Social media is an important piece of the event marketing puzzle. Unlike most nonprofits that are marketing one product all year long (a charitable cause), a performing arts organization markets multiple different products (performances and events) throughout each season. It can be challenging to market diverse offerings whilst still under the umbrella of one organization. Let me share my top 5 tips to marketing events that will generate buzz and improve conversions.
1.Don’t forget about the 80/20 rule. This is a rule that I live by regarding social media marketing, whether it is when I’m marketing an event or not. I find that the best ratio to keep people engaged but not tick them off is to have 80% engagement and 20% broadcasting. Even when you have an event to market, talking 100% about that event is just going to turn people off and they aren’t going to listen to one word that you are saying.
2. Engage creatively. This one goes together with tip #1 about the 80/20 rule. You may ask, why should I waste time tweeting or posting about stuff that has nothing to do with my event when I’m trying to sell tickets? Well, that is pretty simple to answer.
If you are engaging with people, you will be top of mind so that when they do hear something about you or your event, they will remember the interaction and be much more likely to check it out. A creative ways to sneak a bit of broadcasting into your engagement posts is to set up a search column in TweetDeck or HootSuite (or whatever program you are using to monitor your social media) with keywords related to your event.
For example, when Palm Beach Opera presents Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, I set up columns for not only the opera title, but also for related terms such as Puccini and Miss Saigon (which is based on the opera). This way, I can converse with people who are talking about related things without directly “selling” my event to them. This way, when you do send out those 20% of posts that are directly about the event, you have already engaged a potentially new group of people in addition to your existing fans.
3. Make sure your website is up to par. This may seem obvious but it is surprising how many times I see this not being done. The best way to get the word out about your event is to have it prominently featured on the homepage of your website. Also, the event should have its own dedicated page with a unique URL. This URL is imperative to any promotion of the event online whether it is using social media or email.
When promoting an event using social media, add the URL to each broadcasting post. Do you think the URL is too long? Use a link shortener like bit.ly or goo.gl to make the link more manageable. An added bonus to these shorteners is that you will be able to see how many people clicked on the link with their built in stats.
4. Make it easy to buy. A good user experience is very important in closing the deal with an attendee. The buying process should be as simple as possible. You should always allow tickets to be purchased for your event online.
If you don’t have your own ticketing system or if this is an occasional event, try an online service like EventBrite.com or BrownPaperTickets.comthat creates an easy environment for ticket buying. The biggest no-no is to promote an event online and then have the only way to buy tickets be over the phone. You want to make sure that it only takes a couple of clicks between your tweet and buying a ticket.
5. Follow up after the event. Don’t forget to follow up with your attendees after the event in a timely manner. Encourage people to share their thoughts about the event on your profiles. If you offered social media discount and you are able to track ticket buyers with a code of some sort, send an email or a direct tweet to them just after the event with an easy way for them to provide feedback.
If you didn’t use a code, it is still a good idea to make contact with your ticket buyers right after the event to thank them for coming and ask for feedback. Also, don’t forget to keep a separate list of the email addresses of your ticket buyers. This will come in handy when the next event comes as you know they will be a captive audience.
Ceci Dadisman is the arts marketing go-to gal! She is the Director of Marketing & PR at Palm Beach Opera where, in addition to all of the usual marketing duties, she manages all aspects of the company’s technology and new media projects, including social media, website, iPhone app, and live web streaming. During her time at Palm Beach Opera, she has brought Palm Beach Opera to the forefront of the social media and new technology realm proving that companies of all sizes and budgets can do great things in the world of digital marketing. Ceci was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA – home to the Pittsburgh Steelers, sandwiches and salads with french fries on top, and some of the top arts organizations in the nation. She graduated from West Virginia University (let’s go Mountaineers!) with a music degree in vocal performance and is a professional singer.