Around this time last year, the New York Post published an article all about how “[S]tudios are now looking for actors who are Insta-famous,” a post which likely sent any classically-trained actor into an absolute frenzy.
“What does this even mean?! Where do I get followers? Why does that matter if I’m talented?” …and other completely relevant questions have swum around the heads of the social media un-savvy for quite a few years now as the line between “social media celeb” and “Hollywood celeb” continued to blur.
Quoted in the piece was Amy Neben, a Los Angeles-based talent manager at Select Management Group: “Movies and shows are commonly casting with social-media quotas to fill . . . I would imagine that nearly every digital project has some form of quota, [as do] a growing number of traditional projects.”
This means you can be up for a role against someone slightly less right for the part and wind up losing it to them purely based off of social media presence. Is it always that cut and dry? Likely, no. But casting agents are looking at your following and how marketable you are whether you want them to or not — it’s their job. And anyone who’s ever worked in sales or marketing can tell you when there’s a lofty quota that must be met, the strategy quickly moves away from arbitrary.
Recently, during TheWrap’s annual media technology conference, Jason Newman, a manager and producer at Untitled Entertainment, explained that while not everyone considers social media during the casting process, it can be a major deciding factor. Directors depend on casting directors to bring in the best actors for those roles; the social media part is an extension.
“If I have two actors up for the same role, and it’s between actor A and B, and actor B has 2 million followers across all social media platforms and actor A has 20 million, but they’re neck-in-neck in their acting ability or maybe actor B is even a little bit better, but man we know if we convert one and a half to two percent of their social media following to buyers, I’m hiring that person,” Newman said. “I want to have a bigger ROI on my investment so of course, I’m doing that, so yes, social media is playing a massive component in all of this.”
To sum it up, while having a strong social media presence isn’t necessarily a must-have in order to be cast, it is becoming the number one deciding factor when agents are torn between two or more actors for a role. But if social media isn’t your thing, don’t sweat it just yet! You can hire people to help with cleaning up your feed and growing your following. You can also take an online course, network, or take classes at most local colleges.
And for my thrifty friends who prefer to research everything online for free, you bet your bottom dollar YouTube has a million videos on social media tips and tricks.
At the end of the day, even if you don’t have millions of followers, showing casting agents your marketability and keen eye for the content that makes you glow will ultimately help you in the long run. It’s worth the extra effort, even if you find yourself rolling your eyes while captioning that new headshot post.