Modeling has always been about turning heads, but these days, it’s more about attracting followers. In a race to capture eyeballs and likes, models are using social media as a marketing tool.
The industry itself is evolving beyond the portfolio and the zed card, as clients look to those who can influence consumers and capture the most precious commodity of all: attention. In short, clients want models who can rock social media.
Models are accustomed to selling things, but in the digital age, they’re required to sell themselves, and that may be the biggest gig of all.
These days, we don’t see a model as much as we see a brand, an (almost) fully fleshed out human being with an enviable life. Almost every second of their existence is fair game, up for posting; a good part of their day is dedicated to looking interesting and staying relevant. Even a selfie that seems spontaneous and breezy was probably deep in the planning stages and given much thought and prep.
However, not all model feeds are superficial and obsessed with mythmaking. The best ones — and the smart ones — exude authenticity, genuineness, simplicity, and honesty.
Models always have had a special relationship with the camera, but now that connection is more vital than ever before.
Here Abbey Lynn Models agent Tony Tilli gives us an overview on the advent of social media, and how it’s brought a sea change in the industry. He also recommends some of the models on his board with a good grasp on how to do it right.
How has social media changed the modeling business?
Social media has changed the modeling business on multiple levels. It has allowed advertisers to market via a new medium that actually grabs the attention of their target audiences better than traditional print or commercials, resulting in jobs presented to us with usages that are simply “social media only,” as opposed to a more wide net of platforms that we are used to. It also is a great marketing tool for the models – Instagram and YouTube are very visual mediums and give clients more to see of a model before they are requested for a casting. Clients also pay attention to the social media followings of the models from our agency that are in consideration for jobs if it is important to them – if they were to book them, and the model were to post their work on their Instagram page that has 20k+ followers, they are able to reach even more people with their campaign than booking someone with, say, 1,000 followers.
What has social media not been able to change in the business? In other words, what part of the business remains the same as always?
Social media doesn’t really affect the overall casting process. It is still very important for models to have a strong portfolio, make a great impression on clients at castings, and be professional on jobs. At the end of the day, the client still wants to meet with models before they are booked on jobs, and want to be certain they are booking a professional, experienced person.
How much of your scouting do you do on social media? What are you looking for?
We do a lot of scouting on social media. The way someone photographs is of the utmost importance, and with Instagram being all about pictures, it is a great tool. We are always on the lookout for a new great face, looking through different profiles and checking in on the people that follow us to make sure we are not missing out on someone special. Though being photogenic is the main criteria, we also look for a person’s ability to show their unique personality through their photos, a certain level of relatability, and their followers and how they engage with them.
How important is it for a model to have a social media presence?
Social media is becoming a big factor in the casting process and it can serve as both a help and a hindrance.
Clients do look at talent’s social media to track content and followers. A large social media following might be the factor that gets one model a booking over another.
It can also be a negative, as clients take content into consideration. For example, I had an actor who booked a job and when the client reviewed his social media content, they found comments that they deemed offensive. He was cancelled for a very lucrative booking because of it.
As long as a model is conscious of what they are posting, a strong social media presence can be a great thing, allowing a model to showcase their looks, personality, and overall brand, helping them secure jobs in the industry.
What are clients looking for when they check out your agency’s social media — and your models’ personal social media? What should clients never see in models’ social media?
For models, clients are looking for number of followers, positive, upbeat content, and a well-rounded, relatable overall brand. In other words, not just a bunch of duck-lipped selfies! Clients will often go to talent’s social media in lieu of digitals or Polaroids to see what they really look like without makeup, lighting or re-touching. They never want to see nudity, offensive comments or images, uneducated or biased opinions, or violence of any kind.
For the agency, we like to utilize social media to showcase our models in ways past their online portfolio. We like to show fun digitals or boomerangs of new models, any new test shots that we love from a model, and little “getting to know you” videos so that clients can learn more about the model. It really allows them to get a good sense of a model before meeting them. We also like to post work that we have booked that we are allowed to post, utilizing the hashtag #webookedthat.
Can content that talent post online ever be a double-edged sword, or serve as a Catch 22?
Many times they want to post work they have done; however, that might interfere with their ability to be booked with a competitor.
For example, if you are up for a big Coca Cola campaign, the client might find the Pepsi ad that you posted to your social media as a conflict of interest. He or she might not realize that the Pepsi ad was ten years ago, or perhaps it was for internal usage only. By posting it online, the talent is putting what could potentially be a deal-breaking conflict to the forefront. The post could ultimately lose a job for them. Being cognizant of this possible issue is part of the job and we hope that all our models are careful when posting about their bookings as to not halt them from future successes.
What are the best platforms for models?
Instagram is probably the main one – it is a primarily visual medium that is the most requested platform from our clients when asking about social media. YouTube can also be a great tool that allows the models to show their personality on camera, opening them up to even more opportunities in the commercial world.
What is the difference between a model and an “influencer?” Can a model be an influencer? What are the ways a model can build a social media following?
An influencer, in social media terms, is someone who has garnered a large following with high audience engagement that a brand might reach out to to have them promote their product or service on their page. They post about the product in a more relatable, “guys, you HAVE to try this!” way that can look like an honest opinion to the untrained eye. But companies will pay their influencers with products, or possibly with an actual monetary rate for these “opinions.” A client might utilize an influencer and their reach to get the word out about their product to a specific audience without it feeling like an advertisement.
A model, on the other hand, is, by definition, “one who is employed to display clothes or other merchandise”. They express the vision of others and promote a product or service from a more “aspirational” angle – “own this type of dish soap, and you can look and feel THIS luxurious”. While an influencer might promote a product through relatability – “you’ll love this because you know me and I won’t steer you wrong” — a model promotes a product through aspiration – “you want this product because you want this lifestyle”.
While models can be influencers on social media, those types of deals typically do not pay the amount that being a model for a campaign, or being part of a television commercial, might bring in.
Who are the models on your board with examples of great social media presence?
Instagram: 19.5k followers
Instagram: 65.3k followers
Instagram: 98.5k followers
Instagram: 14.1k followers
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