The Actor’s Guide to Social Media Etiquette

The Actor’s Guide to Social Media Etiquette

Molly Goforth

Here is a compendium of recent social media updates from an actor-acquaintance of mine whom I shall call Adrian Overstim:

March 22nd, 2017 2:46 p.m. Audition tomorrow for co-star role in Big Network Series! Shout out to my amazing agents Teri and Thierry at Exhaustive Talent

#actorlife #bitingmynails #OMG

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March 23rd, 2017 3:56 p.m. Called back for co-starring role in Big Network Series! So excited!  Thanks to my amazing coach Barrett at Book It With Barrett for fitting me in and to Todd at The Fragrant Bean for covering my shift!  Send me good energy!

#dreambig #Icreatemyreality #bookitwithbarrett

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March 25th, 2017 11:14 a.m.  (posted by Thierry at Exhaustive Talent) Congratulations to our client Adrian Overstim for booking a co-starring role on Big Network Series!  Go get ’em, Adrian!

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March 25th, 2017, 11:20 a.m. OMG YOU GUYS!  Five years ago I was just a graduate of Overpriced University Theatre Department with a BFA, a dream, and suffocating student loan debt!  Today I signed a contract to CO-STAR in Big Network Series, where I have a scene with one of my heroes, Well-Known Actor! If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere! 

#actor #acting #workingactor #nycactor #neverstopbelieving #killingit

#actinglife #professionalactor #act #gratitude #bignetwork

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March 25th, 2017, 12:27 p.m. (Image of word collage in various fonts containing variations on the themes of success and empowerment.)

#slayallday

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March 25th, 5:41 p.m.  (Video from The Dodo of raccoons stealing wading pool from surburban backyard.)

#lil’bandits #Iheartraccoons

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March 25th, 8:59 p.m. You guys, I still can’t believe it! (Image of unattributed quotation re: power of dreams superimposed over photo of child in meadow blowing dandelion.)  

#dreambig #bignetworkseries #gratitude

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March 28th, 11:41 a.mAdrian Overstim at Big Network Studios is getting fitted for a co-starring role in Big Network Series! Check it out Diane Overstim: I turned out to be a lawyer, after all! (smiley face emoji with tongue out) 

#assistantDA #enjoythejourney #actinglife #BigNetwork

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April 1st, 6:00 a.m.   Um, guys, this is my trailer on the set of Big Network Series!  Am I dreaming?  Someone pinch me! (Selfie of Adrian in front of trailer with arms outstretched making open-mouth mock-shock face.) 

#aprilnofools #bignetworkseries #onset #workingactor #gratitude

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April 1st, 8:23 a.m. Shout out to Jason at Big Network Series Craft Services! The omelette bar here is on fleek! On my third cronut and it’s not even 8:30!  They’re going to have to let out my costume! (Selfie in front of buffet table next to patient-looking young man in apron.)

#craftybelly #bignetworkseries #cronuts

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April 1st, 12:45 p.m. Catching up on Netflix in my trailer (!) waiting to shoot my scene for Big Network Series!  Anyone else totally confused by Better Call Saul?  So the one dude is, like, allergic to batteries?

#wtf #setproblems

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April 1st, 7:23 p.m. Just wrapped my scene with Well-Known Actor!  So incredibly blessed to work with one of the most respected actors in the business!  (Selfie with Well-Known Actor, smiling politely with arm around Adrian.) 

#dreamscometrue #acting #actorlife #workingactor #bignetworkseries #gratitude #gratefulness #blessedforsuccess #gratefulactor #dontstopbelieving #createyourreality #bignetwork #costar #cronuts

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Etc., etc. Posting will continue in this vein until episode airs.

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Unfortunately, over-posting on social media before and after booking a job is all too common.  It’s an understandable result of the euphoria an actor feels when they actually get a chance to work.  If only there were some guidelines to help the actor navigate this fraught situation with a bit more circumspection and dignity...

…well, now there are!

An Actor’s Guidelines for Social Media Etiquette and Self-Care

(Note: these guidelines are not for those for whom social media itself is a barometer of career success.  If your goal is to advance your career by increasing your Instagram followers, go for it.  This advice is for dedicated actors who are using social media to connect with their community and who want to approach that connection from a place of integrity.)

Here are some times when it is probably appropriate to update your social media platforms about a job:

•    When you audition for it.*
•    When you book it.
•    When you don't book it.
•    When it airs, premieres, or opens.
•    When you win an award for it.
•    When you lose an award for it.
•    When you undergo a physical calamity during the process.
•    When you are all but certain that demonic possession is occurring on-set and you need to crowd-source a good exorcist.
•    When it closes or wraps.

