paul giamattiYou have probably heard the expression “screen presence” to refer to a particularly gifted actor or actress. It refers to a seemingly intangible set of attributes that add up to a total package that commands and compels attention on the big screen.

There are some secrets to this magic that you can use to improve your social media presence and deliver a command performance in your industry. But to understand how, you need to first understand what screen presence really is and what it isn’t.

Screen presence is not necessarily about good looks or the voice with the most resonant baritone. (They don’t hurt, but look at Danny DeVito or Paul Giamatti and you’ll know there is more to it than that). And confidence plays a part, but it is the confidence that comes from pulling it off (in other words, the confidence comes from the mastery). What really separates those who have it from those who don’t is the way they use small details of their body to send the message appropriate to their role.

Don’t believe it? Try turning the sound down on a movie you are watching and really study the hand gestures, facial expressions, and other detailed motions of the actors and actresses. You will see that probably around 75% to 80% of our grasp of a movie comes from what we see and not what we hear.

So if screen presence is really about mastering the details of the craft, then actors can learn it. It is not just one of those “either you are born with it or you are not” things. Being gifted helps, for sure, but those that study how to be compelling will soon pass the talented but lazy.

Okay, but what does that have to do with your social media efforts? Presence here is so important and it comes down to more than just what you are saying. It is how you deliver it, and the total attitude and tone set by your content.

If you’ll forgive the pun, this is your “screen” presence. Social media success is all about executing on the details and creating a positive, accurate picture no matter how large or small a screen your business finds itself on.

So what details do you need to master to make your “screen” presence demonstrate that you are a force in your market?

1. Each of your social media accounts should have a personality. The personality should be the right mix between your company’s online goals and the medium itself. You want to have a coherent message and presence, but the tone you take on Twitter will likely be different than on LinkedIn. Also, measurements of ROI and success will vary between the different accounts.

2. Borrow creatively (and ethically). Stealing content is an obvious no-no and why would you anyway? But you should notice very carefully what others who are successful on social media are doing. Are their headlines better? What makes them better? Do their profiles blow you away? What are the techniques they use? Just like a young actress who looks to an established veteran for the details that work, you should be looking to others for what works.

3. Dig deeper into your content strategy. If your business has a blog (and I hope it does!), are you being strategic and consistent in how you are executing it? Regular postings at least once a week sends the right kind of message, while haphazard postings at random intervals create a bad screen presence. Similarly, the content itself shows either a respect for your reader and their time or… well, they might be walking out of your movie theater!

Every business needs to make a choice. Will you be the social media action hero of your market, or the forgotten extra who doesn’t even make it into the credits?

Tell me what you think: What are some of the people and businesses that have great “screen” presence on social media? What are the characteristics that work?