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Social Media

What is Social Media?


Today, we understand social media as web-based communication platforms that allows users to interact, share, and receive information. Anywhere on the internet where you can communicate with others could be considered a form of social media. The most popular are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram which will be discussed in this article, but YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vine, Flickr, Spotify, and even Tinder can all be considered social media platforms.

The key element is that these platforms are SOCIAL so the content that you’re posting should be social as well. Avoid simply broadcasting information, but encourage engagement with your content. How can you invite members of your online community to like, comment, share, and interact with you and others around your online presence? Can you ask questions? Encourage discussion? Incentivize engagement? All of these are important to keep in mind while creating and planning your social media content.

Who are you getting Social with?


Before you dive into creating and posting content on your social media sites, you need to know who you are trying to reach. Who is your target audience? How old are they? Where do they live? What do they like? What are their priorities? And where do they hang out online? Be as specific as possible. This may mean that your target audience is a little bit smaller, but it’s better to have fewer, more committed followers than many less-committed followers.

Once you know who you are trying to reach, you need to think about what they are looking for. Social media is widely considered a place where we craft stories about ourselves. How do you fit into that? If someone from your target audience shared some of your content or went to see your show, how would that help them craft their story? How does your company or production add value to their lives? How does it affirm their values? All this may seem like a lot of thought put in just for someone to click through to your ticketing link, but as Seth Godin writes in his book Tribes, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but the stories you tell.”

Once you take all of that into account, you’ll want to think about how that affects the way you talk about your company or show. What kind of language are you using? Is it formal, playful, aggressive, silly? And how do other people talk about you and your work? And how can all of this bridge the gap between your show, company, or event and your online audience?

What kind of things should I be posting?

Be creative. You are, after all, an Artist Producer. Apply the same creativity to your online content. Look at what the companies you admire do with their social media and think about what works and what doesn’t. A few examples:

  • Host a caption contest for free tickets to your show
  • Livestream a rehearsal or production meeting
  • Have a member of your team take over your social media account for a day
  • Shout-out other organizations. Wish other shows happy opening or publicly thank the coffee shop you’ve been meeting at – don’t forget to tag them!
  • Create a GIF of that funny thing that happened in rehearsal

Which platforms should I use?


There are new social media platforms coming out all the time. YouTube or Vimeo are video-centric, Pinterest is great for the highly visual, product-centric content, SnapChat appeals to a younger crowd, and LinkedIn serves the professionals. The best bet is to think critically about who you’re trying to reach and how and determine which platform(s) you’d like to use. Below are a few of the most popular social networking sites and the best ways to use them.

PRO TIP: Be realistic with your goals. How many platforms can you realistically manage while producing your show? It’s better to post consistently on one platform than inconsistently on many.

Twitter

A platform for broadcasting “tweets”, short messages up to 140 characters long. Tweets can contain images, video, hyperlinks or text but must stay within the character cap. This challenges you to keep your content clear and concise. Twitter can be accessed through the Twitter app or from your laptop/desktop.

What is this platform best for?
Twitter is best for a-la-minute updates to tell your followers and the public what is happening in that moment. Some people say that your tweet loses it’s value about 20 minutes after its last interaction. So Twitter is great for the ‘Punch Line’ – in other words, say something impactful but say it quickly. Some data suggests that the best times to post are around noon and 5-6pm, when people are on their work breaks or their commute home, but as always, it depends when you’re audience is online.

What can I do for free?
Creating an account and posting with Twitter is all free. Posts with visuals (pictures/video) generally have a higher engagement rate than text alone.
Hashtags are searchable on Twitter, so you can increase the public visibility of your tweet by using the keywords or hashtags that your target audience is searching for – but these all have to be contained within the 140 character limit that Twitter provides. One to two hashtags is generally best.
Engage with others – tag other companies using their handles (Example: @username, @GeneratorTO) in your tweet. Retweet others’ tweets if you think your followers will find it interesting, or try adding a comment to start a conversation. This can help you, and whoever you’re tweeting with, to be seen by a wider audience.

What can I pay for?
Like most social media, Twitter has a feature that allows you to pay to increase the visibility of your tweets to a targeted audience. From your Twitter account, navigate to ‘Twitter Ads.’ From there, you will be able to create a ‘Campaign’ with an objective (Build Awareness, Followers, Tweet Engagements, etc.). You can set your budget, choose how long your campaign will run for, select which tweet(s) you want to campaign with and determine your targeted audience by specifying their age, gender, location, and interests.

Facebook

A general-interest social media platform that allows users to connect in a variety of ways from posting text updates, pictures, and links to joining common-interest groups, to live streaming video, or messaging in real-time. Unlike your personal Facebook Profile, creating a Facebook Page is the best way to represent your show or company.

What is this platform best for?
The possibilities are broad, but the general consensus is that Facebook is best to engage with your audience rather than find new followers. Posts with video have the highest engagement, and more specific videos that are uploaded to Facebook (rather than linked to from YouTube or Vimeo) see even more action. There is data to suggest that the best times to post to Facebook are during the weekday (between 9am and 7pm) while people are on their breaks, with the worst time being between 8pm and 8am.

What can I do for free?
It’s free to create a Page and post on Facebook. Text, photo, video, and links are all fair game and there is no limit to the length of any post. You can post, comment, and like content as your Business Page and even stream video in real-time using Facebook Live.
You can connect with others by tagging individuals or other Pages in your pictures or text comments. This is a great way to show your sponsors or members of your community some social media love.
Hashtags are searchable on Facebook, but rarely used unlike Instagram and Twitter. However, you can engage special interest ‘Groups’ (Example: Bunz Theatre Zone Toronto, TORONTO THEATRE AUDITIONS). For many groups, you can only share content to these groups if you are a member with your personal profile, but you can always share from your Facebook Page by clicking on the post, then ‘Share’, and then ‘Share To Group’ and choosing which group you’d like to share with from a drop down list.
If you’re producing a show, fundraiser, or other event, creating an ‘Event’ can be helpful. When you create an Event from your company’s Page, your company will show up as a host of the event. Once you create an Event, you can invite your friends to RSVP and allow them to invite others. When you post in an Event, attendees will get a notification. And you can enable posting by others, which is a great place for audiences to share reviews or testimonials.

What can I pay for?
Similar to Twitter, Facebook allows you to pay to increase the visibility and engagement of your posts. There’s a range of complexities of Facebook advertising, from ‘Boosting’ posts to creating ‘Campaigns.’ In most cases, you have the capability to choose your objective, budget, timeline and target audience – and Facebook will provide you with the all the data on how many people engaged with or without the help of your ad dollars.

Instagram

A platform for sharing photos and videos. While your Instagram feed can be viewed from your computer, you can only post using the Instagram app on a mobile device. You can include a caption with your photos and videos, and unlike Twitter, there is no limit to how long your text is.

What is this platform best for?
With it’s visual nature, many say that it’s the best platform for connecting with creatives and artists. The only downside – it can be tricky to gain traffic to an external website or ticket sales hub on Instagram because links in post captions aren’t clickable. However, you can include a clickable link on your profile page, so directing your followers to “follow link in bio” can help you in this respect. Colourful, high-quality photos get the most engagement and Instagram generally sees the most action outside of work hours (before 9am and after 5pm), when people are enjoying their leisure time.

What can I do for free?
It is free to create an account and post on Instagram. You can take picture from within the app or upload from your phone’s photo library.
Hashtags are searchable so including these can help you reach an audience outside of your followers alone. Unlike Twitter, there is no limit on caption length so you can include as many hashtags as you’d like, but best practices are to push these down to the bottom of a caption to avoid the text-clutter that may distract from your photo. Inserting periods on few lines in your captions and inserting your hashtags underneath will do this for you.
Communicate with other users and organizations by tagging them in your photos or referring to their handles in your caption or comments, and like and comment on other users photos and videos as well.

Use Instagram Stories - a feature that allows you to add multiple photos and videos to appear in a slideshow like format that will disappear in a short amount of time. These appear in a bar at the top of your followers’ feeds and will only be viewed if one of your followers clicks on your story. This is a great way to share lots of content without over-posting, and because they appear at the top of a feed, Stories are always in the line of sight.

What can I pay for?
Similar to Twitter, Instagram has a feature allowing you to pay for ‘Instagram Ads.’ This feature is only available to Instagram Business Accounts. Switching your account to a Business Profile is relatively easy, but it does require you to link your account to a Facebook page and ensure that your Profile is public. Ads on Instagram operate in a similar manner to Ads on Facebook (FB and IG are owned by the same company). You can boost posts from within the app or create campaigns. What’s great? Instagram Ads allow people to click through to an external website right from the promoted photo or video.

Things to Consider

To spend or not to spend, that is the question…

There is no definitive answer as to whether or not your social media advertising dollars equate to more people at your show. But they can help your content be seen by more eyes and can sometimes be more cost-efficient than printing postcards and posters. If you’re hesitant about advertising, try investing a few dollars to boost a post or ad. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will all provide you data about how many people saw that ad, what percentage of people saw it because you paid, and how many people clicked through.

PRO TIP: Even if you don’t advertise, save your analytic data across your platforms. Saving this data is helpful in many ways – it lets you see what kinds of things you’re posting on your social media that are working and what isn’t. And it can be helpful when talking to funders about your influence and how you can help them reach your audience.

Short answer: No. Different platforms require different types of content. Sharing the same content across different platforms won’t serve you well, and your followers may become bored from seeing the same things multiple times. To avoid distilling the value of your content, post things that are specific to that platform.

How do I keep track of it all?

Although it can seem like a lot of social media is happening in real time, planning your social media content is not only possible but important to maintaining consistency (and your sanity). Facebook and Twitter both have capacities to schedule your posts. Unfortunately, you can not schedule Instagram posts within the apps, but this is possible with some online tools (like Hootsuite and Agora) that can help you manage your content across the platforms, occasionally for a small fee. Scheduling reminders to post in your phone can be helpful, and when all else fails, a simple spreadsheet for yourself with dates and content will help you stay on track.