Whilst I’m a big fan of the benefits of social technologies to our careers, it would be naive to think there are only benefits to be had. This was highlighted with the recent news that a football scout from Manchester United was dismissed because of posts he had made on Facebook that were deemed to be racist.
Such stories are sadly all too common and provide a cautionary tale as to the potential harm social media can do to our careers. Of course, for most of us, the potential audience we have for our social ramblings is relatively small, but what about those in the public eye who have a much larger audience?
Social media undoubtedly provides those in the public domain with a closer relationship with their fans and admirers, but it also provides a level of scrutiny that can land people in hot water relatively easily.
This was something that Joseph Morgan, star of The Originals, attested to recently.
"There are always people who feel strongly that they don’t like something that happens," said Morgan, who stars in the spin-off series to The Vampire Diaries. "You have to accept that that’s a good thing—as long as people are feeling one way or another."
Making television like the theatre
Morgan revealed that the close interaction and engagement with fans makes appearing on a television show almost akin to working in the theatre and having a live audience to perform to.
Producers of the series are also taking a modern approach to social media by encouraging stars of the show to tweet live during the airing of each episode to provide maximum engagement with fans of the series. The feedback provided by fans can be invaluable, but it’s important to know where to draw the line.
"The fans are so polarized in what they are rooting for that to appease all of them the show would be gobbledygook," the producers say. "It wouldn’t make any sense."
It’s a fascinating experience for the producers, who are used to working behind the scenes. Suddenly they are given new exposure by social media, as fans of the show flock online to hear about the series any way they can.
The studies themselves are wary of the risks, however, and warn both actors and producers never to get into arguments with fans. It isn’t always easy, however, as executive producer Michael Narducci explains. He recently got into a heated discussion with a young fan about one of the characters on the show.
"Our fans are so passionate," he reveals. "I want them to be passionate, but it hurts my feelings when they are insulting to the actors. They’re my friends, and I want to support them. I’m not going to kill off a character just because someone on Twitter says that I should."
The other risk of engaging with fans on this kind of level is that some fans take it a bit too far. Executives are very aware of the potential for hardcore fans to take interest in their performers to the obsessive level.
"On the whole, you want your talent and executive producers out there engaging with the fans," show executive Mark Pedowitz says, "because they make your shows. They are the consumers."
It certainly brings a whole new perspective on performances when there is such a large (and live) interaction between fan and performer. I’m sure some of you reading this have appeared in amateur performances. How has social media impacted your work? How are you preparing yourself for a professional career? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.