January 24, 2013

You, The Brand.

Modeling isn't what it used to be. In the 90's we had a handful of Supermodels - Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Heidi Klum - who were all household names. They were featured on magazine covers and revered in the media. Then the 2000's hit. Actresses took over the magazine covers, and models became no-name faces rarely used by clients long enough to create recognition. Models lost branding power and became easily replaceable commodities which were tossed aside as soon as they hit their mid to late twenties. Luckily, however, that trend is shifting. Models like Tyra Banks and Coco Rocha are showing that a models' career needn't be limited to the branding of whichever client they are currently modeling for - they created brands in and of themselves. I would like to talk about why personal branding is so important, and how you can begin to achieve it for yourself through social media.

Models are a dime a dozen. They are not a rare commodity. The struggles we all face as models in this highly competitive industry are proof enough of that. So what will set you apart? Companies are increasingly seeking models with an already-existing marketing base. If you can turn around and share these brands with your thousands of Twitter or Instagram followers that creates quite the incentive for a brand looking for additional marketing. In the beginning of your career it might just help you get more test shoots - up-and-coming photographers are trying to get their names out there just like you are. You have followers, they have followers, but your followers combined?? That's worth something and can be the extra incentive needed to finally schedule that photo shoot. As your career progresses paying brands look for these incentives as well. As Coco Rocha said, "People pay big bucks for a Kim Kardashian to talk about something, but what about you?"

So what is your brand? This is something you should really sit down and think about. Consider what makes you special and uniquely you, and make a game plan for presenting your best version of that to your followers. If you don't know where to start ask your friends and family. How would they describe you? What do they admire about you? Do you remind them of anyone famous? Sometimes we have a hard time seeing ourselves honestly, but our peers can help us start to recognize our innate qualities and the way others' perceive us.

When it comes to social media there are many different outlets to choose from. Start with one and get the hang of it before taking on multiple accounts. I found this explanation of how to use the different choices very helpful at the beginning:

The amount of sharing you should do varies depending on which outlet you have chosen and how much quality content you have to share. You should post every day, but keep in mind that no one (except maybe your mother) wants to see you all day every day in their feed. If they can't sort through you to see other people in their feed they will delete you. Don't be annoying! Also keep in mind that you are selling something - don't post anything that will cheapen your brand. You are in essence sharing a highlight reel. Quality over quantity!

And finally, one fair warning: when it comes to booking work with clients keep in mind that some of them aren't into this whole social media thing. While this has been the rare case in my experience, there are definite times you should be careful. This can be especially true if you are working on commercials. Some clients like to keep the details of what they're shooting (or that they are shooting at all) under wraps until final media comes out to the public. When in doubt don't name names. You can say you're working a job, just don't give away the details of who the client is or where you are on set. A big mouth can potentially get you pulled from a job, so just be aware of the risk and be careful.

Social media is not only a great way to create you, the brand, but also to connect with others. Find people who inspire you, interact, ask questions. The best kind of networking is genuine. Now go have fun! :)

3 comments :

  1. Beautifully stated, Ellen.

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  2. Love this! It is such great and applicable advice for so many other industries too where a person is working for themselves and/or an agency.

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