Whether you’re an aspiring dancer, consistently working in the industry or a dance educator you are a brand. I hated the term “brand” when I first heard it and to be honest sometimes the word still makes my skin crawl.
But you are one and there’s no getting around that. You are consistently representing your own personal brand. That includes when you are on social media and networking sites.
Here’s a better way of thinking about it – how would you want to present yourself in an audition? Would you walk into the audition looking like a slob? Or would you want to be that chatty dancer in the corner or that girl or guy who asks the same question the choreographer just answered? Of course not. Yes, you are an artist first and talent is what makes or breaks your career but you can get typecast in social media just like you can in an audition.
What I am suggesting is that you be thoughtful when you enter the social media scene and present yourself in the best light.
Take Those Earbuds Out and Start Listening
Approach social media like you would any other skill; watch, look and listen first. The temptation is to jump into whatever social media platform and start talking. Would you ever attempt a triple pirouette without learning the basics of a single? Not if you don’t want to injure yourself. Start small and listening is the first step.
Note to those dancers who are busy yapping – please stop spelling “dance” with a “z”. It’s not cool and it never will be.
Simple and FREE Monitoring Tools
1) Google Alerts: Google alerts is a great tool to figure out what others are saying about you, your competitors and the entire dance industry. It is one of the easiest tools out there to use. After you sign-up, all you have to do is enter search terms like your name, your studio’s or competitor’s name, or topics you would like to learn more about (dance education, hip hop, the dougie, etc.).
I suggest you set up separate alerts for each search term or related search terms. These alerts will be sent directly to your e-mail address. I also suggest that you change the setting so that you don’t get an e-mail alert in real-time unless you are dealing with an imminent issue. Choosing once a day or week is usually more manageable and certainly less annoying. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t getting the results you are looking for. Tinker with your search terms and you will find what works best for you.
2) Tweetbeep: This monitoring tool is similar to Google Alerts except it only monitors Twitter. Sign-up and enter search terms just like you would in Google Alerts. Simple as that. If you’re looking for more advanced Twitter monitoring tools, check out this post from the Social Media Examiner.
3) Google Videos: YouTube is probably the most common social media tool that dancers are using to promote themselves. Looking to hire a dancer or choreographer? Enter their name and you can see previous work. If you’re a choreographer, this will be a helpful tool to see if students are posting your choreography without your knowledge.
4) Blog Pulse: This monitoring tool zeros in on the blogosphere. This is helpful for you heavy hitters in the industry to get feedback on your work.
5) RSS Feed: This stands for really simple syndication. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. Google Reader is a commonly used news aggregator to view all of your RSS feeds.
Twitter is another great monitoring tool. Search for your favorite dancers, choreographers or dance media and follow them. Even if you do not want to have anything to do with Twitter, I suggest you at least sign-up and reserve your name so no one else takes it and poses as you. It is much easier to identify fake accounts these days but you don’t want to deal with any reputation management issues. I just think that it is better to be safe than sorry.
It will be uncomfortable at first for all of you Twitter newbies. You’re probably thinking, “I don’t know these people, isn’t it weird if I follow them?” True, but how many people on Facebook would you actually consider your friend? Yep, that’s what I thought. It’s not as weird as you think and following expert’s tweets will strengthen your dance education and awareness. For more tips and information on how to use Twitter, check out this post by Mashable.
What I suggest is that you also follow social media experts. They have some great insight on how to utilize social media to further your career. Also, go ahead and follow your favorite news media and other accounts that interest you. Twitter gives you the ability to set up lists so you can organize the different types of accounts you follow (dancers, bloggers, social media, news, etc.).
TweetDeck is a great platform to download to help keep organized. Just be careful with the notifications, it can really encourage adult A.D.D.
Here is a list of some social media experts you might want to check out on Twitter: Leo Bottary, Chris Brogan, Jamie Crager, Todd Defren, Jason Falls, Geoff Livingston, David Meerman-Scott, Scott Monty, Stefanie Moore, Jeremiah Owyang, Christopher S. Penn, Jeremy Pepper, Ike Pigott, Brett Pohlman, Mark Ragan, Bill Sledzik.
Listening on Twitter will help you understand what a personal and business brand looks like. Take tips from people you follow that you find interesting and emulate them. Once you feel like you have a good foundation, then go ahead and join the conversation.