Social media is a cost effective part of your theatre company's marketing strategy but it takes an enormous amount of quality content to make it work as well as you need it to. So how do you make sure you have enough relevant content? You 'document' the project and build a content library.
Don't make this mistake.
If you're still creating original content for your socials as you go, you will never keep up and you'll end up in one of these two positions -
️1. You'll make the mistake of posting crap content just to get something online; or
2. You won't post often enough to even show up in feeds or build relationships with your audience.
Creating relevant, quality content for your theatre company's social media accounts is like feeding the plant from "Little Shop of Horrors" - it's insatiable. You never have enough. There's no variety in your feed and you end up advertising all the time. Audience's cease checking you out because it's boring.
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.
You do this by sharing photos and videos of your process - rehearsals, behind the scenes, table reads, costume fittings, meetings, everything. What we take for granted is interesting to your audiences. They love to feel like they're getting a glimpse behind the scenes and getting to know you all.
But to do this, you have to have content ALL. THE. TIME. I learned long ago that the secret was to change my behaviour during the project. I became that person who hung around the edges, capturing the adventure of development, rehearsals, life and creativity. The magic happened when I learned to create a content library; to 'bank' everything I captured and file it away for use later on. This approach changed everything.
Suddenly I had enough quality content to satisfy my social media strategy of always inspiring, entertaining and educating the audience of any theatre company I was working with. I was able to build a team of content gatherers and give them creative freedom to capture the stories they saw through their camera lens. I didn't have to micro manage and I could plan and schedule my content.
1. Change your habits
Capture everything on your phone
Get into the habit of taking photos and videos on your phone, of the development of the project. If you're good with a DSLR, you can use that as well. The point of using your phone is that it's always with you.
You're developing the habit of 'visually documenting' the project's development and sharing the story with your audience. They want to feel like they're sharing your journey with you. Moments like your first table read, rehearsals, costume fittings, even the post rehearsal Macca's run is fun when shared the right way. To you it's just run of the mill stuff. To your audience, it's interesting and new.
Ignore the voice that tells you it's stupid
Depending on your comfort levels, you may feel a little silly at first but ignore the voice that says 'this is stupid' and keep going. Eventually, it will get easier and your proficiency will grow. For instance, it's not in my nature to take photos of everything. I had to learn to become comfortable with it. It was the continued action of taking photos and videos like this that made me more comfortable AND allowed me to learn what stories to capture and share.
Set yourself a challenge
You may find it helpful to challenge yourself to create one piece of content daily. This helps you develop the habit. It will gradually happen more naturally and you’ll begin to see content opportunities everywhere.
2. What to put in your content library
Photos. Lots of photos
Photos can tell so many stories. Make them super useful by capturing plenty of landscape and portrait formats. You frame the photo content differently depending on whether you're shooting for stories or full width. Make sure you have a variety to choose from later on.
Shoot in colour
Make sure that your raw photos are original colour (no filters) and shot in relatively high resolution. This way, you always have the option to use them for print or to send to a journalist with a story pitch (they want colour and high res). You can always edit the photo for black and white if you want and you can certainly reduce the size of the file easily for online use. It's about options.
Make video a priority
Video is a must if you're growing your social media organically. Studies show that social media views are the highest on video. Best of all, you don't have to have professionally produced videos to make it work in your marketing strategy. If you don't have editing facilities then just use it spontaneously in your Instagram and Facebook stories feature. Just like photos, capture snippets in portrait (stories) and landscape for editing freedom later on.
Show us your face
You will find that photos of people, faces, will always get much better organic reach than anything else you post. That's because we want to connect. Make sure you capture the stories of the people in your theatre company, audience members, etc and share them within your social media strategy. Tell me their story. Share the joy of what you do by sharing people smiling and enjoying their creativity.
Remember to get off the stage
Your theatre company is full of creative people off the stage and behind the scenes. Share their stories. Capture photos and video of them at work. Let them enjoy their moment in the spotlight, sharing their part of the creative project with your audience.
Actors are real people
Outside the rehearsal space is where you can build connection with your audience. Capture photos of the cast enjoying a coffee while they chat about the project; the relaxed team at Maccas after rehearsal. What about a photo of you wiggling your toes in the sand during a day of relaxation at the beach. This content creates variety for your audience.
Remember, you're not perfect
Avoid the need to present everything as absolutely perfect, or that you never face any challenges during the development of the project. Your audience knows this isn't true and strategically sharing these challenges can build strong relationship ties with your audience. It might be a photo of cast cracking up during a rehearsal, locked out of a rehearsal space, or the awkward moments of a photoshoot. This sort of content makes you real, approachable and human.
3. Extra tricks that I've learned
Don't edit yourself
Here's the biggest trick to building your content library. Do NOT edit anything as you go. Just take it and 'bank' it. You don't even have to know how you'll use it yet. Just add it to your content library. If you edit as you go, you tend to shut down the creative process.
You are creating a RAW content library. Nothing will go out into the world as it is. You'll edit everything later, so don't worry about bloopers. Just bank it. Besides, bloopers can be super valuable content to show your theatre company's personality on social media.
Ideas for written content
I have the Evernote app synced between my phone and laptop. When a great idea for written content comes to me, I record it in my Evernote file straight away. I may not use it for weeks but if I don’t ‘bank’ the idea when it hits me, I will have forgotten it the next day. Great ideas tend to come to me when I'm out of my office, walking, sitting in the park, at rest, so the mobile app is really helpful and, syncing it to my laptop, makes retrieval easy.
Store everything digitally online
Regularly transfer (bank) all these images and video snippets to an online storage platform linked to your phone and synced to your desktop (dropbox or google drive are perfect). This is your content library. Set up a system of folders that make sense to you so everything is easily accessed later on. This is especially important if you have a team of people capturing content. This system would need a folder for each photographer so you can correctly credit them in when you use the photo or video content.
By having everything accessible online, I can create a post, send a journalist a photo or share photos at a meeting, regardless of whether I'm at a rehearsal, a meeting, or my office. I've built my business this way - as long as I have my laptop and phone with me, I can run my business from any rehearsal space, cafe or office.
Banking your content and developing an online content library is wonderfully freeing. You don’t have to know how you’ll use the content when you’re creating it, leaving you to just play and release your inner creative. Marketing a theatre project, company or career is a lot more fun when you work with effective systems and tools.
Want to talk more about how to be more productive as your theatre company's marketing manager? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my website at sherrylleesecomb.com