Over-Promoting on Social Media

If you read my last post, you are already aware that I launched a podcast as a part of the brand new Premier Dance Network. Since that launch, I have had some very exciting things happen. At this very moment, Pas de Chat: Talking Dance is listed as "New & Noteworthy" on the iTunes charts ranking #49 in Arts and #63 in Business. We have had a few hundred downloads and I am really, Really, REALLY excited about it! Of course, I am happy to share this excitement (and continue promoting) on my social media networks; which range from Facebook (my most heavily used) to Instagram (next down the list) to Twitter (my least favorite). And, initially, I saw a mirror-reflection of my excitement in the number of likes, loves, and comments on my accumulating podcast postings. Then, perhaps, the most exciting thing of my launch week happened. Dance Magazine wrote up an article about both my podcast and my sister podcasts (which even included an image of me dancing). In my thrill and happiness, I shared this, too. As I sat back waiting for the scroll of likes to appear on the locked screen of my iPhone, nothing happened. A few minutes passed and making the assumption that there must be something wrong with my connectivity, I opened my screen and tapped on that trusty blue "F" app to see how many notifications I had. None. And nearly 24 hours since I posted, 6 likes. What happened?

I am no stranger to the string of events that happened yesterday. Each time that I have launched a new project (like this blog), I have to remind myself that there is a fine-line between sharing something exciting, using social media as a tool for promotion, and over-saturating my feed with excessive impersonal, promotional content. I have gotten pretty good at the wildly obscure balancing act that is engaging social media. But even experts like myself can fall victim to the circumstances they study and understand.

When I first started using social media back in the days of Myspace, these self-producing content systems seemed like the next best thing to living in the same house with all of your friends, old and new. It was engaging, quick, and direct. And being an artist at the young age of 21, who had lived in 5 states in 5 years as I finished out my training, it was a great way to stay in touch with my peers who also scattered across the country to pursue their passion and art. Once I got spammed off of Myspace and opened the pages of Facebook, I felt that it became even more personal. At one point, I remember watching the news and listening to a story about how social media was beginning to be used as a marketing tool for certain target markets. I remember turning to my Danya and saying, "I can't imagine Facebook becoming one giant commercial." Well, those days have arrived and passed. And for the most part, it is us every day people creating those commercials.

Today, most social media sites share two things. The, sometimes, facade of a personal connecting of people with people and the reality of providing a platform for free (or inexpensive), personalized marketing. Content is most often curated based on complex, mathematic algorithms. We are no longer connected to others and their content completely by choice, but instead see friends content strained through a network of computers that make complex, programmed decisions. Manipulating this system into thinking that we were completely in charge of what was coming to us, opened up the doors for users to see carefully curated content and marketing. Whether promoting a cause, spreading awareness of an ill friend's GoFundMe, or kick-starting a brilliant entrepreneurial idea, people started noticing that they could use social media sites to promote most anything.

I never wanted to use these web sites and apps to promote an idea, a product, or even myself. But then I found myself suddenly without a job and needed to make things work quickly. Once I came up with the idea for this blog, I reluctantly began posting my writings in my feed. I remember the first day that I introduced Life of a Freelance Dancer, I didn't have as much of a following as I do today and my posting received a small amount of excitement and attention. Over the next week, I posted about this new creation of mine, multiple times. And slowly, but surely, people that once seemed quite engaged in my daily musings became disinterested. At one point, I remember posting, "I promise that this is the last time I will promote my new blog this week, but you should check it out," and seeing a friend comment, "Oh, Thank God!" I had a feeling that I was over-promoting, but at that point I knew for sure.

What is one to do when they have a great new project and they want to garnish excitement or support from their friends, family, peers, and acquaintances? By all means, don't be afraid to promote on all of your social media channels. But remain keenly in tune with the response that you get from your networks. If your first post gets 30 likes and a handful of comments, maybe give it a day or two before posting again. If you see the number of responses declining rapidly, even to your regular, non-promotional updates, you are likely posting too often about your project. If you find that you have overreached your friend's promotional limits, step away from sharing for a few days and get back to posting personal content. Remember, like me, most of us first joined these social media networks to connect with our friends. Get back to the basics and remind your friends that they are connecting with a person, and not a business or salesman/saleswoman.

