Using Social Media Effectively

A couple of people let me know after Friday’s post, in which I mentioned I’d been doing a lot of social media preparation for Fuel, that that would be something they’d be interested in getting a separate post of advice about. Which was great, because I’d been planning on writing one!

Online marketing is a growing form of marketing, and an increasingly effective one – one of the shows at the Edinburgh fringe this year went entirely print free, which is both environmentally friendly, and occasionally, budget-friendly. An important part of this is social media marketing, which works in some ways a little like ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing (which has always been the most successful form of publicity, if the most difficult one to manage) but online, so broader scale, but less personal.

In my experience, Twitter is the most used platform in terms of marketing, with others such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook being widely available and used too. My suggestion would be to use as many of these as possible, and to link them, if you can, so that the same things make it to different audiences. So, if you have a good picture and a relatively long caption, post it to Instagram, and get Instagram to share it with Facebook and Twitter… ETA: After this post was first published, a reader, whose blog you should check out here, contacted me asking about my suggestion that Twitter is the most used platform. This has been my experience in theatre marketing both from my time at Fuel and on the receiving end of finding out about things/being encouraged to go to things in the theatre world, but she noted that in circus arts, Instagram is used much more widely. My knowledge is limited to my experience, so obviously, find out what is most used in your area of the arts (or other areas of marketing) and focus on that! Thank you for your insight Rebekah!

Facebook and Instagram are better for longer and slightly more infrequent posts, such as a picture and a long description, while you will want more, shorter posts (up to 140 characters, including spaces) for Twitter (as well as sharing the longer Instagram/Facebook posts, which will cut off after the 140 characters, and anyone wanting to read it will have to click through to Instagram).

Twitter is also a good platform for sharing what others have said about your show, by retweeting people’s (positive, preferably!) comments and reviews. I would share reviews on Facebook and Instagram as well, but probably in a single large post saying something to the effect of ‘look at all the lovely things people are saying about us; don’t miss out!! Link, link, link…’.

YouTube is also a useful platform for marketing, but for smaller scale shows, its biggest value is in enabling you to release a trailer, which you can then put out on all your social media, as well as other online areas (such as your website). Some people prefer Vimeo as a platform for this; it will depend on your preferences/what you have available, but both platforms do exist. ETA: Rebekah also flagged that Facebook’s algorithm prioritises native videos over shared ones from YouTube, which is a really helpful tip – thanks!

In terms of planning, if you know when your show is, and you know what publicity material you have available, planning the tweets/posts which will come up regardless of what else is going on in the world in advance will save you time, and enable you to make sure that you have regular content reminding your online audience of what is coming up, and encouraging them to come see your work.

One way to do this, my preferred method, after trying out a couple, is a spreadsheet, in which you have rows by date, and columns by production (if you have several going on at once), with a colour code for things which will be shared across all social media platforms, and things which will stay on only one platform (usually twitter). Then decide what will be shared when so that big things don’t all happen at once, and that they’re staggered so as to build up anticipation.

I would suggest that the best time for intensive publicity is in the three weeks before an event, and that you are aiming for 1-3 across-social-media posts, and 3-4 other tweets, and then retweeting any positive comments made, and responding to people online. The things you can plan in advance, obviously are the non-retweets/responses. These will depend on what sort of campaign you are having, but useful things you can do is have a show hashtag, e.g. #[name of show], which you include in all social media things you write. This means that people can find everything that’s been said in one place, if they click on it, and that you can find comments about the show more easily if others start using the hashtag too.

You want to schedule the social media posts you’ve planned in advance, so that they can go up at the most useful times for you, regardless of what you happen to be doing in that moment. For this you will want to look up statistics of when content is most likely to be seen by audiences (hint. not 2am) and decide how to spread things out. For this blog, to make things easier for myself, I schedule everything to go up at 5pm GMT, which means that it will be recent when people start checking social media after work. You are likely to want a little more variety than that on platforms like twitter though, so perhaps some posts at 5pm, some at 7pm, some at lunchtime… You’ll have to work out what works best for you over time (use the statistics websites give you!! I know that the time the most people visit my blog is 10pm GMT on a Monday; which is great because there’s the recent content from Monday 5pm posts, and, if people missed it, the Friday post is still relatively recent too!), but a good place to start is general statistics.

That’s all I have to suggest at the moment, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you run a social media campaign before? Did you do anything beyond this? What did you find worked best? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you as always for reading, and I’ll see you on Friday for an update on how last week went at Fuel (just a quick taster – we’ll be talking about interviews and all sorts, you don’t want to miss it!) and then I’ll see you again next Monday for more advice!

Emily xxx


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