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.
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