How Do We Market Ourselves In The Arts? – Part 2
Luke John Emmett
OnStage United Kingdom Columnist
Welcome to the second article in this series. In the first one (view it here) we looked at the basics of press releases and some hints and tips on Social Media.
In this article I’m going to share a few more hints and tips that I’ve picked up along the way and I hope they will prove useful to you.
Twitter vs Facebook
I’m always asked the question: “Which is the most effective Social Media platform to use?” and in all honesty there is not a simple and quick answer to that. It depends on a lot of variables such as:
- What are you sharing? Is it an article, link to buy tickets, a funny photos, rehearsal pictures, a job advert?
- Who are your target audience?
- How many people do you want to reach with your post?
- How much do you want them to engage with it?
And there are probably at least another ten potential questions you can add to that. A lot of it really is trial and error but here are a few tips from my own experience:
- Great for short concise bits of information that get a message across in a succinct way.
- Sharing images works well and generates a lot of retweets.
- Good for engaging with other users and getting content shared (retweeted).
- Great for getting quick answers or responses from people.
- The average life of a tweet is roughly 30 seconds – for that reason some people can miss what you post. That is why you sometimes see accounts tweeting the same thing at different times of the day. This helps increase the engagement of what you tweet.
- Great for posting more in-depth information.
- You can make posts look exciting by displaying multiple images and if you’re clever can design one image split into several to advantage of their new advertising displays.
- Easy to boost posts to reach certain audiences.
- Great to set up events and share content with others.
- Audiences can be limited thanks to Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms – without guidance it can be hard to reach the people you want to reach (more tips on that to follow).
Some of the basics:
Do not link Facebook and Twitter accounts together. You may think it will save you time but it’s incredibly lazy and looks incredibly messy. When you allow Facebook to post to Twitter you inevitably have more than 130 characters and it looks terrible on your Twitter news feed when you see half a Facebook post displayed with a link to your Facebook page. Yes a majority of people are on Twitter and Facebook now but they tend to use both for very different things and keep them separate. Getting people to follow you on Facebook from Twitter can be difficult and vice-versa.
From the opposite side of that don’t post from Twitter to Facebook. You end up with short posts when you can say more and any @ mentions you use will also show up on your Facebook feed and drive everyone crazy.
Tailor your posts for each and spend a bit of time getting them to look nice. If you want to publish the same post on both platforms consider using a scheduling programme like Hootsuite which allows you to write content and schedule it for publishing on a number of platforms at once, and also gives you the opportunity to edit them and make them slightly different to suit the different platforms. An application such as Hootsuite can also save you a lot of time in the long run. If you spend one afternoon lining up and scheduling content to go out at different times during the week it then frees up the rest of your week to interact with users and respond to any messages or requests that come back in.
Think about when you are posting on social media. The time you post and even the day can have an impact on how many people interact with your content. For example – do not publish things at 3am in the morning – very few people will be awake and the content you’ve posted will be wasted. Monday mornings are also a bad time to post content – everyone gets back to work after the weekend and spends most of their time trawling through email inboxes or figuring out what they need to catch up on during the week. Wednesday afternoons tend to be a good time to get interactions. It’s midweek and everyone is getting on top of their work by then and people have more time to relax and look and social media. Also think about what times of day you see people staring at their phones the most – during the journey to and from work can be a good time to catch those who use public transport and also during the lunchtime period. Another time to avoid posting content about family shows is during school run times and also the weekend. Getting interactions during the day on the weekend can be incredibly hard work – a lot of people are out and about as families and not sat staring at their phones – late afternoon and early evening are good or early morning if you want to try and get them along to see a show that day.
Double check everything you post. Make sure all the links work, dates and times are correct and venues are correct. There is nothing worse than publishing something and everyone sharing it only to discover there is a mistake in it. (Trust me I’ve been there and done it too many times!).
Some tips on promoting productions:
Think about what you are trying to say. You think your show is great (well let’s hope you do!), but it’s not enough to just tell everyone “rehearsals are going great it’s going to be amazing you should all come and see it”. That generally won’t sell you many tickets. Of course you’re going to say that. What you need to do is show us why it is great and give us a reason to want to come and see it. It is no longer enough to just rely on one form of advertising and marketing. Different audiences get their information in different ways and you may need to think outside the box.
