Guy Michaels, with 20 years in corporate voiceover and as director of Voiceover Kickstart, gives very frank and practical advice... Read article →
We caught up with Gary Terzza, a British television announcer who is most widely known for his continuity announcing for Channel 4, and as a voice coach he has tutored professionals and beginners for many years.
So Gary, what’s your take on the rising tide of social media in relation to British voiceover artists promoting themselves and potentially finding new projects to work on?
Gary: Recently I have been reading a lot about the business potential of social media. The consensus seems to be it is a powerful tool that can enhance your voice over career and unite you with potential clients. But beware. The voice actor who sups with the likes of Facebook and Twitter needs a very long spoon.
Blowing your own trumpet
Before we explore the negatives, let’s take a look at the good things social media has to offer.
- Free advertising. Just letting people know what you are doing (eg ‘sitting in my warm home studio on a cold winter’s day’) flags up that you have an interesting job and has the potential to alert prospective clients. On Twitter you can also utilise the Network Business Hours, where each week you are allowed to sell your voice over services to other businesses in your local area.
- Useful interactions. I have often seen Tweets, Linkedin and Facebook posts where one voice talent is looking for another eg ‘Northern male voice needed for urgent VO project’. In this case the female poster isn’t the client, but is recording a job where there is a demand for a regional male accent in the script.
- Chance to shine. Nobody likes a show-off, but if you handle self promotion deftly it is permissible to publicise yourself effectively. Don’t go over the top, though, and keep these ‘voice selfies’ to a minimum; a quick tweet about a recent voice over success is often of interest to other talents as well as prospective customers.
- Learning. Whatever stage you are at in your voiceover career, the VO forums can be an invaluable training resource. From home studio advice, to performance tips these are places brimming with knowledge and expertise. Where else could you access some of the best voice acting brains in the world?
Dangers and Pitfalls
So far, so good, but there are perils to sharing all this content.
For starters you have to be careful what you say. The golden rule is don’t share anything you wouldn’t want broadcast on network TV news!
I have come across some classic faux pas.
An old colleague of mine once asked my advice about continuity announcer work. I gladly gave him some friendly guidance, which he gratefully acknowledged. A few weeks later he announced he had secured an audition with a large TV broadcaster; he was very excited… but then I spotted one of his Facebook posts.
He started criticising that station’s programme output. Talk about biting the hand that might feed you!
Needless to say he didn’t get the job, which may not have been as a direct result of his indiscretions, but I am sure they didn’t help.
Social media can bring out the worst (as well as the best) in people. I occasionally see tweets where voice actors, who should know better, disparage other voice actors. They may have heard a commercial or trailer they have done, and then start picking on the performance. This is definitely a no-no.
Keep your personal thoughts to yourself. The profession can be a wonderfully supportive community, so try not to get sucked into the darker, bitchier side.
It’s Who You Know
Understandably there is a tendency to gravitate towards fellow voice over artists, which in itself is no bad thing. Following more experienced VOs or even beginners can be good fun and provides a sense of belonging. As we have seen, it may even provide the odd job lead.
But if you are serious about getting work, you should also consider breaking out of this niche group who, let’s face it, can end up as your competitors. Ask yourself “who will be the most useful to my voice over career?”. It may sound mercenary, but you are running a business and must consider your bottom line.
The social marketing expert Eric Enge talks about the importance of leveraging other people’s audiences to maximise your exposure. In other words following and interacting with voice over agencies, recording studios, production companies and businesses who book VO talent is far more likely to yield results than just ‘preaching to the converted’.
Use social media like a pro and you will be pleasantly surprised at the opportunities it can bring to your voice over career.
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