Ivy Wilde examines the effect of social media on the profile of burlesque and asks if Facebook and Burlesque are always compatible and used appropriately…
Social media has been a huge contributing factor to the rise of the burlesque scene in the UK, but is it bad for burlesque business? It has just as many bad points as good if you don’t treat it like a business page.
I remember when I started researching burlesque via the internet the places to go to see what was out there were message boards (Ministry of Burlesque, Women’s Institute of Burlesque) and Myspace. Facebook hadn’t particularly gained popularity; I was only in the early stages of using it and although there were some performers on there and groups for burlesque events, there hadn’t yet been the en masse migration of performers.
This meant a couple of things:
- People conducted their business professionally, as what they wrote on Myspace/message boards was out there for the world to see.
- There wasn’t the amount of social interaction between performers as there now is.
Facebook has a lot to answer for, and while I don’t approve of people airing their dirty burlesque laundry on social media I can see why performers fall into the trap of doing so.
It is hard to distinguish a performer’s profile from a personal profile. I know that many performers use their burlesque profile a lot more than their personal one and a lot of the time the lines become blurred as to what is and what isn’t appropriate to be shared.
Below I’ve written a few things to keep in mind when posting to your profile. It isn’t a list of Dos and Don’ts, I’m not about to dictate anything to anyone, but maintaining a professional image is key to a happy and successful Facebook life.
Think about Who Is Viewing Your Profile
There are three main groups of people who view your profile:
- Fellow Performers: those you have met and those you haven’t.
- Potential Employers: promoters, photographers, bloggers – those who can give you exposure and pay for your services.
- Audience members: those who have seen you perform and pay to go to the events you’re paid for performing at.
You’re performing for a reason and, whatever that may be, you’re putting yourself out there on a stage and you’re not being forced to do it. The optimist in me is saying it’s because you love it, and you want to be out there shaking your thang in rhinestoned pasties with your inner monologue shouting: “Fuck the world, I’M FABULOUS”.
Surely you can think of something fantastic to post about? Writing good, positive content will drive traffic to your profile and raise your performer profile in the industry. Why not:
- Share someone’s video that you’ve been bowled over by.
- Comment on an amazing costume.
- Write about a unique idea someone’s had for an act (even if you’re insanely jealous that you didn’t think of it first!).
- Post photos of costume items you’re working on and previews of new acts.
- Write about events you have coming up.
- Write about the skills you’re learning and then post photos/small video clips.
- Think you’re the Queen of blah blah blah – as long as you can back it up write about it; it is a page to promote yourself after all and no one got anything from hiding their light under a bushel.
Don’t be Negative
It won’t get you very far. I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk about issues you have or challenge points that others make, but this is a page for you to promote your image as a performer. Do you think ‘friends’ (the three groups in point 1) want to hear the following:
- “I’m not getting booked” – you’re not likely to if you post this up on your FB. People start to wonder why and the off chance of a promoter seeing this post and suddenly booking you because they feel sorry for you is slim to none.
- Aggressive/Passive Aggressive statuses.
“People are so rude!”
“I can’t believe someone would copy my act idea.”
“Funny, I’ve heard that music before.”
“Some people are so up themselves.”
“I really love it when someone watches my act then steals my ideas.”
If you have an issue with another performer, get in touch with them and speak to them about it. They probably had no idea that they’ve upset you and you can sort it out between yourselves rather than publicly making yourself look like a bitch.
If someone is talking about how excellent they are and you’re annoyed by it, you should think about why you are. It’s a profile to promote themselves. You don’t like it, don’t look at it. If you feel like you need to vent speak to your trusted friends about it in a message or in person.
Negativity breeds negativity. If you’re feeling disillusioned with burlesque or if you’re going through a slump then I understand that you need to vent. I’ve been through it a few times in the six years I performed but think about your public image and think about it this way: if you worked for a business rather than yourself would you do it on your work profile for your possible employers to see? Is what you’re about to say professional? No? Then don’t say it so publicly.
Set up a Page
This could be the solution to all of your social media annoyances.
On a personal note, after Facebook helpfully deleted my account (as I wasn’t a real person or whatever they decided) and having had enough of the negative news feed I was seeing on a daily basis, I went with the option of setting up a page in 2009.
In my experience having a Facebook page rather than a performer profile was a godsend. I no longer had to look at life’s grumbles, I removed the negative people filling my feed with nonsense and I spent more time on my normal profile interacting with my ‘real life’ friends, non-burlesque and burlesque folk alike.
Here are some of the positives for moving from a profile to a page:
- You can manage your page from your normal profile so you won’t have to keep logging in and out between the two.
- You can receive messages to your page, just as you can to your profile.
- You can add apps (for example to your performance calendar or your Instagram feed).
- You can auto-post your FB page statuses to your Twitter account.
- You can link your blog up to auto-post to your Facebook page.
- You can have an unlimited amount of likes rather than a limited amount of friends.
- You can set your page to 18+ meaning you won’t get in trouble for anything deemed inappropriate on your profile that minors may have access to.
- You won’t be able to see profile feeds unless you friend people on your normal profile. Then again if you’re really close to people what’s the problem with doing this?
So next time, before you type, think.
I’m very interested in hearing people’s views on this, so please comment below with your thoughts.
Quoted in major international newspapers and held in high esteem and affection by the international burlesque community, 21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.