Tuesday, August 12, 2014

DANCERS ON THE INTERNET, PART TWO: #HASHTAGS 101


The mighty mighty #hashtag


  In my last blog post, I mentioned using social media to network and promote your dance classes and events… and I gotta say that one of my very favorite tools for doing just that is the hashtag.

 Most people know what a hashtag is; it’s that “number sign”, the tic-tac-toe symbol hat looks like this: #

 But even though most of us are familiar with hashtags, many of us don’t know how to use them at all, let alone use them to their fullest advantage!

I worship at the altar of hashtags- and after you find out how to use them, you probably will, too!

 Last year at the annual Raven’s Night belly dance event in Washington, DC as many of us were sitting around talking shop into the wee hours, I was asked to give an explanation on hashtag use.  Though it was extremely informal (and just a little tinged with the wine we were drinking!)  Illuminated the idea of how hashtags, function. After that, many of us jokingly started saying the word  “hashtag” in our speech, in front of the words that would be hashtagged if they were being typed on a social media site! It turned into such an in-joke that weekend that a group of us who were already actually got small sized hashtag symbols tattooed on our bodies!

  So, this is the way hashtags work:  if you type the hashtag symbol (#) in front of a word on social media sites, the hashtag and the word will turn blue, indicating that whatever word you type  (such as #dancer) will turn into a searchable term.  That means anyone who is hunting for the word “dancer” will be directed to your post!

  Now, let’s look at hashtag use in terms of promotion. 

 When posting an event flyer or photo on a social media site, many people just leave it at that, using the image only.  Their online “friends” will see the image, and can “like” it.   That right there is good…but it could be better.

 If you use hashtags correctly, everyone   who is interested in whatever you #hashtag will see it!   I’m gonna use one of my own online flyers here as an example.

Post the image, and then type the information in your post to go along with it, like this:

 
Photo & Graphic: Maharet Hughes


TIARA TUESDAYS:  #PRINCESSFARHANA  ’S #BELLYDANCE #SHOWCASE
August 26, 2014 Special Guests  #Jenna  & #Stephanya  #tarotcardreadings by Natalie
#MOUNOFTUNIS
7445 ½ SUNSET
LA CA 90046
 Dinner: 7pm   show: 8pm 
North African Feast $17.50 per person
Reservations a Must!  (323) 874-3333
#Orientaldance #rakssharqi #tribalfusion #cabaret  #LA #Hollywood #entertainment #girlsnightout #danceperformance

Promotion-wise, adding all the info clearly typed is a good idea anyway. But I’ve also hashtagged pretty much anything that could pertain to my event as well, including really obvious things like cities, neighborhoods, the names of the special guests ( so anyone who is a student or fan can see them) as well as specific types of dance or things that people might be looking for if they want a night out in #losangeles! 

 There is so much information on this specific “post” that it would only fly on Facebook.  It would be way too long for Twitter, which only allows 140 characters per post, so in that case, I would just use #bellydance, not the whole shebang!

  If I wanted to post this on  #Twitter, I would click on the image on #Facebook  (  aka #FB) which will then come up with all the information I have typed in to go along with it, copy the URL, and paste it into my  Twitter post, adding something short  like: 

 “ Come to my #bellydance show 8/26 in #LA ".

If you are  posting on #instagram ( also known as #IG)  you have a lot more space  for text and can use #unlimited #hashtags

 Got it?

#Hashtags are a #huge part of  #socialmedia , and also a really #important #promotionaltool too!   
Once you’ve mastered the concept, you can even have #fun with them… like this:

#learnsomethingneweveryday
 #ihearthashtags
 #hashtagabuse






Wednesday, July 30, 2014

FOUR MISTAKES DANCERS MAKE ON THE INTERNET





Often, there is so much administrative work that needs to be done to keep up a healthy dance career that I find myself thinking,

“ Shouldn’t I be dancing instead of sitting at a my computer?”

In a perfect world, the answer would be a big, resounding yes. But in the real world, most dancers are the stewards of their own career.

We’re our own booking agents,  public relations  staff, travel agents, and interns. Most of us  don’t have “management” to rely on,  we’re  our own bosses…and that means we also wind up doing all of the work!  For many dancers, this part of their career is something they don’t bargain for when they were dreaming of dancing professionally. But  doing  this  often tedious work  is really what enables us to be successful at what we really want to do, which is dance!

  Lately, I’ve been getting  a lot of emails  from dancers approaching me with marketing and promotion questions.  I decided to do a series on this blog answering  some of the most frequently-asked questions  I receive, so here’s  Part One:  Four Mistakes  Dancers Make  On The Internet.



1)  YOU DON’T HAVE A WEBSITE

 I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you need a professional website.

 It’s important for many reasons- it allows people to see what you look like, read your bio, access dates you’ll be performing and classes or workshops that you’re teaching, buy your products and services, and to get a feel for what you do.  The people who visit your site will be able to “see” you, to contact you, and to take you seriously, realizing that you truly are an artist and businessperson, not just a dabbler. It doesn’t need to have all the latest bells and whistles, but it does need to impart the who, what, where and why of your dance career.

