Facebook: To the ordinary person, it is a social website that unites the world. The place to come vent, share your personal life’s experiences while you get the likes and comments that make you heal and uplift your spirits which seem to be down almost every time. And when you are in a good mood and say something funny, there is always that one friend who always has to come and comment being all serious and ruins the moment.
To most professionals however, it is the place to network; get to interact with other like minded individuals while discussing the latest trends and updating each other on current events in their respective fields. Most importantly, it is has grown to become the number one place to MARKET ones product.
Facebook provides a large pool of people globally to sell and market your product right in front of your computer. I cannot think of any business or person in this day and age who does not have a Facebook profile, page or group to not only interact but sell their product.
How does this relate to acting, well, the number one rule of professional acting we are always reminded of is to think of it as a business. In the business world, actors probably fall in the category of self-employment. Ask any business that has ever been successful and they will tell you that a business cannot survive or thrive without marketing and advertisement as it is from this that sales come from.
In the process of marketing yourself, you are creating an everlasting memorable brand. Take a second to think why many people choose Coca-cola and not 7-Up or Safaricom and not Airtel despite many claims that coke is bad for your health and Safaricom can at times be "not the best option".The answer lies in the power of MARKETING!
Marketing is however a broad tearm and I shall concentrate on the most important part of it, THE NAME you give your product. Let us cross over to the music world and think Nonini, Nameless, Jua Kali, Amani, Size-8, Octopizzo, Juliani etc names that these musicians have adopted and have stuck to as their stage and performance names. They have been identified by those names and it has become their brands and will forever be their brand for as long as they continue singing.
Acting is however a little different. Actors take on different characters and therefore it is dangerous for an actor to brand themselves with one stage name because tomorrow you might be required to do something different from Batman, James Bond, Papa Shirandula or Inspekta Mwala. It is okay if you are comfortable with that and will forever be working for that particular franchise but if you are a freelance actor, the best brand name to use is your real name!!
It is therefore absurd and unprofessional to come across an actors social media profile with some funny name. Does it really make you swaggerific or msupuu to include that in your Facebook name? Producers, directors, other actors, casting agents and your fans are all on Facebook and they need to identify you for who you really are and not a fake name that you use on Facebook.
Here is a scenario, if you have read this article, “how Facebook and twitter can help your acting career” followed its advice and are now friends with a couple producers, directors and other actors , you will at some point attend auditions or be in a meeting where these people are gathered. Let us talk about auditions to drive the point home. You have been calling yourself “Gera swageriffic don” on Facebook. At an audition, you will surely not introduce yourself with that name and will use your real name. In this case,Gerald Langiri. On the panel, is a director that I chatted up online sometime back and that producer that we have been having an educative talk in our inboxes. Chances are they never looked at my profile pictures to instantly remember who I am because I am those lazy actors who do not want to invest in my career and therefore, I also do not have a headshot that clearly identifies my unique features. In other words, on Facebook, no one actually takes me serious because I have a funny name that I cannot be identified with and makes me come across as a retard.
Here I am in front of these people who ideally should remember me but they do not because they do not know a Gerald Langiri and it will actually sound “retardish” if I introduce myself like “By da way, I go by da name Gera swageriffic don on Facebook. We are friends!!”
You need to remember the power of marketing and networking and when it comes to networking for you as an actor, your bosses are online unlike other professions where employees fear that their bosses might snoop on them and therefore use different names.
Your bosses being directors, producers, casting agents are all online and they should therefore know you by your real names and not the fake names you give yourselves. Furthermore, make it easier for them to find you by removing all those privacy polices you have. Take an example where I, as a tech savvy casting director would like to find you actor X and I cannot find you online on Facebook because you have the restriction to not be found by search using name or email. Or perhaps you do not have those restrictions but I still cannot find you because whilst I know I should search for Gerald Langiri, I cannot find him because he calls himself “Gera Swaggerific don”. Alternatively, create a public professional acting facebook page where you will be posting your acting updates and what you are upto and fill it with professional pictures.
Think of the Kenneth Ambanis, Lizz Njagahs and Oliver litondos of the acting industry. Why do you think they use their real names online? It is a brand. It is a small marketing gimmick for them to be identified for their real names. They could easily be Ken Ambz, Lizzy Jagz, P Mack and O.Litondz.
Yes, I challenge you to brand yourself. Whilst those calling themselves descriptive names like Nancy Bootylicious or Nikki Minaj Wairimu actually do have the booty that goes with it unlike the ones I see calling themselves Anne yule msupuu usually aren’t really that hot, leave the kinky names to the bedroom.
As an actor you are constantly working even while online. You are identifying yourself with the people, the same people who you will one day ask to watch your shows and what message are you passing across if you do not have a constant name to use and please do not get me started on the xaxa, xkul, xkia type of writing. Call me old school but replacing S with X does not make you cool, it only makes you sound like a retard.
Written ByGerald Langiri
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