Guy is an actor, director, writer, producer and general dogsbody. He is the founder of ZLS Theatre and BrightonActors.co.uk.
A previous version of this article was originally posted on Guy’s website at www.aguynamedguy.co.uk.
I’ve been asked a few times recently how to get the most out of Facebook for professional networking, and specifically how to get the most out of Facebook groups.
It’s actually really simple.
1. Turn on group notifications
Go to your selected group. Click on the Notifications button near the top of the group. Select All Posts.
The default setting when you join a new group is Friends’ Posts. But if you’ve just joined a group because you want to find out what the 300 other local theatre professionals are casting for, your friends may well be the ones you already know about. Changing this to All Posts means that you will get a notification any time someone you are not connected to makes a post as well – a great way to keep informed of opportunities with companies you are not connected to!
Using Highlights uses algorithms to allow Facebook to select which posts it thinks are of most interest to you. Like so many of these algorithms on Facebook, they don’t appear to work accurately, so I would not recommend using this setting.
2. Be selective
There are thousands of Facebook groups out there, possibly hundreds of which appear to be relevant to you. I recommend joining only those groups that are obviously useful to you.
How to select those groups? I’m afraid there is no short cut – you have to join them, check out their content, then decide. There are some groups out there with 10,000+ members, yet the only posts that are made are useless spam. There are also other groups such as British Actors Network, which are incredibly useful, but the volume of posts is such that having All Posts turned on means you will never leave your PC!
The good news is that you can join most groups fairly quickly, and leave equally as quickly if the group wall is full of spam. It’s worth scrolling down a few times to see how much moderation there is in a group, checking the times to see how often people post (some groups appear to have lots in them but have not been used for 12+ months), and seeing how many of the posts would be genuinely useful to you, as opposed to being the same people posting the same advert for their headshot services over and over. For public groups, you can read the wall before you send your join request anyway.
3. Useful groups to join
I try to moderate the groups I manage regularly – namely BrightonActors.co.uk – Helping Actors and London Actors Helping Actors. Locally (in Sussex) you can find useful information and castings in New Venture Theatre, Brighton Little Theatre, TPIS – Theatre Performers in Sussex, Hey, Brighton Improv Community…, Brighton Actors Networking, Fluxx and Brighton Fringe – Participant Skill Swap.
It’s also worth saying that everyone’s idea of a useful group will be different.
Finally, find theatre companies on Facebook and like their pages. It sounds so simple, but so many actors don’t do it! So many companies will post casting and workshop information on their pages – it’s free and it means you skip the paywalls of the casting websites!
If you REALLY like them, you can click on the Liked button at the top of the page, then select Get Notifications. This way you will get a notification every the page makes a post. Of course, you do risk an influx of notifications from pages that are very active if you do this.
Remember – social networking is just that – social. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. Try to focus your time in the areas that bring you most benefit – it’s very easy to get carried away, and find yourself lost in the void three hours later.