Social media can be an effective, low cost way to get your message out to audiences. Done well, you can build credibility and encourage ticket sales. Done poorly, you'll likely release your season to crickets. So how do you use social media effectively? You need to share a variety of content that entertains, educates and inspires your audience to want to hang around.
Don't just advertise your show.
Take a look at your theatre company's social media channels. Are they a wonderful blend of stories, personality, inspiration and good humour, or do they look like an advertising presentation?
A good way to get an eye opening (and honest) view of your social output, is to click on your Facebook 'photos' section. You'll get a full screen of all your photos in posting order, just like an Instagram feed. What ratio of images are promotional? If it's more than 20%, you're running the risk of losing your audience.
The first step is to accept that, whilst it feels counter intuitive, you have to stop advertising and start building relationships if you're going to make social media effective for your creative career. Social media platforms are, first and foremost, ‘social networks'. Audience expectations are for social, valuable and entertaining interactions. They will switch you off if all they get is needy, promotional content.
As a theatre creative, social media works when you use it as a loudspeaker to the world, sharing your personality, values and adding value to your community.
It helps you -
Stay at the top of your audience's minds.
It can even work to build your profile and reputation as the go to person in your field of expertise.
Create interest in your theatre season.
Think of your social media channels as online versions of the conversations you have at a social event. You wouldn't walk up to a group of strangers and start telling them they should buy tickets to your shows. You'd let them get to know you first; get to like and trust you.
1. Build credibility and influence
Subscribe to and follow industry news platforms so that you can be one of the first to share announcements of news important to the creative industry you're in. This gets you noticed by other industry influencers.
Share your expertise
Be generous in sharing your knowledge and skill with your audience. By creating and sharing valuable content, you build respect and credibility with your peers and the press. Audiences begin to see you as a true professional.
Awards and recognitions
Ever so occasionally, share awards and recognitions that your theatre company has received. You'd certainly include these in the about section of your facebook page or in your digital media pack.
Chat with creatives
Get onto live videos on your social channels and have a chat with the production creatives and cast. For goodness sake, keep it unpretentious and real. Don't go all newscaster. Just relax, have a laugh but ask some seriously interesting questions.
Make sure you keep a copy afterwards, add caption and repost to your social feeds. Cut it up and use it in your stories. There are so many ways to use video interviews.
2. Build relationships
Give them backstage access
This can be literally or just a look behind the scenes of what it looks like to create a piece of theatre, rehearse a show or design a set. You have so many stories within your theatre project, stories that you take for granted because they seem so ordinary to you. They aren't ordinary to your general audience. They love to see what goes on behind the scenes. Let them in a little.
Show your sense of humour
An overly polished social media presence will not build relationship with your audiences. Be strategic, but share your personality, have a laugh, and don't take yourself too seriously. This sort of content is fantastic in your Instagram and Facebook stories, especially when you're developing your confidence with what to share.
We love to see faces
Photos of people get the best organic engagement on social media. We love them. Photos of you with other creatives in the project, audience members, business supporters, your stage manager taking a break during tech run. Big smiles, close up faces - we love these.
Find your place in the community
Often an overlooked element of a theatre company's marketing strategy, is building connection within their local community. Even if you're touring a show, you're in a community for a period of time. Share a great local venues, cafes, public places. Tag their own social media profiles and give them a shout out.
Avoid the pithy, but a great inspirational quote can have quite an impact. I find it useful to save ones that hit me with the feels when I see them. By building up a library of great quotes, it avoids posting a cliche just because 'today is quote day' in your content calendar.
Links to interesting stuff
Be aware that link posts in facebook don't get much traction but a great meme can be lots of fun to include in your stategy. Keep it relevant and include your response to it in the caption.
3. Speak up for yourself
When audiences go nuts for your show, share that stuff but don't just share a link to the review itself. Create posts with amazing performance photographs with short and punchy quotes from the review, with the reviewers name and publication as a tagline underneath it. No formal reviews? Don't discount gathering reviews from audience members on the night. Ask a few audience members for a review and permission to use it online and include their name. Personal recommendations are gold.
Share a little history
Revisit a show from a previous season. Choose a few of the best performance photos and share a favourite memory from the production. It's interesting and expands your audience's understanding of your performance history.
Showcase your work
If you have the resources, create a showcase video that tells a brief version of your story. Keep it short, concise and interesting. You want to create a visual story of your journey, the people you impact, the joy of involvement or attendance at your shows. Share it occasionally throughout the year.
Want to talk more about how to integrate social media into your marketing strategy? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my website at sherrylleesecomb.com