Some Daytime actors are all over Twitter, while others avoid social media like Heather Webber and the proper medication.
But Terri Ivens – with 42,500 Twitter followers and climbing – has this crazy thing figured out. So let’s ask the little soap birdie (Simone, All My Children; Kassandra, Tainted Dreams) how she did it.
Carolyn: Tell me about your first day on Twitter.
Terri: Unfortunately, my first day on Twitter was the day All My Children was canceled [April 14, 2011]. I was like, “Okay, this is an omen.” AMC was a huge trending topic for weeks, so people could find me really easily. I just typed “#AMC” and poured my heart out about the show. On the coattails of that, I did this Sci-Fi show called Piranhaconda so I got all these Sci-Fi people following me. They are just as crazy as soapers!
Carolyn: How did you grow your numbers so fast?
Terri: I came up with my own Twitter remedy for this gigantic beast we’ve created. I tweet in threes.
Carolyn: What do you mean?
Terri: If I was writing about AMC, I’d tweet at Alicia Minshew [Kendall] and Rebecca Budig [Greenlee] and we would talk about the show. Fans could see what we were saying and be “in the know.” We’d get people to retweet and favorite [our comments] and then other people would follow us. Everyone wants a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.
Carolyn: So you shared info with fans, and had fun with your friends doing it.
Terri: Exactly. I’ve helped a lot of friends start Twitter accounts. I tell them all to tweet in threes. Two people is not as strong. For me, it was like, “How can I grab a piece of this pie and make it work for me?” I got on Twitter when AMC was ending, I had a movie coming out, and I was launching a radio show. It’s called “Going to Bed with Terri Ivens” – the title is the most risqué part of the show! I had Twitter and Facebook up, so the engine was running. You have to do all that before you launch a project or you’ll be behind. Create an account, put your tweets in threes – make one personal and one business – and it’s a surefire way to spread the wealth of your following with others.
Carolyn: Explain business tweets.
Terri: I made a comment last month saying I couldn’t decide what to drink, a 31 Flavors shake [@BaskinRobbins] or Starbucks Caramel Macchiato [@Starbucks]? They both retweeted me. Starbucks has 5 million followers and 31 Flavors has 90,000. So I built followers just deciding what I want to drink.
Carolyn: That’s really smart, but I’m not sure the average person with 400 followers would get a retweet on that.
Terri: You never know. When it does hit, fireworks go off. Not every tweet hits. Unlike Facebook, which lingers, Twitter is there for a second. If you’re lucky, you get an hour out of it. And you can’t tweet too much or your followers get too many notifications. They’ll say, ‘I don’t care about that” and unfollow you.
Carolyn: Do you understand actors who aren’t on social media?
Terri: Yes. I had Mikey E. Knight [Tad, AMC] on my radio show and all the fans were tweeting me questions for him. They miss him so bad, but he stays away from social media. He told me, “I’m so afraid of saying something I can’t retract.” So you come on a live radio show [laughs]? It’s the same thing with Toasty [Thorsten Kaye, ex-Zach, now B&B’s Ridge]. They are very quick-witted and shoot from the hip. They’ve gotten burned before, so it’s safer to stay away.
Carolyn: What advice do you have for actors who get in trouble?
Terri: If you take a few moments to breathe before you push “send,” you can vent a lot of hostilities and no one has to read it. Take a breath before you write, “Take that, you bitch!” That goes for fans, too. They don’t realize that they’re shooting themselves in the foot if they only use their power to complain. Before AMC went down, they had nothing good to say about the show. If you love something, you have to watch it and show some kind of loyalty. That’s the biggest difference between soap fans and Sci-Fi fans. The soapers say, “I can’t stand this!” with nothing positive. If they would just hashtag something like #LoveMySoap, that would tell the execs reading it that they’re still invested. Complain all you want, but leave it with a positive tag. If you search Sci-Fi original movies like Sharktopus, fans love it AND they love to pan it. They have live tweeting sessions when the shows air. I’ve had people who weren’t necessarily my fans write, “The acting on Piranhaconda is the worst” and I’ll chime in and say “All but that one girl #ImaHero.” All of a sudden they’re tweeting, “OMG you’re great!” Find the positive.
