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4 Tech Skills Every Actor Needs

Kiev, Ukraine - October 17, 2012 - A logotype collection of well-known social media brand's printed on paper. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Myspace, Tumblr, Livejournal, Foursquare and more other logos.

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By Marci Liroff

I’m shocked that many people still don’t know how to use some of the most basic online platforms. Here’s a handy guide to make sure you’re up to speed on some of the essential sites with which you need to be familiar.

Skype
Know how to use it before your coaching or audition session. I’ve had too many coaching sessions recently during which the client is using Skype for the very first time and has no idea how to use it and the clock starts ticking down on our session because we’re spending most of it simply trying to connect. Bad enough to do this in a private coaching session with me, but so much worse during a Skype appointment with a director! The other day, I had a client try to connect with my personal account on Facebook because she insisted that we needed to be connected there in order to use FaceTime. It took me several emails to explain that these are two completely different platforms.

Use your time wisely beforehand to figure out how Skype works. Test your sound. Test your Internet connection to make sure our video call will be smooth and not freeze every few seconds. Sometimes I find that FaceTime works better than Skype. It all depends on where I’m doing the session and my Internet speed.

PayPal
I use PayPal daily to get paid for my private coaching and classes. It’s a seamless, user-friendly website and app. I’m still surprised when people don’t know how to use it and I have to spend my time sending emails explaining how to sign up, connect your bank account and credit card, and send a payment. Did you know if you choose “friends and family” (in the U.S.) the vendor (me) won’t be charged a service fee? I explain this in detail in all my payment instructions and people still don’t get it.

Again, figure out how this website works in advance so that you won’t be stressing out about making a time-sensitive payment.

Self-taping
We’ve talked a lot about this subject, but you need to understand exactly how to make a great self-taped audition. These days, we’re casting from locations all over the globe and we want to include actors not in Hollywood. We depend on your self-taped auditions. A very simple and clear-taped audition is all we need. Lately I’ve been seeing several self-taped auditions that are more like short films (exterior locations, supporting actors, musical soundtrack), but those additional elements just distract from what we need to see—you interacting with an offscreen scene partner. For your self-taped audition, I don’t need to see what kind of filmmaker you are. Please reacquaint yourself with my blog “How to Self-Tape Your Audition Like a Rock Star” for specific details.

Video upload sites
Learn how to post and password-protect your videos on a site like Vimeo so that you aren’t sending giant files over email that I then have to spend time downloading. Since you don’t own the intellectual property (the material you’re using for your auditions), make sure you’re not posting to YouTube for all to see. I’ve had producers get very pissed off at me when they see our auditions on YouTube that leaked scenes of our script.

I’m sure by the time you read this there will be several more technologies, online platforms, and apps you’ll need to learn. In the meantime, there are plenty of online support videos that explain in detail how to sign up for these various sites and apps. Make sure you do the research now so you’re ready when the opportunity arises.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

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(Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions.  Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

 

10 Things Guaranteed To Get You Unfollowed On Twitter

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By Marci Liroff

I’ve been on Twitter since 2009 and I’ve come to think of it as my good friend. I hate it when people don’t treat my friend right. I’m so happy that there are many new people coming over to Twitter and jumping on the Social Media bandwagon.

BUT, I’ve been noticing some bad behavior that I’m sure stems from most folks just not knowing how it all works. As as social media consultant, I’m noticing that there are so many rules to proper twitter behavior and etiquette – some written and some not so black and white.

Use this guide to help you navigate the often shark-infested waters and avoid these mistakes!

1. Not using my name when you tweet about me

One of the most basic tenets of Twitter is to give credit where credit is due. If you’re talking about someone on Twitter, take an extra moment to find out if they’re on Twitter and use their Twitter name. I cannot stress this enough. This promotes connectivity amongst all of us. This way, if your followers like what you’re saying about the person they can easily follow them by clicking on their Twitter name within your tweet.

2. Clogging my newsfeed with your TWITTER HOUSEKEEPING

The term “Twitter Housekeeping” is probably one I made up. Here’s what it means. When people re-tweet your tweets or mention you in a tweet, proper twitter etiquette dictates that you respond with a “thank you” or a “thanks for sharing/RT”. HOWEVER, and this is a big however….please do not clog my newsfeed with your twitter housekeeping. The correct way to do it is this. Click on “reply” and reply directly to the person like this:

@JoeTwitter thanks for sharing!

