We’re beyond the age of social media marketing being just a nice bonus strategy to annual audience outreach campaigns. At the beginning of this year there were over 1.65 billion active Facebook users in the world. Or to put that in perspective that’s the population of the US, Canada and the UK, multiplied by 2.5, and then some.
Naturally, as a result of this widespread use most arts organizations today have a basic presence on some platforms. Let’s all take a moment to get that collective chuckle out of the way now though and just admit that most of the arts are severely underutilizing or abusing social media. And hey, that’s okay. It took more than a couple of years for the big corporate brands out there to get their acts together too, but now that those large brands have trained our audiences on what to expect from a brand online the arts needs to hop on board with those expectations to maximize impact.
So what are those expectations and how can your organization’s upcoming post be the next Arby’s grammy tweet?
Let’s starts with the basics
- Don’t do it all. Chances are your organization doesn’t have the budget to effectively manage more than two or three platforms. So focus your attention on some combination of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Hashtags matter. It’s been proven that posts with up to two hashtags get almost double the retweets on Twitter as opposed to tweets without. With Instagram the rule is to have up to ten. But be careful, once you pass those thresholds your hashtags will start to work against you. So be sure not to go above.
- Make your hashtags clear and suffice. It should be simple to type and easy to understand.
- Images, images, images. Posts with images have much larger impact than those with just text. Images are processed by the human brain 60,000x faster than text ,so images help your followers decide quickly if they want to interact with your post.
- Caption those videos. If you are posting video content (which you should be) take advantage of the autoplay feature on Facebook and make sure that even if viewers aren’t listening to your video they are drawn in by it’s content. A great example of this in action is the Now This Facebook page.
- Converse with your customers, in the right way. Your customers are talking about you on social media and you need to join that conversation. If it’s a positive post thank the customer and re-post it in your feed to celebrate those accolades. If it’s a negative post there are two things you need to consider. If the complaint is something within your control to fix such as making the booking process easier, or seating them in a non-obstructed seat, reach out to the customer and make them happy. If the post is artistically related and the customer just didn’t like what was performed, leave that post alone. Your loyal fans will often come to your rescue and you do not want to get involved in a conversation that can be perceived as belittling or invalidating the opinions of your customers.
- Consider livestreaming. Many platforms such as Facebook, Twitter (Periscope), YouTube and Meerkat offer live streaming services for free. If you have a pre/post show talk or other live event that you can share it takes very little effort to set up a phone in front of it so people can tune in watch. Ultimately, minimal effort, positive results.
- Don’t post YouTube links on Facebook. Facebook promotes use of its own video services within the platform and will give your links to YouTube less visibility than if you post the video within Facebook itself.
A couple of social media don'ts
- Stay away from Tumblr. Just get away from there. Tumblr drives internal clicks, not external ones, so unless you plan to keep your social audience inside the empty world of Tumblr, don’t bother.
- Don’t just dump your links on social media. Creating engaging content and snappy social posts takes a little bit of work, but it’s definitely worth your time. Simply posting links out to your website or blog with no context will get you nowhere.
Social Media is Pay to Play
All audience acquisition has a cost associated to it. There once was a time when organic reach on social media was enough to get the job done, but these platforms are beholden to shareholders and at the end of the day need to make money from advertising. This is why their algorithms for promoting posts much more heavily feature paid posts and discriminate against organic sources.
This isn’t as scary as it seems though, it’s just different. Social media offers a direct link to customers in a way traditional print media cannot, so consider shifting some of that print budget to social media to more closely align with your customers natural behaviors. And unlike print, since you only pay when customers actually interact with your content you can make sure that every dollar you put in has an actual result.
Make use of social media management tools
It takes work to perfect a social media presence, but fear not! There’s some great tools out there that make social management so much easier, both free and for a small cost. Here’s a couple that we like:
- Buffer. A great tool that we use here at Spektrix, that allows you to track your follower activity and determine the perfect moment to schedule those tweets and Facebook posts to maximize exposure. It’s great features include multi-platform scheduling, analytics and a browser extension that makes for even easier posting. There’s a free option as well as varying business size monthly plans.
- Hootsuite. This tool lets you connect with more than thirty-five popular social media platforms, which is really useful for those of you wanting a wide social media presence. Some of its great features are a scheduling tool, RSS feeds, a multichannel social media listening tool, analytics and reporting. It’s free for small scale use but also offers a Pro options for a fairly minimal price.
- Tweetdeck. Get your Tweets organized with this tool that lets you take advantage of some more advanced and useful Twitter functionalities, like custom timelines, Twitter lists and searches, and team accounts. Plus it’s free to use for Twitter users.
Making a well crafted symphony of social media isn’t hard, but it does need proper planning. So get to work and start planning your content strategies and make sure you're spending time and money on your advertising mediums proportionately to the value they offer you.