The community theater scene may seem like it’s a million miles away from the world of digital marketing and social media, but I’m here to say that – guess what! – those worlds are closer than you think. As someone who takes part in lots of these productions AND is also head marketing honcho at 1SEO Digital Marketing, today I want to give out 10 vital pieces of advice on how using social media can be your ticket to show success (and all without breaking into Fort Knox!). So get ready folks; let’s take this performance up a level with some awesome tips for promotion on social media!
1 – Stop Thinking Short Term
Theaters that think short term need to get in the theater project mindset and see their production as a long-term goal. Start planning for ticket sales at your first rehearsal, just like you plan out blocking, choreography and music direction! You can really make an impact by investing in someone who’s entirely dedicated to promoting – after all, it’s hard work getting folks into those seats come opening night. Stop playing guessing games with promotions – have a gameplan written down so everyone is on board from curtain up until closing bows!
2 – Stop Being Afraid to Spend Money Advertising Your Show
From sitting on the Executive Boards of multiple theater companies to directing and producing countless plays and musicals—I’ve done it all. That said, one lesson learned was trying too hard not to spend money – especially when advertising your show. Stop relying so much on non-targeted approaches such as local newspapers or printing flyers for around town; trust me when I say this isn’t going get people in those seats no matter how many times they see it! Go modern with targeted social media ads instead because let’s face it: everyone is glued there anyway.
3 – Understand Retargeting
I’ve spent 20 years with community theaters and there are VERY FEW who have figured out how to utilize a social media platform’s retargeting tools. That’s a long time for theater companies to go without knowing all the amazing things you can do when installing remarketing tools like the Meta Pixel – like discovering new audiences, seeing what works best for your ads, advertising effectively with personalized messaging based on consumer interests…the list goes on! So if you don’t have the a pixel set up yet, now is definitely the time make sure you take advantage of this powerful tool – trust me, these are five benefits that will blow your mind!
- 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. A social media platform’s pixel or website tag helps keep your marketing in front of the relevant audiences.
- What’s great about a social media platform’s pixel or website tag 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. These pixel and tags can help with that.
- On the opposite end, a social media platform’s pixel or website tag 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 pixel or website tag 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
Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity – take a few minutes to figure out if your theater’s ticketing system can be connected with a social media platform’s pixel and/or website tag! If it doesn’t, don’t worry – you just have to link your website up manually. It may not sound like wizardry but trust us, it’ll work its magic to get those tickets sold.
5 – Videos, Videos, Videos!
If a photo could tell us one heck of a story, just imagine how much more videos can say. That’s why theater owners should seriously consider getting on board with this trend! All you need is an iPhone and some basic editing skills to get the ball rolling – trust me, it’ll be worth your while in the end.
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
Make sure your creative team, crew and cast are all on the same page when it comes to promoting your show! Set up a Google Drive or Dropbox repository full of approved materials like logos, posters, flyers and videos. This will ensure everyone is sharing consistent info about the show – not just whatever random stuff rogue members decide to post themselves!
7 – Promotion Imagery
If you want your show to get the attention it deserves, make sure all of your promos are ready for social media prime-time! Followers won’t be able to enjoy a giant poster on their smartphones – they need something that has been tailored specifically for mobile viewers. Get creative and design at least 3 promo graphics so everyone inure cast & crew can give ‘er their best shot when spreading the word about this awesome show!
(Side Note – Don’t use blurry photos.)
8 – Give Away A Couple Tickets Online
Planning a show, but not sure how to get the hype going? Hold an online contest! Entice folks with FREE tickets if they share your show’s information and use the special trackable hashtag. It’s totally worth it – you may spend some money on those few giveaway tickets, but when more people come because of the publicity; we’re pretty sure that cost will be well-earned back in no time… plus look at all the new friends hanging around who love free stuff just as much as you do!
9 – Be Easy to Find Online
Don’t let your theater become the missing piece of the puzzle for potential customers! If they see an ad on social media, but can’t purchase tickets right away – make sure it’s easy to find you when they return later through Google. Or else those undecided ticket-buyers may buy from another show for good – and take away a night filled with popcorn, movies, and laughter that could have been yours.
10 – Post-Event Marketing
Congratulations, you made it through the show! Now don’t just retire your poster and call it a day. You can use that same existing performance to lead off some serious marketing for what’s ahead – here are some top-notch ideas of how to maximize those efforts:
- 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.
When it comes to your current show, make sure you’re riding the wave of success! Think ahead and use all that excited energy around your show now for future glory. It’s just good business sense!
Bonus Tip – ASK FOR HELP
No need to panic! It’s normal to feel overwhelmed with all the social media stuff that you have on your plate — don’t be afraid reach out and get help. Find someone who understands sales funnels AND knows their way around a social media campaign – they can really help push you ahead of the competition.
Not willing to suffer the embarrassment of an empty room? We hear ya! Marketing your upcoming show takes more than just posting a link two weeks ahead and crossing your fingers – building an audience involves dedication and strategy. With endless options at hand, don’t be afraid to branch out with new methods of advertising; explore digital platforms or host sneak-peeks in coffee shops… it will all pay off (literally) when you have extra bums on seats come performance night!