If you’d asked me what I thought of that particular social platform (or social media in general) before my mom and sister and I started KOTAW Content Marketing just over two years ago, that’s what I would have said.
Of course now I’d say that Facebook is one of the best platforms for telling your brand’s story.
So what changed my mind?
To answer that question, I’ll have to tell you the story of my personal versus business experience with Facebook — and I’ll also have to quote Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.
I Was Peer-Pressured Into It!
My personal Facebook account was created six years ago (against my will!) by a cast member of a horror film I starred in called Blockhead.
I had no desire to be on social media (partially because I was still trying to keep a relatively low profile — this was before my mom and sister and I came out of hiding just over a year ago with the premiere of our Lifetime film, Run For Your Life — and partially because I vehemently thought it de-personalized relationships.
But of course, my opinion was in the minority. All my Blockhead cast mates and crew members — and even an on-set dog! — had Facebook accounts, and this was their main form of communication throughout filming.
So I was missing out on seeing all the pictures from the set. I was missing out on receiving invites to cast parties. So I (reluctantly!) let one of my fellow Blockhead leading ladies create a Facebook profile for me, with very specific instructions!
I told her to make it private and un-searchable. I made a point of saying that I’ll only add cast and crew members from the film and it won’t really be like I have Facebook; it’ll just be an extension of my commitment to the film.
I lived happily in this delusion for a little while, but then I got cast in another film, then another — and all these actors and directors, etc., etc. communicated via Facebook too — so I was kind of stuck.
So I added more people, then some more. I started making my own films that got accepted into film festivals. My films started winning awards. I met more and more people who tagged me in more and more pictures from all these red carpet events and suddenly I could no longer pretend that I didn’t use Facebook.
The Power of the Like (and Immediacy of the Dislike!)
But it made me uncomfortable. I won’t say it wasn’t addicting at times or that I didn’t love getting “likes” on my pictures from the red carpet or of me and my awards for acting and filmmaking. Each “like” felt kind of like a “screw you” to anyone who hadn’t believed in me in high school or college. So what If I was never in the popular theater crowd in school (before I realized such a thing was an oxymoron)? I was in Los Angeles getting cast in award-winning movies and making award-winning movies of my own!
So I liked the exhilaration of the likes (which Facebook brilliantly counted on) but even if I was more popular on Facebook than I was in high school, Facebook still felt like high school to me.
All the drama and superficiality. And I hated, hated, hated when I became friends on Facebook with someone I was friends with in real life, only to discover that their Facebook (or actual) persona was someone I would never actually want to be friends with.
I’m sorry, but once I’ve seen your drunken, misogynistic ”free-style” rap video come up in my Facebook feed (and I’ve made the ultimate mistake of clicking on it) I’m never going to look at you the same way again. No matter how much you love dogs.
Personal Branding Panic Attack
I was strongly opposed to sharing anything personal on Facebook. I passionately believed that my personal life was sacred. And that only the special people in my real life should be privy to my daily goings-on, whether random, silly, infuriating or life-altering.
I constantly perplexed over what to post or not to post, and often suffered posting remorse.
I vacillated between thinking it was good marketing for my acting career (seeing as most my Facebook “friends” were in the business) to post pictures and videos of me as various characters (either from actual films or parts I played in acting class or even parts I played just for Halloween) and then thinking it was the worst idea ever when my pictures and videos seemed to provoke the male members of my Facebook friends to (at best) send me too many winky faces and (at worst) send me lewd private messages.
I started to hyperventilate. Did these guys think I was using Facebook as a dating site, when I’d made it my personal mission to use it completely professionally?!
My posts were almost exclusively about acting, writing and directing. Or about how I was donating money from my films to animal charities through my production company, WOOF Productions.
Some cute doggy pictures were tossed in the mix, and I remember happily posting pictures of decorations for theme parties I had put together for Kelsey (Bewitched and Betty and Veronica themes — I was so proud!) But that was about it.
So what exactly about my personal brand was saying I was looking to be “poked”?
By the way, Facebook, how much more phallic can you get? Oh, and to answer my above question: Absolutely nothing. But I didn’t know that yet.
A Passion for Pit Bulls and a Personal Branding Mission
The last post I made on my personal Facebook page (after very long periods of posting nothing at all) was in January 2013. It was a picture of a Pit Bull kissing booth.
About six months later I was so very proud to be using KOTAW as a platform to rebrand Pit Bulls as the sweet and loving dogs they are (using Ivy as our Pit Bull Brand Ambassador!) and delighted as could be to have abandoned my personal Facebook page (and all the drama and headaches that went along with it) to instead focus on KOTAW’s social media — and the social media accounts of our clients.
Constructing a Good Story — and a KOTAWesome Marketing Campaign
So how did I go from being turned off by (and often terrified of) social media to becoming an expert social media marketing strategist for KOTAW and our clients?