My Instagram Feed
There is no set guideline on how to promote different projects or causes that you are a part of on social media. The challenge of using these apps and networks is that you have to constantly remain aware of the reaction you are getting on your feed. Spikes in excitement don't last for long. But if you notice that the volume of likes, comments, clicks, shares, etc., that you usually get begin to fade to silence, reconsider how you are approaching your marketing and promotional techniques. Remember, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and beyond were first and foremost created to connect people to people. If you forget this idea, you may lose one of the greatest sources of support and excitement for your art, work, and self. Your Friends. While you may get a financial or career reward out of it, your dividends in friendship may take a hit. So, don't make the same mistake as I did this past week in a blind leap of excitement. Follow my simple rule for social media success. Post. Pause. Post Again. Happy social media-ing and good luck on using these amazing networks to help you reach your goals and greatest successes!


"Pas de Chat: Talking Dance" launches on Itunes

It is with incredible excitement that I share this news with you. Over the past few months, I have been working with a producer to create my very own podcast as a part of a new and first-of-its-kind network featuring dance. Pas de Chat: Talking Dance launches TODAY on itunes as a part of the Premier Dance Network. Listen in every Friday for a weekly conversation on all aspects of the professional dance world. We will be releasing 6 episodes over the next week or so as a part of our launch here (http://balancing-pointe.com/pas-de-chat-podcast/). Also, be sure to Subscribe on iTunes, rate, comment, and download our episodes by clicking here!

As host of this podcast, I will candidly share my experiences and thoughts on the workings of the dance world as I travel the globe creating ballets, teaching future generations of dancers, and performing for audiences. This podcast will premiere alongside Kimberly Falker's Balancing Pointe, Megan Fairchild's Ask Megan, and the young aspirant dancer's Becoming Ballet (currently listed as New & Noteworthy on Itunes) podcasts on the Premier Dance Network.

I just want to take a moment to give all of you, my readers, a special SHOUT OUT and a huge thank you for supporting me and reading Life of a Freelance Dancer over the past 4 years as I have shared my experiences, knowledge, and insight that I have gained throughout my dance career. Through your interest, viewership, and support, I was featured in Dance Magazine this past February alongside New York City Ballet Principal Megan Fairchild and her podcast. After reading this article, Premier Dance Network producer Kimberly Falker reached out to me seeking my insight and voice for a new show on her channel. From there, we started the process of producing Pas de Chat: Talking Dance. This podcast will not be replacing my work here at Life of a Freelance Dancer. Instead, it offers me a new platform to talk about a broader set of topics relating to dance and to gain greater exposure for myself, this blog, and the art form of dance. You will still have plenty to read on here!

Now, after months of preparation, this podcast is available for free on iTunes and on the Premier Dance Networks website (official site to come soon). You can listen to the first episode NOW by clicking on this link here! Enjoy!


I'm a Modern Day Gypsy

Typical moment in the life of a Modern Day Gypsy
Nearly two weeks ago, about an hour after midnight, I laid my head to rest at my Washington Heights sublet. It was snowing again, which wasn’t shocking considering the timing of my past four Bolt Bus trips back home to Philadelphia and how they each coincided with some type of snow event. When I left the apartment scurrying amongst flurries the next morning, I knew that had been my last night in this ultra-Spanish neighborhood that was the inspiration for the Broadway musical, “In The Heights.” When I returned from Philly a week later, I’d be laying to rest on my friend’s couch in the refined gayborhood of Chelsea. After my fourth night there, I left this afternoon to embark on a weekend trip to Los Angeles to celebrate the life of my great friend and benefactor, Mimi Chiang. It may end, though, with me sleeping at the airport. My first flight was cancelled and my re-booked flight officially has me listed on standby. When I lay down to rest (hopefully tonight) in the Pacific Palisades, my mind may drift in and out of strategic problem solving to determine where I’ll stay when I return. Trying to find a short-term sublet in New York City is a difficult task. It’s been a stressful search, but I’ll just deal with it when I have a free moment. I know your first thought, “Gosh…I’d be utterly panicked right now!” Oh, I’m getting there. But a modern day gypsy must live for adventure.

Back when I first moved to Philadelphia in June of 2011, I met a peer and colleague whom I had known of since competing against him in the first two years of the international youth ballet competition, Youth America Grand Prix (circa 2000). Robert Colby Damon, or Colby, had been working as a freelance artist for a few years by that point. I knew, with my 22-week contract, that I’d have to endure a small amount of freelancing work. But I had no idea what I was truly in for. Colby and I used to talk about his couch-surfing habits and his fly by the seat of his pants housing situations. I probably sat talking to him, mouth agape, trying to comprehend how he lived like this. Little did I know, that I was about to fly through my own crash course in modern day gypsy-ism.

