The whole world has now cottoned on to the fact that social networking sites are an effective tool of promotion. Word travels fast online, and news will often break on Twitter first, or before it’s even been officially announced. West End shows and theatre venues hold their own Twitter accounts and use them as a means of connecting with the online theatre fans and promoting their production/s in an effort to attract their audience. Most of the inhabitants of the West End also hold their own accounts, with more joining every day. Again, it provides a vital link to followers and allows them to keep the fans up-to-date with what they’re up to. It works for them and it keeps their fans happy; everyone wins, right? Wrong. When it comes to self-promotion, there is a delicate balance between offering information that you think fans may want to know and being egocentric; when the scales tip towards the latter, that’s where the problems begin. I have no intention of pointing the finger at anyone in particular, but there are a select number of individuals on my Twitter timeline who are growing substantially self-obsessed. Every day, all I see from them is a flurry of ‘me, me, me’ tweets, with endless bragging and reposted flattery. I’m sure everyone can think someone like that on their timeline and I’m sure they’ll also agree with me that it’s becoming increasingly tiresome. I’m not referring to the ‘stagey’ phenomenon, I’ve written here before how performers should indeed be proud of the work they do and that there is nothing wrong with sharing that. There is a big difference though between being proud and being self-centred. When somebody expresses their delight at being involved with a particular show or their exaltation at having met/worked with someone in the industry whom they admire, some may call that ‘stagey’ behaviour, but they are simply celebrating the industry they work in and the people who are a part of it. When somebody continually tweets about how good they are compared to other people or how great they looked/sounded in whatever form of recording it may be, they unfortunately do come across as being egocentric. I wrote a blog previously on how social networking should be utilised. One of the things that cropped up was productions/companies which barraged followers with their one-sided positive feedback and unrelentingly promoted themselves, often without even bothering to try and personally relate to anyone. There were a lot of people who sent in comments about how much they disliked this too and how it can be so off-putting that it actually drives followers away. This is a practice which applies, not only to show/company Twitter accounts, but performers too. If they follow the same pattern, they too can end up losing the very fans they were trying to attract. No one is saying that believing in yourself is a bad thing, quite the opposite in fact; after all, if you don’t believe in yourself then nobody else is going to either. It’s all about balance again though. Self-belief is all fine and dandy as long as it is tempered with a little touch of modesty as well. For example: if you are promoting the album you’ve recorded, it’s perfectly acceptable to say how proud you are of the results (you should be) and that you just hope others like it too. Most people are aware that what they’ve made won’t be to everyone’s liking but, content in the knowledge that they are happy with it, they have no qualms about allowing others to make up their own minds and letting any negativity pass over their heads. If you consistently push your album down people’s throats, raving about how fantastic you are on it and berating anyone who dares to disagree, then you have missed the point completely. Here are the three main guidelines to be remembered when using social networking sites: 1) Don’t retweet every compliment that comes your way. It’s like giving yourself a round of applause and shouting to the world how wonderful you think you are. No-one likes that. You wouldn’t frame every piece of fan mail and exhibit them on your wall at home – at least I hope you wouldn’t. It never fails to make me smile when someone tweets me to say something nice about a piece I’ve written, but I don’t need to repost those messages as I don’t feel the need to display them in public view like some form of validation. 2) Don’t brag about how talented you are. The most beloved people are those who are also humble about their talents. The day you start to believe that you have nothing left to learn is the day you should quit this business. You never stop learning and improving. 3) Don’t criticize someone who criticizes you. People have their own tastes and you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s impossible. Nobody is universally liked and you are inevitably going to encounter someone who in fact doesn’t think that you’re the best thing since sliced bread, especially in this industry. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and if it happens to differ from yours then so be it. I regularly receive negative comments from people who have disagreed with something I’ve written and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Debate is healthy and if everyone agreed with everyone else, the world would be a very dull place indeed. You have to have a touch of ego to make it anywhere in life. Self-belief is a vital part of success, but it’s when that turns into self-centredness that it can actually become a detrimental aspect of yourself. By all means, be proud of yourself and your accomplishments, but just don’t let yourself become the sun at the centre of your very own universe, otherwise you may wake up one day and realise that the only thing revolving around you is empty space.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Friday 20th April 2012