It is very easy to create simple videos which capture an essence of the show. You could do short interviews with the cast, show brief snippets of scenes, short extracts of songs, add in some rehearsal photos. Anything that teases your audience and gives them a taste of what they can expect when they come and see you. YouTube and Vimeo are incredibly easy to upload and share content from. There are some copyright issues you need to look into but a lot of rights holders will allow you to publish material as long as it’s removed again after the production finishes (if in doubt check with whoever holds the rights to the production).
Interesting and high quality rehearsal shots are great. It gives your audience a sense of something coming together and happening. Go for quality rather than quantity though. You do not need to post hundreds of them just enough to give a flavour of what you’re doing.
Flyers and Posters
Everyone keeps saying that printed media is dead – this is rubbish! A lot of people still like to have something physical that they can take home with them that has all of the information on. A lot of people I know pin them to their fridges or notice boards etc. Think very carefully about the design of your flyers and posters. If they look cheap and nasty then that is the impression you are giving of your production. Use high quality images and where possible easy to read text. With flyers there is no excuse for not producing double-sided ones. The front should be a clear poster image and the back should contain blurb and how to get tickets. It costs peanuts to get these printed these days and there is nothing worse than picking up a flyer and wanting to know more only to turn it over to find a blank page – that immediately puts me off a production as I feel it’s lazy. Also make sure you include Facebook and Twitter accounts and the hashtag you are using for your show. That way people can start interacting with you immediately. Keeping it consistent across all mediums is important and will help you further down the line.
It is incredibly easy and cheap to set up a basic website these days and you can embed Twitter, Facebook and YouTube on to most platforms with relative ease. Make sure the site is clean, gives all the information and is up-to-date. It will generally be the first place people look for more information.
Both Twitter and Facebook support hashtags. Do some research before setting a hashtag – do a search on it and make sure no-one else is using it otherwise you’ll end up with a lot of content that gets in the way of your message. Hashtags are a great way of grouping lots of posts about one item together in an easy to read and search way. Make sure you include your hashtag on all of your promotional material.
Ask other shows and venues if you can advertise in their programmes. There is no reason why an audience from one venue won’t go to another venue to see a production. Likewise (and this is cheeky) but turning up after another production finishes and handing out flyers is not a bad idea. Generally I would say ask the other venue first – but there is nothing to stop you handing out flyers for your production on the street to crowds exiting from another show, as long as you’re not on the property of the venue there is very little they can do to stop you doing this.
If you are clever these can be more than just a nice reminder of the production. If you include your website address, hashtag and company logo on show t-shirts then your company are wearing advertising for you.
Flashmobs and Brief Performances
This works well for musicals. Arranging for a small group to turn up in costume or matching show t-shirts and performing extracts or flyering at other events or locations around the area of your show can help spread the word. Allowing people a brief glimpse of what is to come breaks down a few of the rehearsal room barriers. Especially if you can video it or get people to share what they thought about it on social media or using your hashtag.
Banners, Posters and Flyers
Banners are relatively cheap and easy to get made now. Get them up and around the area surrounding your venue and if you can by other venues as well. You should aim to get at least one piece of advertising per street in a city centre. Make sure people are constantly reminded that your production is coming up.
Get them involved. As many different forms as you can. Radio, newspapers, magazines, online blog sites, what’s on listing sites. The more places you can get your show listed the better. Especially if it’s a community production really push the benefits to the community of the show. It’s hard work but keep on badgering local press until you get a response.
Facebook are constantly changing how the stories you see on your newsfeed are handled. Recently they made a change which had a detrimental effect to pages and means that a lot of people can’t see what you post in their newsfeeds. In reality it’s because Facebook want you to spend money advertising and boosting posts with them. There is a way around this though and here’s how to do it. I’ll use On Stage’s Facebook page as an example. What you need to get your friends to do is go to your Facebook Page and on the top right you will see it says “Liked” with a blue tick. Hover over this and you’ll get a few different options (see picture 1).
Get your friends to click “See First” – this will mean that your pages posts are displayed at the top of their newsfeeds. If you wondered why you hadn’t been seeing posts from one of the pages you follow then this is why. It’s a great way of keeping track of the pages and info that you really want to see.
They can also if they wish turn on notifications so that every time you post they will be notified – this can become irritating though.
And there ends the second installment. I hope it has been useful. If you have any questions then feel free to Tweet me and I’ll do my best to answer them for you. I’m by no means an expert but the items above seem to have worked for me in the past and I hope you find them useful too. I would love to hear what you have found effective and what works for you and your company.
Any questions or comments please get in touch - Tweet me at: @lukejohnemmett