Here are some times when it might not be appropriate to update your social media platforms about a job:

•    When you audition for it.*
•    When you are called back for it.
•    When you go to producers for it.
•    When you are on hold for it.
•    The first day of rehearsal.
•    The first day of shooting.
•    The day you do a scene/share an elevator/perform the Heimlich maneuver on/otherwise encounter someone famous and take a selfie.
•    Previews.
•    Any random day in the process that you're just feeling grateful.
•    The day you have an epiphany about how booking this role is part of your cosmic life path or similar.

*NB: Update social media about auditions at your own discretion.  If it’s truly a point of pride for you to have gotten that particular opportunity, by all means, share it.  Realize, though, that you have now created a shockingly large audience of people who could potentially ask you the Dreaded Question. (“Did you hear anything about the audition?”)

Have you been guilty of updating social media inappropriately?  Don't feel bad.  This is still a new medium, and it takes awhile to figure out where the line is between celebrating your career milestones and making other people want to sit in a dark closet and examine their life choices.  This is fraught territory.  Are these rules hard and fast?  Of course not—it’s all about proportion. If you shoot a scene with your favorite actor and nail it, by all means, post about it—celebrate it!  You deserve to!  But remember: there is a limit to how much celebrating your actor friends can stand.  Calibrate.  If you’ve already posted about the trailer and the omelette bar, you’ve exhausted your audience before you get to the moment that matters.

Resist the urge to update the world on every step in your process.  You run a very real risk of teaching yourself that your accomplishments don't exist unless they're witnessed. You create a situation in which you’re seeking outside approval (likes or comments) to validate your lived experience as an artist.  Don’t you have enough of that in your life already? Also, you annoy your friends (like me) who are actor-adjacent and concerned for actors' psychic well-being, and you may actually hurt your friends who are actors—not because they're petty, but because the brain is wired for social comparison and they cannot help but view your success as a referendum on their own career, even though doing so makes them feel ashamed (or bitter, or panicked).

Of course this doesn’t mean that you can’t share your hard-earned good fortune with your community, or that people won’t be glad for you: they will, but they can only sustain it for so long before they start hoping—just a little—that a piano falls on you.  And you can only share so much before you forget that this is your artistic work: not only do you not need anyone to experience it vicariously through you, no one actually can. That is why it is valuable.  Just exercise some restraint.  Here are some suggestions for calibrating your social media posting about your acting life:

1.     If you’ve already posted once about the job, ask yourself WHY you’re posting about it again.  Get quiet and curious, and see what arises.  Try asking, “If I don’t post this, ______________.” and fill in the blank.  If the answer is remotely fear-based, don’t post.

2.     Wait.  Wait an hour.  Read a book (not a script). Cook something. Brush your cat. Don’t look at anything on a screen.  Don’t read anything online about acting or the Industry.  Then check back in and see if the urge to post has passed.

3.     If you feel like you want to express gratitude for the experience, try keeping a gratitude journal or practicing lovingkindness meditationStudies show that gratitude journaling can be a significant contributor to personal happiness.  Anecdotal evidence, however, indicates that expressing gratitude on social media does not have the same effect.

4.     Curate your audience.  If you really want to post every moment of the process, limit the audience to those who will honestly care and feel unalloyed pleasure for you.

(Certainly, if you book a long-running show and it becomes your day job, you’re going to post about it frequently.  I’m talking here about posting about auditions and short-term work. )

Finally, a note for those who find themselves annoyed by their own Adrian Overstims (and ashamed at being annoyed): UNFOLLOW.  If someone appears to have the life you want at the moment, or just booked a job or landed an agent you would have killed to get, don’t be a hero and pretend it doesn’t bother you. You can’t help feeling envious, and again, it’s not your fault.  Stop torturing yourself: unfollow. It’s only temporary, and it’s not petty: it’s self-caring and self-compassionate, and you need to practice these skills.  When you get that next boost and feel optimistic and confident again, you can re-follow.  Adrian will never know, and it may save you from an extended and emotionally expensive stay at Camp How-Kum-Not-Mee, where none of the canoes have paddles, and the bats and spiders judge you.

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Molly Goforth is a positive psychology and spiritual wellness practitioner for actors and other artists.  For more information visit https://www.anactorrepairs.com/workshops  Insta: AnActorRepairs

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