I will never understand why community theaters do not ever make a sound, strategic investment into promoting their productions on social media. From my experience, I have found that many theaters want to dedicated resources to promoting on social media, but they either don’t know how, or they don’t have the right plan for it.
So today, as a person who performs in community theater productions quite often AND happens to head the marketing department at 1SEO Digital Marketing, I am going to share with you 10 important tips to promoting your upcoming production using Facebook.
Follow The Vibe With Ky on Your Favorite Social Channel!
1 – Stop Thinking Short Term
The most common mistake that I see theaters make is short term strategy. Why are you beginning to promote your production 2-3 weeks before the curtain rises and then complain about ticket sales? You have to stop thinking short term and understand that selling anything requires you to have a long-term strategy in place.
You don’t go into the first rehearsal without a vision for the blocking, choreography, and music direction… So why go in without a fully thought out strategy about how you’re going to get people into the seats? I often tell people to hire someone that is fully dedicated to just promoting your show. It’s worth the investment if you want people to actually come see the production you’re working so hard on.
When you’re in pre-production for the show, while you’re figuring out the logistics of the show itself, you need a full strategy for how you’re going to promote it. Literally write it down and actually execute it.
2 – Stop Being Afraid to Spend Money Advertising Your Show
I’ve worked on some low-budget shows. I’ve also been on the Executive Boards of multiple theater companies. I’ve also directed and produced countless amounts of plays and musicals. Trust me when I say that I really know what it’s like to work on a small budget.
But community theaters need to STOP being afraid to spend money on targeted advertisements. Quite often I see theaters try the blanket marketing approach of relying on local newspapers or billboards or printing flyers to hang up around the office. STOP investing so much in this non-targeted approach and invest that same money into targeting advertising on Facebook.
3 – Understand Retargeting
I’ve been doing community theater for going on 20 years. Out of all of the theaters I’ve worked at over these two decades, ZERO of them utilize Facebook’s retargeting tools. ZERO.
Does your production company’s website have the Facebook Pixel installed onto it? Do you even know what a Facebook Pixel is? If not, you would be amazed at all of the things you can do when it’s installed.
I won’t spend this time going into every detail of this (you can read more about the Facebook Pixel here), but I will give you these 5 quick benefits to having it:
- You’ll get a better understanding of who your audience is, how you retarget those people, and how you can find other people that are similar to them that may not be familiar with your theater.
- You wouldn’t want to advertise your straight play to people who prefer musicals or vice versa. You want to market your production to a relevant audience. The Facebook Pixel helps keep your marketing in front of the relevant audiences.
- What’s great about the Facebook Pixel is that you can tailor paid ads toward people that may take their time when it comes to buying tickets. Some people need to be finessed before they determine whether they want to buy a ticket or not. The Facebook Pixel can help with that.
- On the opposite end, the Facebook Pixel can also help reach people who are quick to purchase tickets, or people you’re hoping to catch at the last minute.
- Some of your audience may prefer to buy their tickets in-person instead of online. Using the Facebook Pixel data, you can actually create paid, targeted ads that encourage them to buy those tickets in person.
4 – See If Your Ticketing System Integrates with Facebook
If you haven’t done this already, you’re missing out. Take a few moments and research whether your theater’s ticketing system has a way to integrate with Facebook. If it does, you need to be using it asap. If it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world! You can still use the Facebook Pixel to integrate manually with your website to help optimize for ticket purchases.
5 – Videos, Videos, Videos!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, on social media, a video is worth a BILLION words. Why do theaters not utilize videos more often?! It doesn’t need to be high tech or over-produced, but videos can engage your audience at a higher capacity than single images. Film it on your iPhone, edit it really quickly using iMovie (or something similar) and post it… you won’t regret it.
Here are some ideas of videos you can film:
- Film your lead performers performing a song from the show. It doesn’t have to be the fully choreographed or blocked scene… just have your performer(s) at a piano belting their face off for 2 minutes.
- Film some B-roll of the cast rehearsing, overlayed with music from the show. Edit it real quick and post it along with information about tickets to see the finished product on stage.
- Interview the cast and creative team. Ask them about their experience working on the show and why people should come and see it.
The possibilities are endless here, folks. It’s easy and it’ll increase your exposure.
