I recently had the chance to work with some of the most talented (and popular) social media creators in the world and I want to share with you what I learned.
But first, a little backstory.
In my “day job” as the head of digital media for The Academy, I had the opportunity to put together a pretty unique stunt called the Oscars Creators as part of this year’s social campaign for the show. It was an initiative through which we invited seven talented social media artists from different platforms including Vine, Instagram, and Tumblr to come to Hollywood and share their perspective on all the Oscars activity.
It turned out to be a great program, and you can see some of the highlights here:
But it also gave me an opportunity to learn from these talented creators, see how they work, how they’ve built massive followings on social media, and learn how they created opportunities for themselves. While the Creators weren’t comedians (though some of their work is comedic) and each had different skill sets – filmmakers, photographers, artists, etc. – I noticed they all had some things in common that a lot of comics could learn from.
Here’s a breakdown of what I learned and how you can apply it to your own career…
1. Be Professional
Every one of the Creators acted like a true professional. They showed up on time, ready to do their work, and they were reliable. In order for the Creators program to work, we had to give them access to very exclusive stuff like rehearsals and show talent and they had to work within parameters that included tight time windows and restrictions on what could or could not be revealed to the public before the show.
But I quickly learned that each of these Creators was trustworthy and dependable – they took their opportunities seriously and were always very professional. Even though they were doing fun (and sometimes silly) stuff like photographing a turtle or waking up on the red carpet, they treated their work like it was important (and it was).
I have no doubt that their professionalism is one of the reasons they have all been so successful – I know it made me want to work with them again and recommend them to others. Too often, comics don’t act as professionals and it definitely holds a lot of them back from succeeding.
2. Value Your Community
Another thing I noticed among all of the Creators was the degree to which they valued their community of fellow social media creators. To my surprise, several of them already knew each other from crossing paths prior to this Oscars project and they were all interested in getting to know each other and finding ways to work together.
They inherently understood the value of being part of a creative community – from both an inspirational and promotional standpoint. They wanted to connect, collaborate, and to find ways to work with each other. They clearly understood the value of connecting with each other and the ways that a community can help all of its members.
This reminded me of what I see as one of the biggest missed opportunities in the comedy world – not enough comics take advantage of their comedy community. Whether it be the community in your city, your local club, or other comedians you connect with online, there are opportunities to help each other, learn from each other, and get closer to accomplishing your goals together.
Too often, comics approach their career as a lone wolf and that only makes things harder. These Creators clearly have the opposite approach and I have no doubt it’s helped them grow their followings.
3. Have A Vision
While each of the Creators we worked with had their own unique talent, I was impressed with how clearly each of them had a vision for what they wanted to do. They knew their own art and were able to articulate their talent and how they approach their work.
For example, if a photographer was interested mainly in shooting portraits, he would decline opportunities to shoot landscapes or other stuff. It wasn’t that he couldn’t shoot landscapes or even that he didn’t ever shoot landscapes, it was that he chose to focus on what he was really passionate about doing.
And not only did they have preferences and a vision, but they had a commitment to what they were doing – in some cases even down to little things that the average follower might not ever even notice. For example, one Creator had a set pattern for the images he would post on Instagram – insisting that the colors in one image lead to the colors of the next image.
They were not artists making random decisions, they were talented creatives who each had a specific process for how they liked to work and their own vision for what they wanted to accomplish with their creations.
In the comedy world, too often comedians don’t really have any vision for what they’re trying to do or what they want to say. They just want to make people laugh. That’s fine, but ultimately I think you will be helped by honing in on having a message you’re trying to convey and a process through which you hope to do that.
And it’s a reminder that just because you have the opportunity to do something, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best use of your skills for your ultimate goals. Choose wisely with how you spend your time.
4. Set A High Standard For Yourself
Each one of the Creators I dealt with set a high standard of quality for their work. They didn’t just post every little thing they made, they cared a lot about putting out work they were proud of.
Every photo or video they released had to live up to a quality standard that they had set for themselves. And if they made some stuff that didn’t turn out quite as good as they had hoped, they wouldn’t post it.
When it comes to comedians, I often see them setting low standards for what they post online and reserving their quality control only for things they deem to be more important like the stage. But every thing you put out into the world is representative of you and the level of your work so it’s worth taking that into account before you click publish.
I’m all for experimenting, and I don’t think you should be afraid to try new things, but at the same time you want to use social media to share work that you’re proud of and avoid falling into the trap of posting things just for the sake of posting them.
Just because you have the ability to publish whatever you want, doesn’t mean that you should.