that there’s plenty of scattered images that are kind of a bit more high end and professional as well, because you want to show people the professional version of you and the behind the scenes version and show that they’re not actually that different.
Another way that I like to make mine quite consistent is play with how much white space there is. So if I have one photo that is very much a close up in one square, the next square, I’ll make sure it’s further away and there’s a bit more white space around me, and then I’ll go back to a close up again, and this just kind of relaxes our eye when we see the feed. If it’s too cluttered and every photo is full of heaps of detail and the photos clash, that can really just create a bit of an ugly look. Another way to do this is go one colored photo, and then one black and white photo, and repeat and repeat and repeat, or you could go a photo, then a quote, then a photo, then a quote. Just ways to kind of create a little bit of breathing room, which is going to make you look so much more professional and make it easier to scroll and enjoy your feed as a whole.
If you are sharing things that you design yourself, just make sure you use some templates so they look consistent. So if you love posting inspirational quotes from other actors, then design yourself a template or two templates that use the same fonts, same color scheme, and you use them every single time, and it’s just going to make your feed look like a professional brand feed as opposed to, looking like a dog’s breakfast, as we say.
But the number one thing I want to remind you is that this is public, and the way social media works these days is that things can come back to bite you. So always be thinking, “Would I be happy for a well known director or casting director or producer to see this photo?” And if you wouldn’t, then don’t post it, because once it’s out there, there’s no going back. You might delete it, but someone can find it somewhere.
Golden rule number four is all about your captions, which is another really wasted opportunity. A lot of actors I’ve seen, either they’ll only post something meaningful when they’ve been on set and they’re like, “Hashtag #blessed, hashtag #grateful, hashtag #onset,” or they’ll be hashtagging things about other famous actors, and they’ll just put in quotes from actors and well known quotes with their selfies and things. And it shows us nothing about you. I think it’s so much more interesting if you actually share some stories about what’s going on, what you’re learning, what you’re up to, find ways to teach other people and add some value to Instagram as opposed to just making it all about you, all about your ego. Because guess what? It’s actually not. This is a tool that can be used to grow your business, and if you use it right, you will see a change happen.
So I want you to really put a little bit more thought into your captions, and a really good way to do this is maybe plan for 50% of your posts to be planned ahead of time, so you can even pre-write the captions once a month and then leave the other half of the time to be spontaneous, because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You might want to post about an audition experience, or the fact that you are on set, or something will just come up that you feel like talking about and you don’t want to censor yourself because you didn’t leave space for that caption, but if you plan stuff ahead of time, you also don’t have to worry about that anxiety of like, “Oh no, what am I going to post?” And what I like to do is I do keep a list of inspiration. Sometimes it’s quotes, sometimes it’s stories, different things, so that when I’m feeling a little bit stuck and I’ve got a photo that I know I want to post, I can have a browse and go, “Oh yeah, that caption makes sense with this photo.”
A couple of technical tips with your captions is make sure you break up the paragraphs so they’re readable. If you just write this huge brain dump, and there is not one paragraph break, it is so hard to read. Like, that text is small, and people just see it and go, “Whoa. Too much.” I use later.com, which is a fantastic tool for pre-writing your captions and it copies and pastes all of the paragraph breaks into Instagram, but there are some free tools that do that as well. Actually, later.com is free up to 30 posts a month, so I’ll link to those below. It’s just a good thing to do. Another thing is just use emojis tastefully. I think it’s good to have a few emojis that are your go tos, that reflect your personality and are consistent, and then also just make sure you don’t use too many in any one post, because it can just look really spammy and immature, if we’re being honest.
All right. Golden rule number five is probably the most important one if you actually want your account to grow. Instagram used to be an easy place for people to find you. Everyone used hashtags a lot more. There were ways of hacking the system so that people discovered you and you kept ending up on suggested posts and things like that. That doesn’t happen anymore, so you can’t just create this content and go, “Look at me. I’m pretty. People are going to follow me.” That is just not how it works. We don’t actually want to go out and just find pretty people to follow.
Think about how you use Instagram. Generally we’re following people that, yes, they’ve got a nice feed, but they’re telling us something that we want to hear, so they’re teaching us, inspiring us, motivating us, and for you to actually get found, get seen in front of new people, you are going to have to be proactive, and so you need to actually reach out to other people before they find you and start interacting with them. That means liking their photos, commenting on their posts, replying to their stories. And I mean consistently. Like, you don’t do this once and think they’re just gonna follow you. Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes I’ll never follow you back, but you’ve still got to give it a try anyway.
A few great ways to actually reach out and find people that you’re interested in following in are hashtags. So looking at industry related hashtags, or anything you’re interested in, something that maybe it’s a hashtag that you use regularly, start looking at that hashtag and see who else is posting in it and whether you’ve got something in common. Locations are a great idea. So someone that’s been checking in near where you are, see what they’re doing, especially if it’s something connected to the industry or hobby that you’re interested in.
Another way is looking at influencers’ profiles, so people that you follow and that you look up to that you feel like are in alignment with what you do and what you believe in, and then looking at the people that follow them and are commenting. So interact with their followers in the comments, click through to their followers’ pages, look at their stuff, like, comment, all of that kind of stuff, and then it’s just going to keep making you visible in ways that you weren’t before, because these days, even with using 30 hashtags in a post, you were still almost invisible if all you do is post.
Most importantly, you need to remember that none of this happens overnight. There is no immediate Instagram success, just like there’s no immediate acting career success. It takes consistency, showing up every single day, and to make sure that you do it consistently, I really recommend that this is something that you actually block out time to do in your calendar. So maybe you decide that three times a week for half an hour you’re going to engage with other people. Maybe for a couple of hours a month, you plan some posts ahead of time, and if you’re worried about having content to post, I highly recommend that you find a friend that’s feeling the same and start taking photos together.
You can become each other’s photographer without having to pay any money for a professional photoshoot. Obviously that’s the ideal. I love doing the occasional editorial style shoots. I’ve got some nice photos, but these days people seem to react just as well, if not better, to very candid looking, real photos. So there’s nothing wrong with grabbing a friend and an iPhone, and just going out and having a fun little photoshoot together, and start experimenting with how you want to communicate your personal brand, the way you dress, all of that, because that feed is going to start sending out messages to people about who you are, what your personality is like, and the roles that you could play, so in the long run, this could really pay off in big ways.
By the way, if you do want to make sure that you are building a consistent personal brand, I do actually have a free download for you, which is a Personal Branding Worksheet and Checklist, to start making sure that your marketing presence as an actor is consistent all around the internet. So you’ll find a link to that in the description box below, and if you liked this video, please give it a thumbs up. Subscribe so you don’t miss out on future videos. Share it with your active friends that would need this too, especially if you’re worried that their Instagram profile is just not up to scratch. And if you found this video helpful, please type “Instagram boss” in the comments below so that I know. Thanks as always for watching. Can’t wait to see you guys next time. Bye for now.
Don’t forget to download my Personal Branding for Actors Guide here 👉🏼http://bit.ly/actor-branding-workbook
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Kat is an actor and personal branding coach as well as the host of The Personal Branding Project Podcast and her self-titled YouTube channel. She started her career off by playing Marilyn at Warner Bros Movie World, went on to perform in the original Australian casts of Jersey Boys & Hairspray and eventually found herself writing/producing her own work before becoming a self-employed copywriter and marketing strategist. She now offers 1:1 Coaching and Online Courses for entrepreneurs, freelancers + multi-passionate creatives.