“But I have a Facebook page!”  I can hear you cry, “Isn’t that good enough?” No, it’s not.  Not if you’re serious about your career.

Ok, a Facebook page is better  than nothing,  but  you  still need a website!  Your website and your Facebook page should be linked.  If  for some insane reason  you  don’t have a Facebook account, this brings us to:

2)  YOU DON’T HAVE A PRESENCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is awesome in general, but it’s especially great for connecting with your fans, students, potential students and/or sponsors or for selling costumes, engaging in spirited discussions, shop talk and conversations about dance history, and for joining groups that will inform you about your area of interest.  These interactions are so important for our careers!

If you aren’t  actively involved in social  media, you’re doing your dance career a  serious disservice.

Social medial equals free marketing!

  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram  really are where it’s happening, they’re terrific  promotional tools which  can  link you to others who share your interests. I know it sounds trite, but it’s true.  If you don’t have accounts on these top sites,  take the time to set one up and learn how to use them. They’re fun, yes, but they’re also extremely important  to you as a professional.   Students, fans, show producers, casting directors and potential  clients  for private parties look for  dancers on social media all the time. You can get hired, get professional  advice, learn about auditions, acquire students ,new fans and buy costumes via social media.

If you’ve been holding off on this, now’s the time to explore it…which brings us to:


3) NOT USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

Many dancers literally shoot themselves in the foot while using social media.

One common mistake is to set up a page on  (any) social media site, and then let it die a long, slow death by not doing anything with it.  Ok, so you set up a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page…and   you can’t see the big deal about it.  You’re not so happy with it because you have like, four followers…. and you’d much rather be playing Candy Crush Saga or Bubble Witch or whatever the hell is the new addictive time-waster.  Right?  You can’t see what’s so great about having a dance-oriented professional page, cause nothing is happening.

 But did you think  to yourself  “If I Build It They Will Come?”

Nice fantasy, but that isn’t how it works! If you’re using social media for marketing, you need to put the necessary time into your page, or…pun intended…it’s gonna go belly up really quickly.

 “But I don’t have the time!”

This is a common complaint many dancers have.

 Make the time- remember,  social medial equals free marketing!

  Do some posts and interactions with your morning coffee…  you can even set an alarm  so you don’t go over ten or fifteen  minutes and get sucked into a rabbit hole. “Like” a few pages or make some comments while you’re waiting for dance  class to start… log on from the dentist’s office, while the baby’s asleep, at a dog park, a show, the airport or in line at the grocery store …where, I daresay, you’re  probably already shimmying up a storm, practicing as your groceries are being bagged!

 In order to get an audience, you have to engage an audience. Like courtship, you have to woo people to your page.  Invite people to your page(s) and make sure there is something interesting and fun for them to enjoy…so they will be sure to check back for more updates. 

 Don’t blast out event  promotions non-stop, it will be off-putting to your followers…though you do need to be consistent with announcing a gig or a class, cause posting one time isn’t going to cut the mustard.  People visit many different pages, and their newsfeed is getting updated by the second  by all of their friends, as well as all the pages they like. 

That means your  event post will come and go in the blink of an eye, so you definitely have to post multiple times. Just don’t over-do it, and please, for the love of god, don’t tag people  who wouldn’t be interested, or whom you know won’t be able to come to your show.  Inviting people from other states or countries  won’t help your event- cause they will not be able to attend and will just get annoyed cause you’re being spammy.

  Engage with  others by  “liking” and commenting on their status posts, be personal and personable!  Make sure your social media interactions find a balance between the fun stuff and hard-core promo or people will start tuning out.  Lots of pictures are always good,  in fact,  sometimes I’m kinda shocked by how few dancers post   pictures…cause they’re pretty much like digital calling cards! If you look sparkly and appealing, others will react favorably. The phrase “Every Picture Tells A Story” comes to mind.


3) OVER-SHARING ON SOCIAL MEDIA
  Ok, so I’ve just told you to  post a lot of stuff…pictures, event announcements, videos, etc.   But if you have a  fan page or group set up just for   your dancing, please keep it “on topic”.    A really common  mistake- and one that  makes many  people actually  feel  embarrassed for you- is to “overshare”  or post TMI , the abbreviation for  “too much information”.

 If you’re running a dance oriented page, people don’t need  ( or want!) to know that you’re having your period,  fighting with your significant other,  having a rough day emotionally, fell  off the wagon, or that a relative died…or you  broke a nail.

  Your professional page should reflect your professional dance career.

  It isn’t a tell-all site, or a place to get virtual hugs.  Use your personal page for that kind of post…if, indeed you really and truly want to post all your dirty laundry on the internet.

  Presumably the reason you made a dance page  on any social media site  is because you  are in the midst of having a dance career.  It’s doubtful that you would walk into your day job and complain about any of this stuff, right?  If you want your dancing to be your day job, then you need to behave professionally when you’re online.

