It seems apt, as I write my first online column for The Stage, that I reveal a bit about how social media marketing has changed the face of what I do as an agent for actors & creatives, on a daily basis.
When I founded Cole Kitchenn Personal Management in 2005 – barely any London agent had a website other than us – but certainly none were on Twitter – it didn’t exist until 2006.
At first, I wasn’t sure if it was really worth it, with only a few hundred ‘likes’ or ‘followers’. But over the years, as our clients became higher profile and our own online audience increased to thousands, I started to think about the power of the two platforms to promote our clients. Last week, our Facebook page activity popped up on 340,350 news feeds. Some of them were industry professionals who often reference my recent tweets – so we’re reaching exactly the audience we want them to.
You only have to look at this year’s Guardian Media 100 to see that topping the list this year is Larry Page of Google, with Dick Costolo of Twitter close second, to understand the growing importance of new media, with the new BBC director general at number 4.
We represent some of the most followed artists on Twitter for their acting and I can tell you that their social media stats have a direct impact on their financial income from branding/endorsements.
But what does all this really mean for the client? Well routinely, when suggesting clients for projects, the subject of their ‘number of followers’ has started to come up in conversation. I know that a prominent theatre owner/producer uses the number of Google results to quickly measure someone’s real reach with the public when considering them for West End play castings, and at West End musical auditions casting directors will often inform the panel of Twitter stats of the auditionee about to enter.
Before her current exposure on Strictly Come Dancing, it was very hard sometimes to explain to adults over a certain age how massively famous Dani Harmer is to children and young adults that have grown up with Tracey Beaker and Dani’s House – that was until I pointed them towards her Twitter page displaying 48,000 followers.
We represent some of the most followed artists on Twitter for their acting (Tulisa has the most with 2.3 million followers) and I can tell you that their social media stats have a direct impact on their financial income from branding/endorsements. But as the number of followers becomes increasingly important, so the perils of social networking can become more serious.
Recently, our client Jennifer Ellison, who is currently touring in Legally Blonde, had her officially verified Twitter account (with 100,000 followers) hacked, and her password changed so she couldn’t access her own genuine account. We contacted Twitter, and at first they said they could not reset the password, as she couldn’t prove that the account had been compromised. Only through a personal contact in Twitter’s UK office did we manage to twist their arm, and luckily Jen retained her vast follower numbers.
My message really is, if you are an actor or creative in our industry – I recommend you should take these mediums seriously and start building your audience, with regular tweeting, commenting on trending topics, following similar people, and encouraging retweets! It’s a way to publicise, promote and find talent both on the client list or even for within our office: I found the latest member of our team, agent Alex Segal, through Twitter. I noticed how busy he was every night of the week at various events: opening nights, screenings, film festivals etc. His Twitter feed proved his considerable energy and commitment to agenting. I was so impressed I hired him! #Supertwitterfacebookyoutubexpialidocious