Voice-over Communities on Social Media: Asking the Right Questions First

The voice acting industry has never been more accessible than it is today. Quality gear is cheaper than ever, the industry is thirsty for non-traditional, or “real” voices and, in spite of current woes,  the voice-over industry is growing significantly. What’s more, the internet has blown the doors open for new and experienced talent alike to connect and grow in new ways.

One of the most popular ways to connect is by joining social media groups created specifically for voice actors. You can find these groups on almost any social media platform and joining is often quick and easy. These groups normally feature a healthy mix of individuals from different stages in the industry – ranging from hobbyist, to intermediate professional, to prolific full-timer – all exchanging ideas, cautions, and even golden nuggets of tried and true wisdom. voiceover commun

Unfortunately, this ease of access to communities comes with a few caveats, such as unqualified individuals distributing information, too much information, or manipulative information. This makes proceeding with caution paramount. 

In this blog, we’re going to review three questions to ask yourself when determining whether to jump into your nearest social media group. 

“Who’s at the party?”

One of the first questions to ask yourself when considering joining any group is “Who is at the party?” More specifically, are the people running or participating in the group trustworthy? The real deal? Unfortunately it takes precisely zero qualifications to form a social media group, or share information, short of the ability to do so. 

Determining trustworthiness will require some research on your part. Start by digging into the administrator of the group, as this individual will often be indicative of the quality of the group at large. Who are they? What is their experience in the industry? Can that experience be verified? Then, take a look at some of the most active members within the group, and ask yourself the same questions. 

Most voice actors have a website, a list of clients and, most importantly, public examples of their work to back these claims up. Most voice directors have a strong presence within the community, and should be known to others outside of the group. Research these actors, voice directors or others by name (most will have their name online and SEO should guide you to their professional website). If evidence of their experience and skills is lacking or extremely difficult to locate, that’s a huge red flag. If you can find it in abundance, that’s a good sign that your exchanges with these peers can be fruitful. 

“Am I in the right place?”

Once you’ve verified trustworthiness, it’s time to refine your search further. Be honest with yourself about who you are and what you’re looking for. Consider your own experience, and your short and long-term goals. Once you’ve hashed these details out, compare yourself to the goals and demographics of the group. 

Most social media groups will have a mission statement, or some other letter of intent which describes the purpose and goals of the group. Does this line up with your goals? If it does – great! If not, step back and take a look at the bigger picture. 

If your goal is specifically to improve your marketing skills, for example, joining a group that is laser-focused on doing just that is a great idea. If your goal is instead to improve your performance skills, it may not be. Similarly, if you’re just getting started in voice-over, joining a group that is focused on helping to cultivate new talents could be just what you need, but joining a group dedicated to growing existing businesses may end up drowning you with information that you can’t yet apply and might be overwhelming.

“Do I have to buy that?”

You’ve found a group with legitimate, experienced peers whose goals are in line with your own – congratulations! Don’t let your guard down yet though. 

Unfortunately, not every social media group is created with altruistic intentions. Many are instead formed under the pretense of helping for the sake of helping, but are in truth a type of sales funnel to a particular product or service. 

As a disclaimer, it’s not under-handed or evil for a group administrator or other affiliated person to share a paid product or service within the group. That product or service may very well be a legitimately effective solution to a question asked. But we have to be honest here: running a group dedicated to a particular aspect of voice-over for which an admin sells paid services does present a type of conflict that should remain top-of-mind as you navigate the group.

The presence of paid services as solutions within a group does not disqualify that group from being a helpful source of information. That said, if the group admin attempted to hide this information when you joined, or if the admin’s paid solutions make up the vast majority of answers to questions within the group, it would behoove you to keep a grain of salt handy at all times.

In short, social media groups can be an amazing resource to help you get started in voice-over, or continue to grow a thriving business, but it pays to ask questions first and shoot later. While many groups you come across are filled with experienced, genuinely helpful peers, everything is not always as it seems. 

Be hopeful, be smart, and be successful. I hope these questions will aid in finding the perfect community for you!

Looking for more community? Check out this article from Caroline Cole on Community for Freelancers!

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