Do NOT do this:

Thanks for sharing @JoeTwitter RT @KimTwitter blah blah blah http://blahblah.com

If you do this, then you are clogging my newsfeed with all your responses which should only be seen by the person you’re responding to. This is actually re-tweeting YOUR tweet under the guise of a “thank you”. Not good form and very annoying.

Here’s another example of Twitter Housekeeping that will get you unfollowed:

“@JoeTwitter: I finally caved in and joined twitter world!!” it’s about friggin time. So happy!

The Twitter user uses the “ symbol to RT her friend’s tweet first, then put her comment at the end. Now, why do I need to read this? She should just click on “reply” and reply back to her friend who is now on Twitter and tell her how happy she is. Why is she tweeting this out to all her followers to read?

3. Using twitter like it’s your own personal iChat or email service for all to see

If you’re using Twitter to pick a place for dinner with your friend or give directions to an event and I’m following both of you – do you know I can see all your tweets? Perhaps email or text is a better forum!

4. Still having an egg on your profile and no bio

C’mon, it’s not so hard. Upload a real photo of you for your avatar and write a short bio and include a link to your website if you have one. If you don’t do this very basic thing, people will think you’re not legitimate and professional and will hesitate to follow.

5. Having a naked picture (or some form of nakedness) for your avatar

Need I say more? I’m gonna go one further. I’ll block you if you’re following me with that nastiness! Again, be professional in this professional space.

6. Check your spelling

Take a moment and check your tweet before you send it so that things are spelled correctly and your tweet makes sense. I know we all have to comply with the 140 characters on Twitter and abbreviate and lose some punctuation, but at least try to spell things right! Along those same lines, make sure your link actually works!

 7. #FF pile-ons

Follow Friday (#FF) started as a way to thank someone for something they may have done for you or to welcome them to Twitter and help them get new followers. It was meant to introduce people to your twitter followers by telling them who they are and why they are special to you.

A good example would be the one I received from the lovely Erin Cronican today.

#FF @MarciLiroff A fellow Expert writer for @BackStage who has poise, warmth & skill as a casting director & is an amazing Twitter partner.

Now that is a genuine #FF. It has meaning, it explains why her followers should follow me and gives context.

The kind of “pile-on” #FF I see nowadays looks something like this:

#FF @marciliroff @JoeBlow @KarenTwitter @JimTwitter

It doesn’t give any context or reason WHY we should follow these people. It also puts people in a giant group – which makes me feel a little less than special. Sometimes, I’m grouped with people that I don’t even like or respect.

8. Don’t connect your Facebook status updates to Twitter

Once you start using Social Media regularly you’ll see that the platform of Facebook is ENTIRELY different than Twitter. I liken it to using your “Facebook voice” and using your “Twitter voice”. On Facebook you can talk more extensively on a topic. Because of the 140 character format on Twitter, you have to be succinct and to the point. Comment + headline + link. Bam!

Some twitter apps allow you to connect your FB and Twitter accounts so that when you tweet or FB it goes to both accounts simultaneously. This is wrong on many levels.

Your followers (audience) on Twitter is not necessarily your audience (friends) on Facebook. Your tweet or status update is sometimes not pertinent or appropriate to both. At this point in the game (although it’s changing every day) your Facebook friends don’t want to see your updates in space-saving abbreviations and the use of hashtags. Likewise, when that Facebook tweet goes onto the Twitter newsfeed it usually doesn’t fit and isn’t a complete thought/tweet. For me it shows a person who doesn’t understand the social medium platform they’re using. Another huge problem which goes back to #1 on my list, is that when your accounts are connected and you update your status on Facebook you may mention a person’s name in your update, but when it shows up on Twitter it doesn’t correctly use the all important “@” sign to identify the Twitter name of the person you’re tweeting about. Again, very bad form.

9. Using an Auto-bot to send a DM asking for something

If you do anything on Twitter that appears to be an auto-bot (meaning an automatic response NOT from a human) I will unfollow immediately. Twitter is about communication from people, not auto-tweets. Some people think it’s a great idea once we both follow each other to send a DM (direct message) to me asking me to buy something or visit their site. No thank you – I will unfollow you.

10. Beware of scheduled tweets

I know it’s difficult to be on Twitter at all times of the day. Sometimes we need to schedule tweets (I use the Buffer App) BUT – I do this VERY sparingly and monitor it closely! Here’s a great example of why it can be dangerous to use scheduled tweets. Imagine a world event – an election, a verdict that just came in on an important case, natural disasters – then your tweet comes into my newsfeed and you’re hawking your wares “Hey y’all check out my new demo reel!” – don’t you look stupid and thoughtless? I have unfollowed major accounts for doing this.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this. What do people do that drive you crazy on Twitter? It’s always good to share with the community. Leave a comment, share this blog with a friend!

