By Shannon Langman
Stop what you are doing and type your full name into Google search. If the only pages that come up are Facebook images of you with your cat and random pages with your name on them (or even worse, nothing!), you have some work to do on your online persona.
The internet is a beautiful and opportunistic place for opera singers, a platform for networking and branding like none other! Get yourself out there by being specific about what it is you want to show, by using a mission statement about your goals. Answer this question with one sentence: what do you want your imprint on the operatic or classical music world to be? Before you post online, ask yourself whether or not the sentence/picture/comment you are contemplating posting fits with your “mission statement.” If it does, great! If not, reword or set it to a private setting.
Don’t worry, as you grow as an artist, you can always change this “mission statement” and move forward!
Now on to the specifics. Here is your guide to utilizing the social networking world to create your own personal brand as an artist.
First: Clean up what you have online.
Think of your online footprint as your first impression. To stress the importance of this, ask yourself, would you walk into an audition with that cat pic from Facebook as your headshot? Chances are you would never dare show that image to a casting person or a colleague you just met, but if it is online and not set to some private setting, that is most likely the first impression you give to those who come across your page.
Log out of all the platforms listed below to view your profile the way the rest of the world sees it, and follow the steps listed to clean it up:
- If there are things that Google pulls up that you want to delete, there is a process to clear those pages out, found here: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061?rd=1. This process only applies to old pages, those that have been cached after deletion. If you need to go further, there is an option (https://duckduckgo.com/feedback) to request for a page to be pulled down for non-legal reasons.
- Google Images has a separate process (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35308?rd=1)
- Deleting images and posts is the best way to go to ensure no unwanted posts are foud, but if you just have to post that cat meme, be sure your content’s visibility is set to Private. To set your content to Private all at one time, use the following function: Log in >Privacy Settings > Limit Past Post Visibility.
- If the content you want to delete has been posted by someone else, you can use the ‘untag’ option, send a message asking them to delete, or contact Facebook using the Intellectual Property form (http://lifehacker.com/5850288/how-to-fix-internet-embarrassments-and-improve-your-online-reputation)
- As long as your account has the “Protect my Tweets” box checked, you may customize who can retweet from there. However, think about your “mission statement” before you tweet, as it is the largest and most widely used platform.
- Hide anything you don’t want to be seen, and make sure your website, YouTube channel, and any other platforms you may use are visible to visitors on your profile.
- Update all your information and make sure your other site links are listed and visible.
Second: Add your online presence to all your social media sites.
None of these “first impression” warnings are intended to scare you into becoming an online hermit – you should have a profile on every platform you can, especially if it is free! Even if you don’t use or update some of them often, just having them is key. That means Facebook and a Facebook Like Page, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, and any others you can think of, in addition to your website. Your online presence is your projected first impression before your physical first impression, so take control of it and make it a truthful representation of yourself as an artist. Remember that “mission statement” when adding content, and know that the more links and website you have on different pages, the better your chances are of being seen and heard.
It seems we cannot stress this enough: anything that is not set to private should show the best side of your artist persona. As an artist, your abilities are constantly changing with each new lesson, coaching, and performance. As an artistic entrepreneur, your online presence should be changing just as often, and you have to keep it updated and maintained. Your persona online is something that you as an artist control, and should portray yourself how you want to be seen as an honest representation of your artistry as your brand!
Photo Credit Shannon Langman Photography | www.ShannonLangmanPhotography.com
Model: Kyla Knox, Soprano
Shannon Langman, Photographer, Writer, Freelance Arts Professional