Winter 2021

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84 SAG-AFTRA | Winter 2021 | Make Your Digital Space Work for You Facebook, YouTube and Twitter initiated the rise of social media, but today's market has grown more competitive than ever with new video platforms on the scene: Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and more. Having many options can be overwhelming in the beginning, but the first and best step is finding a platform that works for you. For Ryan Walker, a National NextGen Performers Committee member and owner of Los Angeles-based social media consultation firm TSMA, Instagram is an ideal platform. Since being bought by Facebook in 2012, the photo- and video-sharing platform has become a one-stop shop for short-form content: quick comedic clips, tutorials and product reviews. And with sub-platforms Instagram Live, IGTV and Reelz, the app is a great way to be experimental. "As a visual artist or performer, writer or producer ... Instagram covers all those bases," he said at the Social Media for Performers: Beyond the Basics livestream. If you're finding things to be a bit stagnant, don't be afraid to make changes such as finding another platform or increasing the amount you post. "Social media is your channel: You're in charge of its programming and can literally program it [however you want]," said Henderson. "Don't forget you have that power." Building Content: Making the Old New and the Ordinary Interesting If you are starting out or trying to grow followers, you may feel like distancing yourself from old work, but Walker noted that sharing past projects, or "throwbacks," is a good way to ensure you're staying active. "People stop posting because they run out of new content, but your archives [can help] motivate you to get content out," said Walker. Another helpful tactic is editing your content for multiple channels. Although every platform functions differently, editing for size or length relieves some of the pressure to constantly create and widens your reach. For example, actor and Bfunk co-founder Shivani Bhagwan and her business partner film clips vertically and later edit them for other platforms. Finally, don't dismiss what you think are the less-polished aspects of your personal life. Well-known content creators intersperse their work with footage of personal hobbies and slice-of-life moments as a means of bolstering engagement with followers and creating more evergreen material. "When social media first started … I think there was this notion that [what you showed] was the best 5% of you, very produced and filtered. Now there is rawness [and] I think people are more attracted to that now," said Bhagwan. Keep in mind that SAG-AFTRA offers various contracts for this type of work, both scripted and unscripted, making it easy to find a good fit for all of your projects to be signatory (see sidebar, page 83). Adding to Your Toolkit There is no one single way to create for the digital space, but there are approaches you can employ when making original content. During the NGP Cafe: NexGen Content Creation livestream, every guest speaker noted that an interest in and exposure to other industry work led to the important step of learning a new skill as a creator. New York Local Board member and National NextGen Performer Committee member Evan Bass noted that his improvisation work sparked an interest in writing and producing. "In improv, you are creating all these great ideas for sketches, and following that passion was motivating because I'd think, 'They won't A QUICK WORD ABOUT VERIFICATION F or many content creators on social media, verification is seen as the ultimate goal. After all, the blue seal and checkmark isn't just a sign of one's popularity, but the result of your hard work and growth in viewers and followers. Still, remember that verification isn't a badge of excellence. "Don't be frustrated if you haven't been verified," said SAG-AFTRA NextGen Performers Committee member Ryan Walker and founder of social media management company TSMA. "It doesn't mean that you're not significant … but rather that [your account] hasn't been flagged as one with impersonators or is a fan account [and] could cause confusion." That's right, sometimes the reason you haven't become verified yet is that it's still easier for would-be followers to search and find you. Also, keep in mind that the process for verification varies from platform to platform, and some make it more difficult than others. For example, Hootsuite notes Instagram verifies accounts that "serve the public's interest," have a high chance of impersonation by others or, otherwise, are a combination of authenticity, notability and uniqueness. With a combination of statistics and intangibles, it can be hard to get your marks even after applying to do so. If it hasn't happened yet for you, Walker advised the best thing to do is remain consistent. "Keep working on your craft [and] your social media presence, and eventually you'll get verified."

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