Carolyn: Give me some examples of the pros and cons of Twitter.
Terri: I follow Nancy Lee Grahn [Alexis, GH]. She’s a great example of a sharp shooter. She’ll tweet that her sister is taking her phone away until she puts the glass of wine down and I will crack up laughing. She writes about GH but she’ll also grandstand about important issues having nothing to do with her career. The con is that you can piss a lot of people off with your opinion so there can be a backlash. But I think that’s okay. There’s an old rule in entertainment: As long as people are talking about you, it’s good. If you’re on Twitter and your last tweet was in September, 2012, it’s not behooving you to be on Twitter. You have to be somewhat active.
Carolyn: What do you think about actors who hire people to run their Twitter accounts?
Terri: One of my best friends, who I’ve worked with for years, doesn’t do her own account. People group us together, but it’s not her responding. It’s some random president of her fan club. The president doesn’t have the knowledge of what’s going on, so it’s less effective.
Carolyn: Is that a con because she’s not running her own site?
Terri: I think so. But it’s also a pro, because she doesn’t have to see when people say bad things about her. Most people don’t have a clue it’s not her. If you want a big following, you have to tweet for yourself. Those celebrities with millions of followers? It’s really them. P!nk, Katy Perry… it’s really them. They’re too crass not to be the actual person – if it was a figurehead, they’d fire them. They’ll say something ridiculous and get a thousand retweets. You see them talk to their friends on Twitter and support each other. That’s what Twitter is there for, to give fans a glimpse into their private world. Nobody wants to read tweets just for publicity.
Carolyn: Do you think soap execs should be on Twitter?
Terri: I do. They could get a pulse of what their following wants to see. If they were active, they could control it in positive way, make people tune in and watch.
Carolyn: GH’s Ron Carlivati is the only head writer on Twitter, and sometimes fans really hammer him. They can be really unfair because they react in the moment to what happened today, instead of waiting for the story to play out and then judging it. They also write “All fans think this,” and “All fans think that” which is absurd. There is NOTHING that all GH fans would agree on. For every fan who writes “Where’s Liz?” there’s another one writing “Liz is boring.” I give him a lot of credit because it must be hurtful sometimes – and he’s the only head writer with the guts to do it.
Terri: I agree. I think if Ron tweeted in threes, he wouldn’t feel hurt. Like, if he tweeted at the sponsor and at you, or at a GH actor and Michael Logan.
Carolyn: What do you mean at a sponsor?
Terri: Like, “I wonder if @NancyLeeGrahn smells like @Dove when she’s leaning in on @WilliamDeVry1. #GH #TuneIn.” Coming from the head writer, that’s four: him, two actors and a sponsor. Ron’s creativity makes it personal, and Dove makes it business. He could say, “Alexis is going to kiss so-and-so,” and fans would go “Oh.” But Dove will go “OH.” See?
Carolyn: That’s really smart. Have you had a negative experience with Twitter?
Terri: Everybody has had a negative experience, which is why people get gun shy. My most negative are the personal attacks. When I searched Piranhaconda it was all, “This is the biggest piece of crap.” Is that mean? Definitely. But I choose to control it. When it’s on, I will be part of a live tweet and form a big conversation; make it lighthearted and fun. It started out with my feelings being hurt – Don’t laugh at me, laugh with me! – but I turned it around. To be honest, I don’t know if I would have said yes to the job if I had known most of my female co-stars were porn stars. All I knew was that I got to work opposite Michael Madsen and spend a month on Kauai. Then it was, “Oh my God, 35 takes for Miss August Bimbo? I’m going to die [laughs].”
Carolyn: So in the end, is it better for an actor to not be on, or to have someone tweeting for them?
Terri: That’s a great question. As much as I don’t like an imposter tweeting for you, I think that’s better than no presence at all. I would just suggest that you be involved, even if you’re not pushing the button yourself. Why be there if you’re not going to play?!