6 – Uniform Consistency
Yes, your cast is your social media army. They can share stuff about the show… but make sure you give them something to actually share! Something uniform and consistent. Make sure your cast, crew and creative team are all on the same page at what should be put out in the public.
Set-up a Google Drive or a Dropbox where you can put all the approved imagery and videos. Maybe it’s the show logo with the show dates and ticket information, or the poster, or the flyer or the videos that were filmed for promotional use, etc. Have it all in one place where people can easily find it, download it and share it with their friends and family.
The better you are at communicating what is official, the less likely you are to get those rogue cast members that decide to promote the show on their own, using stuff that wasn’t run by the production team.
7 – Promotion Imagery
#6 directly leads into my next point – the importance of the promotional imagery you’re using. You need to make sure that ALL of your promotional imagery is fit for use on social media platforms. Yes, that means that your 11×18 inch poster is not made for Facebook, so STOP USING IT ON FACEBOOK.
Facebook and Instagram images work best when they are 1080×1080 pixels. Those dimensions are mobile friendly when it shows up in our timelines. Create a set of maybe 3-5 different graphics that your cast, crew and creative team and use to promote the show.
Also, make sure you have Facebook Profile Covers that they can use as well. Those dimensions are 820×312 pixels for desktop, 640×360 for mobile. Anything smaller than these will result in a blurry photo.
(Side Note – Don’t use blurry photos.)
8 – Give Away A Couple Tickets Online
Hold a contest and giveaway a few tickets online. Maybe the contest is “Share our show’s digital flyer using the hashtag #NameofShowNameofTheater and you’re entered to win 4 FREE tickets to the show!
Doing stuff like this encourages people to share and promote your show, costing you absolutely nothing except the cost of the show tickets. But if this contest results in more and more tickets being sold, I am sure you’ll be more than happy to eat the cost of those tickets you’re giving away.
Also… who doesn’t like free stuff?
9 – Be Easy to Find Online
Sometimes they see your post or ad on social media, but they can’t make a purchase right then and there. So what do they do when they have time later? They go to Google.
Make sure your theater is easy to find on social and on search engines. If it’s not, then you will easily lose potential customers, especially ones that may have been on the fence about purchasing tickets in the first place.
10 – Post-Event Marketing
This is the biggest mistake I see theaters make. They believe that once the show is closed that their marketing efforts are over. They could not be more wrong.
If you plan on doing more shows, you can easily use your current show to get a head start on promoting your next one. Here are some ideas of what you can do after the show closes:
- Performance Highlight Reel Video
- Send out a “Thank You for Attending” message to everyone that bought a ticket.
- Send a post-show survey.
- Give a discount code to people who bought tickets for the next show.
- Give a special sneak-peek at your next production.
It’s really important that you capitalize on any and all buzz your current show may have to promote your next show. This is just basic business tactic stuff right here.
Bonus Tip – ASK FOR HELP
I am throwing a lot at you right now. I totally get how confusing this may all seem, which is why you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, not just from someone who uses social media for fun, but from someone who fully understands the sales funnel and strategy required to get you where you need to be.
If you need assistance marketing your upcoming production, I’m happy to help you strategize. Contact me today and we’ll find time to chat about what you’re looking to do and how I can assist you and your theater.
I am going to be honest: selling tickets to your upcoming production is a lot more than just putting up posts on group pages, printing up flyers, or putting up a random, non-strategic post with a link to the ticket page every now and then 2 weeks before your show opens… it’s a lot more involved than that.
Finding an audience takes time. It can be tedious, but strategizing a marketing plan for your shows can result in more and more ticket sales. There’s nothing worse than performing in front of an empty room after you’ve spent months preparing… do your due diligence, STOP the non-strategic marketing, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there with new methods of advertisements. It’s soooo worth it if you’re looking to get butts in the seats.
About The Author: Kyrus Keenan Westcott is a Motivational Influencer and the Social Media Team Lead at 1SEO Digital Marketing, a digital marketing firm based in the Greater Philadelphia area. Kyrus has over 15 years of digital marketing experience under his belt. He has worked with a countless amount of clients over the years, improving their social media presence and sales, and currently shares his marketing, positive energy, and amusement park insight on his official blog: The Vibe With Ky. Follow Kyrus on Instagram and Twitter @TheVibeWithKy.