For one thing, six months before KOTAW appeared online, I studied every aspect of social media and social media marketing.
And suddenly I felt like Edith Wharton’s society-obsessed Lily Bart. I “had an odd sense of being behind the social tapestry, on the side where the threads were knotted and the loose ends hung.”
Only, instead of resenting my behind-the scenes role, as Lily Bart resented being banished to the outskirts of society, I delighted in it.
It was easier to think objectively when helping to create social media marketing strategies for KOTAW and KOTAW’s clients because I’m a natural storyteller and creative marketer.
Storytelling and thinking creatively and intelligently comes naturally to the KOTAW Girl Gang. My mom and sister and I feed off of each other’s ideas, and the stories keep coming and coming, along with KOTAWesome social media marketing and content strategies. When our passion is ignited, we’re an unstoppable force.
For instance, how did I get into a prestigious international film festival with a film I made with absolutely zero budget? I set up a camera on a tripod, told a good story, and with the KOTAW Girl Gang’s help, we marketed it brilliantly. Since my film was “bare bones,” my marketing campaign was too!
While all the other filmmakers relied on expensive glossy postcards to advertise their big budget films, my mom, sister and I made our “postcards” out of multi-colored construction paper! We wrote in marker “NO BUDGET! NO FANCY CAMERA ANGLES! NO COOL EQUIPMENT! But Featuring Bri Prooker, award-winning actress twice-featured on George Pennacchio’s “Hollywood Wrap” KABC-7 Los Angeles.”
The result? All the expensive glossy postcards for all the other films blended together, while my handmade construction paper promos stood out — both in the filmmaker “goodie bags” and on the display racks in the theater.
Everyone at the festival knew about my construction paper-advertising campaign, and everyone was talking about my film, Bliss Is…
And how did another one of my independent films, entitled GUT-TO-GO, land me two interviews with Emmy-award entertainment reporter George Pennacchio? I credit the KOTAW Girl Gang and our innate storytelling and creative marketing campaigns with that coup too!
But that’s another story for another day.
My point is, even before we started KOTAW Content Marketing together, my mom and sister and I were a team of storytellers with a successful marketing track record.
So once I learned the technical side of social media, all I had to do was stick to what I know best — storytelling as the key to intelligent marketing. If I could tell a good story with construction paper, markers and glue, all I had to do was transfer that skill online.
Standing Out With Stellar Storytelling
I’m proud of the successful social media marketing campaigns I’ve helped dream up and put into action, including one of our very first social media marketing campaigns for one of our very first KOTAW clients — we took her company’s profits from direct Twitter conversions from $0 to $10,000 in 30 days!
And I’m thrilled to have, in my behind-the-social-tapestry kind of way, helped brand KOTAW as a content marketing and brand storytelling agency that stands out just as much as my multi-colored construction paper postcards did!
I jump at the opportunity to put my social media marketing magic to work on projects that do social good, particularly projects geared toward helping animals or feel-good campaigns that inspire people and make the world a better place.
So now that I’ve stepped away from my personal social media efforts by abandoning my Facebook page for almost 3 years now, am I better equipped to objectively do my own social media marketing?
Only time will tell, but I think writing this blog is a good first step to coming out from behind the social media tapestry!
Now that I know there was nothing about my personal brand that was screaming for men to send me inappropriate notes (my mom gets more of those sleazy private messages in a month than I got in 6 years — and her social media accounts don’t include a single selfie!) I can rest assured that desperate and lazy men will always use whatever method of communication that requires the least amount of effort. Meaning Facebook makes it incredibly simple for random men to send random pathetic attempts at flirting, but that has nothing to do with me or my personal brand.
So I see an eventual return to my Facebook page in the future. In the meantime, I’ve started a Pinterest account for my next film, Love Abridged, which will one day be a joint WOOF Productions and KOTAW production!
And as I get my feet wet with my personal Pinterest account, I’ll happily continue making off stage brand storytelling magic for KOTAW and our clients. I’ve always been a big fan of magical fairy dust. And stories.
I know I’m not the only one who has suffered a personal branding panic attack. Have any of YOU struggled with a Hamlet-esque existential crisis of “To post or not to post”? Or experienced posting remorse?! It’s often hard to think objectively about ourselves. Which is why I very well may hire my mom and sister to help me do my own personal branding for Love Abridged! If you have any questions about YOUR social media marketing and personal branding, please ask me in the comments section below. (Even if I haven’t mastered my own social media, I’m very talented at coaching others with their own! I have excellent outside perception!) Or if you’re looking to hire someone to do your social media marketing and personal brand storytelling, you can contact the KOTAW Girl Gang here.
Update: Only two months after penning this blog, I’m back on Facebook! You can friend or follow me here.