 There are a few exceptions  to this rule. For example, if something went horrendously wrong at a gig, but it turned out to be a funny story- something that many dancers can relate to- then go ahead and post away! Similarly, if your addiction is glitter, buying or making costumes, or   something like that- as opposed to  some sort of  illegal controlled substance- go ahead and post  about it…cause everyone will relate to it!  And if   something terrible happened, like your sprained your ankle and need to cancel  some gigs, go ahead and post  that.  It will be a way of letting everyone know  (all at once)  why you aren’t showing up for a show or shows. And in a tough situation like this, which again,  every dancer can relate to it, you will probably  be pleasantly surprised at how supportive and generous  the dance community can be!

#


Watch for Part Two in this series, which will  help you find your way in navigating social media sites  to their greatest advantage.



  Purchase an autographed copy of The Belly Dance Handbook: A Companion For The Serious Dancer  here:



Monday, July 21, 2014

The ROYAL PALACE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, SUMMER 2014

 
Dancing   to Issam's drum solo at The Baladi Tour CD Release Party, Studio Iqaat, LA  Photo: Maharet Hughes


  Hope you’re having a terrific summer!
  Mine has been jam-packed with lots of fun stuff and new projects…   seriously, I feel so blessed to be able to have my job be something I love to do!

I’ve been working on follow-ups to The Belly Dance Handbook, and Showgirl Confidential, which wills both, be out sometime in the middle of 2015.  And there is talk of a new instructional DVD- keep your fingers crossed, you’re gonna love this one!

 This summer has been non-stop dancing and touring to teach and perform by myself as well as with Issam Houshan on our BaLAdi Tour. We’ve hit Eugene, Oregon, Wichita, Kansas and El Paso Texas, and we’ll be teaching an performing a lot together next year, nationally and internationally. Like The Baladi Tour on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PrincessAndIssam?ref=br_tf

Baladi Tour Party Performers, photo: Maharet Hughes


 Our new Baladi Tour CD just came out; the release party was off the hook! Some of the best dancers in LA performed, many of who are internationally known, like Rania, Aubre Hill and Stefanya (all former members of Belly Dance Superstars) DeVilla and Nathalie, Olu, Adrianne and Qabila Folkloric Dance Company, directed by Aubre.

  If you missed it, the party streamed live and will be up on the internet for the next two days at www.justin.tv/iqaat Get the CD here: http://www.princessfarhana.com/shop.htm


 In between workshops in Oklahoma, The Theatrical Belly Dance Conference in New York City and Cairo Shimmy Quake in LA, (both festivals were amazing!)  I shot a movie last month with director Steve Balderson; called “Hell Town”…it’s a horror movie about a faux soap opera, and very tacky-on-purpose.  I play a very naughty and murderous nurse in the film…and I got to have blonde hair!  I also got to watch myself get killed in the movie-   cause I died off-screen. That was an experience, I tell you!



Photo: Maharet Hughes



 As of right now, I have space for two dancers in my  Star (Em)Power  Professional Development  And Mentorship Program.
  This   highly individualized course of study  will be fine-tuned to your individual needs and  help you  make your dance goals and dreams turn into reality.  It  can be accessed  from all over the world, we’ll work on your goals through live Skype lessons and discussions,  video reviews, and a plan of action, with  homework  assigned via email. Candidates are generally advanced intermediate through professional level dancers.
There is an audition process-  for more information on this opportunity, please click here:





  Here are some up coming dates for the rest of the summer, hope to see you someplace soon!

    AUG 1-3, 2014 MEMPHIS, TENNSSEE
  Show at The Rumba Room with Amani Jabril, me and live Arabic with Jonatan Gomes Derbaq & friends music plus local dancers!  Friday Aug 1, 303 S. Main Street, Memphis info:
 Workshops in Memphis Aug. 2-3
Info & registration: http://am7207.wix.com/raqmemphis



AUG 8- 10, 2014 ATLANTA, GEORGIA
 Book reading & signing party for:
“SHOWGIRL CONFIDENTIAL” & THE BELLY DANCE HANDBOOK
Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance 500 Bishop Street North Suite F-6 Atlanta, 30318
 21 or older, wine will be served with price of admission $7
Info:  amani@amanijabril.com or 404-550-4692

 AUG. 9 & 10 Atlanta, GA
 Summer Extravaganza!
 Belly dance & burlesque workshops all day and into the night at Atlanta School of Burlesque, 1745 DeFoor Place, Suit D Atlanta…. There will be a show on Sunday Aug. 10th, too, where I’ll be performing both styles!  Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/215640701978723/    


AUG 16 & 17, 2014, BILLINGS, MONTANA
  Yellowstone Valley Belly Dance Festival

AUG. 24, 2014, SUNNYVALE, CA  (SF Bay Area)
Assuit Fest:  workshops & book release party for Dawn Devine’s new book on Assuit, “The Cloth Of Egypt” info:



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 Get a signed copy of The Belly Dance Handbook  here: