If your show’s online, you can bring your home audience with you.
Social media can and should be an important part of your marketing strategy. When used correctly, it’s a powerful marketing tool that can help you reach new audiences for free, and encourage them to find out more about you. It helps you to listen to what your audiences, peers and relevant journalists are saying and provides a platform to build relationships and network with them.
Here are some general pointers:
- A successful social media approach needs time – don’t set up the accounts two weeks before the Fringe.
- If you’re setting up social media accounts for the first time, consider creating them for your company rather than your show: that way you can build on it year-on-year for new projects and give a backstage context to your preparations for the Fringe.
- Plan your key content in advance, and add more reactive updates and replies as you go.
- Social media is social: engage in conversations with your followers and peers. Research relevant conversations that are already going on and who your potential advocates might be. Follow Fringe shows or performers you admire or who are similar to you or your show, monitor their most popular content and respond to them in a friendly way.
- Get your friends, family, cast, crew and venue on board by making sure that they follow you, share your stories and tag you in their own posts.
Content and tone of voice
Decide what tone of voice suits your show/company and stick with it consistently: it should reflect the character you want to portray, the tone of your show and the reason you’re on social in the first place. Your company/professional voice may not be the same as your personal social media voice.
Be consistent across all of your channels, although you may want to accentuate different aspects according to the platform, eg leading with images on Instagram. If multiple people are posting from your accounts, your followers shouldn’t be able to spot the difference.
If you’re stuck with where to start, try writing down three adjectives to sum up your show. Every post you write should reflect at least one of them, if not all. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes: what would they find most interesting about your show?
Think about how to adapt your content to suit different platforms. Don’t repeat the same message everywhere – reward those who follow you across multiple networks with different messages on each, even if the story you’re sharing is essentially the same. Think about the type of content suitable for each (video, imagery, short copy) and what the audience for each might be looking for.
There’s no golden rule for creating great social media content: different things work well for different individuals, and successful content relies equally on intuition, practise, and trial and error.
Social media tips
The following tips might also help structure and inform your content, especially if you’re new to using social media as a promotional tool.
- Include images or GIFs where possible, across all your social platforms. Posts with images get much more engagement than ones without on both Twitter and Facebook.
- Videos, if you have them, also perform very well.
- Keep it snappy: tweets under 140 characters are more easily sharable, and tweets with less than 100 characters have been proven to get more engagement. Consider what your keywords are and mention them as early as possible in your messages.
- Consider running a competition – they’re a good way of boosting your follower numbers. Tag them #win, #competition or #giveaway, and make them easy to enter (‘RT for a chance to win…’ works well), but be careful to publish a clear set of terms and conditions, link to them in every post, and make sure they comply with the official competition terms and conditions of the channel you’re using.
- Keep in mind the best time of day, or day of the week, you get most attention. Bear in mind that some of your followers could be in different time zones. Brands typically get around 20% more Twitter engagement at weekends than weekdays, and tweets posted between noon and 22:00 local time gain more engagement. When has your content performed best in the past?
- Think before you link. Social media is a great way to drive traffic to a website, but that doesn’t mean every post should have a link in it. Research has shown that some of the most successful social accounts share a link in one of every ten posts, or even less. When you do post a link, accompany it with a clear label so your followers know what they’re looking at, and always double check the link before you post.
- If you can’t be funny, be helpful. Some of the best Twitter accounts rely on humour for their success, but it can be hard to gauge the level of wit appropriate to your audience and to maintain it. If humour doesn’t come naturally to you, aim to make your tweets helpful instead, by providing interesting or useful information and sharing interesting stories.
- DO NOT SPAM! Nothing will lose you fans faster than tweeting 104 variations of “Hey @StephenFry/@SarahMillican/@RubyWax tickets are now on sale for our #edfringe show PLS RT!!” – your followers will see every single one of them.
- Don’t be afraid to share the same message twice. Social media is extremely transient; your content will very quickly be yesterday’s news and there’s no harm in reiterating it, especially on Twitter. Do, however, vary the wording so as not to make it repetitive for anyone who sees it more than once.
- Have FUN! Social media can and should be one of the most enjoyable parts of your marketing strategy, and if you’re enjoying yourself your audience will identify and respond to that.
Promoting a show on social
Social is not primarily a commercial platform, and you should be realistic about the fact that you’re unlikely to sell hundreds of tickets as a direct result of your activity. Your aim for social media should be to spread the word about your show and let audiences know who you are.
That said, there is a place on social media for careful promotional messaging. Used correctly, social can be a valuable component of your commercial marketing strategy.
Don’t do constant plugs for your show, it’s boring for your audience and makes it look like you’re manipulating them. Your social messages should be entertaining first, helpful second, and promotional last. If in doubt about how often to do a ticketing reminder, use the 7:2:1 rule: for every ten pieces of content (excluding replies):
- seven should be non-promotional and either helpful or entertaining to your fans
- two can be vaguely promotional
- one can be a blatant plug.
