Stories and reviews in the local press are becoming a thing of the past.
Community newspapers are folding. And many radio listeners have opted for podcasts.
So, how can we promote our theatre in this fractured media landscape?
For many event-based community groups, peer-driven social media is the new promo frontier. Handled with care, it can be the most engaging and cost-effective way to build an audience.
At least, for those patrons who access the Internet.
Tips to boost your social media pitch.
Find a main-space. It can be a page on your website, a blog, or a Facebook Event Page. It’s the repository for all your show details, cast and credits, dates, showtimes, maps and links to the box office. Create a custom link using Google’s URL shortener. Paste it into your posts on other social media pages and platforms. This will help drive traffic back to your landing page.
Leverage Twitter. Start a searchable #Hashtag and use it in your posts as a short-cut to more information. Use general hashtags too, such as #theatre, #comedy or #theatrename. You don’t have to use every hashtag every time.
Remember: the fewer words the better for social media posts.
Use images. A good picture is worth… you know. Take a few interesting publicity shots and crop out any noise in the background. Add some punchy captions to each one. Focus on telling a visual story that creates intrigue, without giving away too much.
Search royalty-free sites like Pixabay for images that support your message or a reference in the show. Release them over time (never all at once) to build interest. You might even consider creating an Internet meme.
Be a joiner. Find communities on Facebook and Twitter with similar interests. Include search words like ‘Events’ and ‘Arts’ and ‘Nightlife.’ Join, Like and Follow them all. Many groups will let you share your posts with other members, who might also share your message. That’s the ‘peer-drive’ part.
Think like your audience. Nobody wants to hear you talk about how great your show is. They want to know what’s in it for them. A post that begins with “Need a good laugh?” may be more engaging than “Come see our amazing cast!” What does your show promise? Craft your social media content with the ‘audience experience’ in mind.
Collect endorsements. Search for quotes from theatre critics, directors or other notable show folks. Make sure they’re dramatic, but appropriate. And provide a link to the source. Once the show opens, collect quotes from audience members to share in posts during the run.
“It’s an absolute and total masterpiece.” – Simon Callow, Director of ‘Shirley Valentine’ – Broadway and West End.
Have a strategy. Are you an impulse publisher? Curb your cravings. Get a calendar and plot out your social media posts, from now until closing night. You can often spin one post six ways, or more. And you can post them on several different walls.
Publishing apps like Hootsuite are handy for scheduling posts, especially on Twitter.
Harness the power of video. Add an active appeal to your message with short videos. Use tools like iMovie to produce simple video files, no longer than 60 seconds. You’ll have a shareable social object that can carry your message in many new directions.
Here’s a sample video:
Consider audience fatigue. Your target groups on social media may follow many of the same groups you do. If they receive 12 posts from you, in rapid succession, it may become irritating. This is sometimes referred to as ‘pitch slapping.’
These folks are often your most loyal customers. They share your interests. Do your best to avoid the tune-out factor. Spread your efforts over time to keep the conversation going.
A measured approach to social media promo will boost your message, extend your reach, and engage a loyal community to buy your tickets.
If your local newspaper still prints stories that sell tickets, you’re among the fortunate few. Keep doing it as long as you can!