GUEST BLOG: How to & Why You Should Embrace Social Media by Ryan Ratelle

Reality Check:

Despite being bullied at school, 12-year-old Thai drag sensation Nes (@nes_tyyy) displays incredible confidence for all the world to see on Instagram. The digital child star has been so successful, that he was able to build a new home for his family.

The older sister of adorable 2-year-old twins Mila and Emma Stauffer (@kcstauffer) taped an everyday conversation between the twosome and posted it to Instagram. 4.4M views later, the tots have struck lucrative advertising deals with Amazon, Dollar Rental Car, Nest, Walmart, and Macy’s to name a few.

Katie Ryan (@katieryan430) began sharing videos of her daughter Ava – famous for the ever-disgruntled “Bossy Boss Lady” and “hot mess” Charlene characters – to help cheer up her grieving family after her sister passed away at the age of 23. With the ad revenue from YouTube alone, Katie is now able to be a stay-at-home mother.

Like it or not, the advent of smartphones coupled with the unstoppable rise of social media has literally put the power of the people into the palm of our hands. This new form of media has given birth to billions of new user-created television networks, editorials, and music labels – all accessible (and scrollable) in tiny hand-held devices. Every minute of the day, people play multiple roles as creators, critics, commentators, gurus, and advocates. It’s a game-changing force that has radically altered the way we receive and share information, advertise, and interact.

According to a recent study 92% of consumers “trust an influencer more than an advertisement” and 60% of consumers “make purchases in stores based on a social media post.” This is the exact data that led my partners, Sam Ratelle (my RRR Creative co-founder) and Frank Spadafora (D’Marie Group), and I to create The Cast Agency, the first dedicated digital agency representing Broadway stars. The Cast brokers partnerships between top brands and Broadway’s biggest influencers for sponsored social campaigns, online advertising, and digital content creation.

On Broadway, skillfully executed social campaigns have helped secure hit status for new musicals, extended the life of others, and in the case of the highly anticipated Be More Chill, responsible for making a Broadway run happen at all. In this new age of celebrity obsession, social media is also becoming a serious conversation in the casting room. At RRR Creative (Triple R) and The Cast, most of our clients have recounted stories of when their social following has come up in conversation with agents, casting directors, and even producers. In some cases, it has even won or lost them the job. While we firmly believe that talent should always be the biggest determining factor in casting, social media definitely has influence. It just makes sense that a producer, who needs to fill 1,500+ seats nightly to keep a show afloat, would offer a role to the performer who has more buzz and a bigger following.

Social Media isn’t going anywhere, so embrace it and use it to your advantage. Here are a few tips we offer to our clients:

Reframe the Way You Think About Social Media

So many of our clients come to us loathing social media and looking at it as a “necessary evil.” We all know the pitfalls of social and we’ve all seen the YouTube videos of people walking into things because they failed to look up (I totally took 15 minutes out of writing this blog to revisit my favorite YouTube vids of this very phenomenon – genius), but let’s focus on the positives:

  1. It can be a great networking tool, so link in already!
  2. It’s free publicity that you can control.
  3. It can help you fundraise for that web series or album you’ve always wanted to produce.
  4. Instagram is fun, people! It’s your own personal magazine.
  5. If you build a significant following, you can get free stuff and eventually cash!
  6. It’s one of the fastest and most effective ways to mobilize people to your 54 Below show or to help you WIN BACK THE HOUSE (Go Blue!).

Be Social on Social Media

It’s become so routine to mindlessly scroll through content. If you want to grow an engaged audience, you have to engage with them. Like! Comment! Share!

Be Authentic

We can smell bologna from a mile away. If it doesn’t feel right, we will sense that and then you’ve lost us. People want to get to know the real “off-stage” you.

Understand Your Analytics

Just like Mr. Rogers said, know your audience because it is unlike anyone else’s. Look at what content they are engaging with, when they are engaging with it, and what else they generally like and don’t like about your account (I know…take a breath), and then use that information as a guide moving forward.

Consistency is Key

Most people post sporadically. If you are not consistently posting content your audience can’t invest in you in the same way. Make it easy on yourself and spend an hour or two once a week with your calendar and plan your posts for the upcoming week or month based on what you have going on already.

Pay Attention to Aesthetics

Try not to focus solely on the individual photographs but rather how each image will look as a part of the overall grid. All of your images should relate to each other in some way. Consider a color scheme or color palette to ensure that the grid looks cohesive and curated.

Edit Your Images

Never post an image or video that isn’t of the highest quality and resolution. While iPhones take really great photos, every image can benefit from some editing, even if it’s just adjusting the light. On the flip side, be careful not to go too far with editing those selfies!

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Ryan is a publicist, producer and the Co-Founder of RRR Creative and The Cast Agency. He spent the past thirteen years as a theatrical publicist, most recently at DKC/O&M. During this time, he helmed award-winning campaigns for Broadway productions including Patti LuPone’s Gypsy, SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark, Clybourne Park, After Midnight, School of Rock, CATS, Sunset Boulevard starring Glen Close and Michael Moore: The Terms of My Surrender. He also served as the U.S. press representative for legendary composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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