Editor’s note: DancePulp welcomes The Ballet Bag! Here is Emilia and Linda’s first guest post. More guest posts from The Ballet Bag and others to come.
A few months ago ballet and Twitter appeared together in the same front page article in the New York Times. Entitled ‘Ballet Stars Now Tweet as Well as Flutter‘ and illustrated with a photo of NYCB’s Ashley Bouder tweeting during a rehearsal break, the article by Gia Kourlas argued that Twitter is “starting to change the public face of ballet (…) making ballet dancers human.”
In our fast growing social media landscape, Twitter is one among many channels where dance professionals and audiences can meet, hang out in virtual space and make key connections. In his recent interview for Dance Pulp ABT soloist Daniil Simkin described the viral potential of YouTube videos; how uploading his own content gave him a chance to be “stumbled upon” and how this helped him early in his career.
We were reminded of Simkin’s online strategy recently when a talented young choreographer with fresh and original ideas about ballet asked us for advice on increasing exposure of one’s work in the web. Was having an official site enough? What other advice and tips could we give? This is a question we often get when we talk to people who work in the dance world. Long hours in rehearsal and performance mean they have limited time to spend on the internet. Often they are not clear on the benefits of blogging, tweeting, facebooking, VYou’ing and the advantages of social media marketing in general.
The evolution of the world wide web has built bridges and made it possible for everyone to find novelty ways to communicate and influence. A big part of our project at The Ballet Bag consists of trying to understand and alter negative public perception of ballet, so for us social media is a key ingredient. Setting up a website is important but, unless that site is also being used as a blogging platform, it is the equivalent of a business card. Social media is where we hand out that card, where we can promote content but also make key connections, scout for hot topics, understand readers’ opinions and expectations. It’s where we can also take part in interesting conversations.
If you are trying to promote your work in the arts field and have a direct connection with your audience and your online presence is limited to a static website and a personal Facebook account, then perhaps it’s time to broaden your horizons, make the most of the time you spend online and become an active voice:
Tips for maintaining an effective online presence:
1) Watch, Learn, Do
Observe what your peers are already doing online, identify where your audience and potential networks are based and be there. Pick a channel that works for you and stick with it. There is no use setting up a Twitter account or Facebook page to promote your work only to abandon it once the novelty wears off. If you are not keeping a regular flow of posts and interesting content all the buzz you generated will die off quickly. Keep the momentum going.
2) Yes, but which one?
If you are already on Facebook, extending your presence beyond a personal profile into a “Page” allows you to post links, upload photos and videos to be shared outside your immediate network of friends.
If you can’t live without your smartphone and have limited time online then Twitter is for you.
If you are good with words, then go the blog way. There are plenty of user-friendly but fully customizable platforms (eg. Blogger and WordPress). If you want to blog short posts with mixed media then Tumblr might be perfect.
Video Conversation platform Vyou is still in Beta testing but already looks like an interesting option for those who like to give advice. See Ashley Bouder in action on Vyou.
3) Engagement is key
People don’t like to talk to a wall. Engaging back and responding to questions and comments are key to building up and maintaining an effective presence online. Start or drop into an existing conversation (eavesdropping is completely acceptable on Twitter).
4) Be Yourself
What makes you and your work unique is what will keep people reading your content and engaging back.
5) Don’t Panic & Take Your Time
Keep in mind that opportunities do not pop out of social media overnight. If you focus on being creative and finding people with the same interests, projects and collaborations will follow in due course. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or support. We’ve all been there. Ask a friend, a colleague or leave a comment here.
In short, an active online presence fosters relationships and potential collaborations. Social media changed the way we connect, removing barriers and formalities. We now have the chance to use it for effective marketing as well; to pursue opportunities or, as Daniil rightly says, to be stumbled upon.