Use strong calls to action that tell your audience clearly what it is you expect them to do, such as ‘buy tickets’ or ‘find out more’. Try to turn ticket information into stories: it’s more interesting to announce that tickets for your show have just gone on sale than it is to just tell people to buy them. Give your messages a context and don’t assume that readers will be familiar with your show or company name – your messages can reach friends of friends or followers of followers who may not be familiar with you at all. For example, consider which of these statements you’re more likely to engage with from an unknown source:
- “We can’t believe that Hamlet is ACTUALLY HAPPENING! We’re so excited and would absolutely love it if you could come along and support us.”
- “Our #edfringe show, Hamlet, just went on sale! Details at edfringe.com.”
Sales messages should include a striking and relevant image and should always include a link. Where possible, link to websites that are mobile compatible, such as edfringe.com. You don’t need to include the time, date and venue in your post – if users are interested in seeing it, they’ll click the link to find out more information.
Be aware that Facebook’s algorithm automatically penalises the reach of posts it identifies as being overtly promotional.
- posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- posts that reuse the exact same content from ads (that is, advertising from the same account on Facebook).
If you do decide to use Facebook, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should never post ticketing messages: just be careful to avoid words like ‘sale’, ‘buy’, ‘deal’ or ‘offer’, and don’t post them too often; emphasise the story and not the sales message.
Find out more about this at www.facebook.com/business/news/update-to-facebook-news-feed.
Talking to the media on social media
You can contact journalists by social media, but remember that you want to encourage them to come and see your show as opposed to pestering them to the point that they are put off doing that, so consider the following points:
Do your research
Don’t just contact every journalist on the media list inviting them to come and see your show. Find out the interests and specialisms of each individual critic. Make a wish list of which reviewers you would like to see your show and find out their Twitter handles so you can interact.
Think before you tweet
Journalists will expect to be contacted about coming to see your show, but in order for them take up the offer you need to make sure that what you tell them is engaging and relevant, eg award nominations and details of your Edinburgh dates.
Pick your timing
It’s also important to work out when and how often to message them. Try not to overdo it: you want their attention but you also don’t want to irritate anyone. Try and tweet them at landmark moments throughout your Fringe journey, for example when you first register the show, when you arrive in Edinburgh and a reminder of dates of your press night if you’re having one. If time is running out and you really want to get them to review, you can tweet them with gentle ‘last chance’ message.
Don’t send private or direct messages
This is something that journalists have told us that they don’t like and most of the time these messages won’t get read or even noticed. So best not do it.
Tweet the media
Every year, the Fringe Society hosts ‘Meet the Media’ - an event which connects key journalists and editors with Fringe participants. It’s an opportunity for artists to pitch their shows and to gain key contacts for coverage.
This year, given social distancing guidelines, we’re planning to host the event on Twitter. On Thursday 05 August from 10:00 – 18:00, key Fringe journalists will be monitoring the hashtag #TweetTheMedia. We invite participants to pitch their show in a tweet using the hashtag, and if journalists are intrigued, they will like the tweet and ask for more information.
The Fringe Society Media team are on hand to offer media advice and assistance in crafting your tweet pitch and will be liking and sharing tweets throughout the day through the @edfringe account.
Paid advertising on social
Once you have mastered using social media organically, and if you have budget for it, you may want to look into some paid social advertising options. This can be a great way to reach audiences for a relatively small amount of money. However, we strongly recommend that you speak to a social media professional or at least spend time familiarising yourself with the training information available online before getting stuck in. Whilst most of the social advertising platforms are fairly intuitive, you need to make sure you understand the core principles thoroughly to make sure your budget is achieving the results you want.
Facebook and Instagram
There are a few promotional options available on Facebook and Instagram, including adverts, promoted posts and sponsored stories. Facebook.com/business and business.instagram.com talk you through the basics, and you can run single campaigns across the multiple platforms.
Before you do anything else, be sure to visit the billing section of the Adverts Manager and set a spending limit: this will ensure that, should you make a mistake, you aren’t charged more than you’re expecting.
Twitter also offers a few different types of ads, including promoted tweets and promoted accounts (follower ads). Twitter for business has lots of information on the different options and advice on which options work best for your goals.
As with Facebook, be sure to set maximum spends to avoid nasty surprises.
Advertising on edfringe.com
There is also the opportunity to advertise your show on edfringe.com, with leaderboards, mobile banners and button ads available to participants at a special rate. Online adverts can be designed to include animation and will link through to the show’s box office listing.
Online promotion via crowdfunding
If you’re raising money for your show via a crowdfunding platform, you should run this hand-in-hand with your social media campaign. Crowdfunding milestones are great, triumphant moments to share on social, and image or video assets you create for one can be repurposed for the other. Think of crowdfunding as part of your marketing, not just a way of raising money.
You can also widen your network of peers and followers by sharing crowdfunding links to fellow Fringe companies, and asking them to do the same for you.