My First Gypsy Bed in NYC
I didn’t start off living this crazy, nationally-touring freelance lifestyle at such a fast clip. My first stay in somebody else’s home was in New York City for 3 weeks when I performed at the Guggenheim. It was nearly 3 months that I slept in my own bed after that. Then, I spent 5 weeks residing with a host family in Anchorage. Once I lost my contract with Ballet X, things picked up at an almost frenzied pace. 1 week on Long Island, 3 weeks in Providence, 1 week in New Hampshire. Dancing a summer gig in Philadelphia was a nice respite from what was about to come. Within 2 years, I would see Rochester twice, Myrtle Beach, Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, San Francisco (twice), Walnut Creek, Los Angeles (too many times to count), Anchorage (again and again), Indiana, and more and more and more. Aside from 5 months at home at the beginning of 2015, I haven’t stayed put for more than a few weeks for over 4 years.

My Washington Heights Sublet & My Weekly Packing Ritual
What does it feel like to travel as much as I do? It requires a certain sense of adventure and freedom from expectation. It necessitates one to go with the flow. Oddly enough, I find myself micromanaging my life when I return home to my apartment in Philadelphia. Likely because I finally feel like I can control my environment. When people meet me in gypsy-mode, they often comment that I am so laid back. Instead of plastering on this facade, I learned that it is just easier to submit to the uncertainty and confusion that can come from changing things up on the regular.

One thing that a lot of people wonder is how I cope with the irregularity of this lifestyle. Honestly, sometimes, I don’t. Sometimes, I ignore my own needs and keep pressing forth to create my art and pay my bills. This is a bad way to deal with things. And as I learned back in 2014, it can lead to severe, nearly-crippling burn out. What I have found that helps is to acclimate fast, find what comforts you absolutely require, and to stay connected with people in your life in order to maintain some semblance of normalcy.

Seen on my acclimation walk in Richmond, VA
To acclimate myself to a new situation, If time allows, I will always go for an extremely long walk (or drive if that is available) around the neighborhood that I am living in. Knowing where food, drink, and toiletry options are helps a lot. Do keep in mind that you will likely spend more money the first few days, as you won’t know what stores in neighborhoods provide the best deals. When I first began subletting in the Heights, I paid nearly $5 for one of my favorite snacks when the grocery store a block away sold it for $2 less. It’s essentially the equivalent to moving your entire apartment and adjusting to that new neighborhood, only every couple of days or weeks.

As for comforts, I know I’m a fully-grown man, but I travel and sleep with a little stuffed animal that my partner gave me as a gift the first year that I started traveling for work. I haven’t slept with a stuffed animal since I was a little kid. But the discomfort of sleeping somewhere foreign and having an empty bed makes this more comforting than you could imagine. Or in another case, if your morning routine requires coffee (like mine, and lots of it), if coffee isn’t readily available, buy some instant coffee. No matter how poor the quality of the brew, it will be comforting to know it is still somewhat within your control.

Lastly, be sure to keep communication lines open with friends and family. One of my biggest challenges, as my workload involves a great deal of in-studio and out of studio effort, is to make contact with those that I love and who love me back. Text messages don't always feel extremely personal. I like to use chat apps (like Facebook messenger), phone calls, or Facetime/Skype calls to have a full conversation versus broken apart text chats that may span days. I feel it is important for any gypsy to be surrounded by people they know beyond acquaintances on a regular basis, even if not in person. At times, I have felt like I was losing sense of who I was before I started freelancing. I used to have a group of friends and co-workers that would joke, tease, and laugh with (and sometimes at) me. Whether they were lovingly pointing out my flaws or supporting me in an unnecessary moment of distress, I always knew who I was as I saw my reflection in their attention. I lost this for some time as I became too focused on my work. So, be sure to note the factors that bring normalcy into your life and try to keep them with you on the fly.

Sometimes, I wish that I never knew what it felt like to be a gypsy. And part of the reason that I am residentially floating around New York City is to find a place to call my career-home. It’s both emotionally and physically exhausting. But at the same time, I find myself constantly peering back into history at my 15 year old self and imagining what he would think if somebody told him this would be his life one day. It’s fascinating and horrifying. Exciting and nerve-wracking. I don’t have long flowing garb or dangly earrings. I’m not quick-witted or sassy. I’m a 5’ 10’’ Jewish gay white boy who wears the same clothes that everybody else does. Yet, it wouldn’t be odd for you to see me pass you by with a carry-on sized piece of luggage dragging behind me. My name is Barry Kerollis and I am a modern day gypsy.

Living that Gypsy Life