Glad you’re here!
Marci

WHY ACTORS NEED TO UNDERSTAND SOCIAL MEDIA

By Marci Liroff

I’ve been encouraging actors to get involved in social media for the last several years. Seems that they’ve been heeding my call! I’ve noticed droves of actors taking to Twitter lately. Some do it well, some—not so much.

While working on the feature film “Vampire Academy: BloodSisters,” based on the best-selling series of six young-adult paranormal romance novels, I noticed some really bad behavior by a few actors; they were tweeting about coming in for auditions, and how they did on said audition. One actor simply tweeted, “Christian Ozera” (the name of one of the very exciting male characters in the book series) and the Internet went wild with rumor mongering.
To put things into perspective, this book series has a HUGE fanbase. The Facebook fanpage for the movie—which hasn’t even been made yet!—has more than 250,000 fans.
I got an email from one of my producers who asked that all casting news come from the production and that what goes on behind the scenes (i.e. who’s auditioning) should be controlled by us. The producer added that any further “leaks” would compromise an actor’s potential for being hired.
The Facebook fanpage and Twitter blew up with speculation and thousands of fans were hysterically talking about whether the actor who tweeted about auditioning for Christian was going to get the part. I had to call his representatives and suggest that this was perhaps not the most professional approach to getting the role. I knew in my heart that he had tweeted this in an innocent way, not realizing what trouble would ensue from his simple tweet.
Another actor on Twitter and Facebook who wanted one of the lead roles so badly would fan the flames of speculation and neither deny or confirm that he was being offered the part. He even created a Facebook Fanpage for his mission.
Because IMDb is actually a fan site much like Wikipedia, anyone can enter information. We hope and depend that the site actually vets the information, but an actor who was “rumored” to be in the mix, who actually wasn’t, was listed as “rumored” to be playing the role. This added to even more confusion.
I’ve seen actors fired from commercials for tweeting things like, “Hey, I just booked a (fill-in-the-blank) commercial!” Same goes for television shows. The producers, networks, studios see this sort of thing as a leak of information.  This news should ONLY come from the production if and when they see fit and in the venue that they want it to come from. If after reading this you still feel compelled to share this kind of information, you should clear it with the producers first.

Kevin Brockman, Executive Vice President, Global Communications, Disney/ABC Television Group spoke to me about this topic. He said, “We are very actively involved in guiding our actors and productions in the social media space.  At ABC and ABC Family, after series are greenlit and before production begins, our social media and PR teams walk the actors and producers through a social media 101 that points out the potential positives and negatives in these arenas. Series spoilers are a large part of the discussion and our rule of thumb is, ask your executive producer or Publicity team before posting anything that may be a problem. Our actors, especially on our shows with mystery elements, like ‘Scandal’, ‘Pretty Little Liars’ and ‘Twisted,’ are very cognizant of this, as they don’t want to hurt the viewing experience for their fans.” 

Brockman added, “At Disney Channels Worldwide, we host Talent Orientation programs that provide new actors information on what to expect from their colleagues on the Production team and from their colleagues at Disney Channel, and what’s expected of them.  During the Orientation, we cover the subject of social media and reiterate to our actors and their parents that what they say and do on social media, or when communicating directly to their fans, should done with care.  We remind them to “think before they tweet or post” anything, and ask them to appreciate that millions of young fans may look up to them.”

I also spoke to Dan Berendsen, writer/producer/creator of ABC Family’s hit tv show “Baby Daddy”. He said, All five of my cast members have a significant internet presence (twitter, instagram) and are an integral part of the show’s marketing. They are the source of the show’s real social media. We acknowledge that and promote it – they are partners in the successful marketing of the show. Consequently, we talk about what information is best for them to give out and what’s not. To make it work, the actors have to be completely onboard with what you’re trying to accomplish.

Historically, “leaks” and “spoilers” are more likely to come from the studio audience and the extras. There is almost no way to shut that down on a show that’s filmed in front of a live audience – other than to ask people not to ruin the surprise for everyone else.”
 
Of course, I understand the feeling we all have these days to share news within our community of followers on Facebook and Twitter along with your website. I suggest you share it after the project is completed and only when it’s about to air. Another thing to do so that you feel connected is to say something benign like “Auditions went GREAT today! I was so prepared!” That way, nobody gets hurt! 
I’d love to hear your stories about your experiences with Social Media and your interactions. It’s always good to share with the community.
Glad you’re here!
 
Marci
 
 
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