A big part of what we do at CultureHead is help theatre and arts organisations with their digital communications -in fact we consider ourselves to be thought leaders in this space. Our expertise online is what separates from more generic agencies and has fast led to us becoming Ireland's leading theatre publicists.
When it comes to attracting new audiences to Irish theatre and driving ticket sales, as a communications tool, twitter is invaluable. However, many Irish theatre venues and production companies are failing to optimise their presence on the platform and engage effectively with their followers.
In our experience people don’t like the 'hard sell' on Twitter, If all of your social media interactions are about pushing ticket sales or promoting your brand, it’s likely your prospective buyers will quickly switch off. We advise that our clients engage their users through authentic online interactions: think about your twitter campaign as an extension of the theatre performance itself. Build your audience by adding real value to the online experience of your followers.
Imagine about the way in which you interact with people in the real world, if you meet someone new at a party you don’t keep talking about yourself, (that would be rude) you ask them questions about themselves. A good conversation is a two way exchange; it’s not about who can scream the loudest. Remember to keep the ‘social’ in your social media interactions always try to be authentic, play nice and make friends.
Below is a list of tips and advice we’ve put together for people in the Irish Theatre industry (or theatre PR gurus) to use the platform more effectively. The list is not all inclusive but if you're looking to put together the best theatre marketing campaign for your forthcoming production and your budget won't allow for a theatre publicist to do it for you. There will be some great advice here for you.
CultureHead’s list of tip for doing Irish Theatre PR on twitter:
1. Don’t be afraid to give a shout-out
Even if you view them as you competitors, supporting others in the Irish theatre industry and building good online relationships with other theatre companies is great way to boost your followers and credibility online. It will also help you grab the attention of your competitor’s audience. So don’t be afraid to give a shout-out to other venues or productions.
2. Do the Hashtag!
Choose a simple and short Hashtag for your theatre production, that’s memorable and make sure that all of the cast and crew are using the hash tag whenever they're active on social media.
3. Online Ambassadors
Get your cast and crew to become online ambassadors for your theatre show. A lot Irish people attend theatre shows to support a particular actor they know or admire. Harness the existing audiences, of your cast and crew by turning them into ‘online ambassadors’ for the show. Make sure they use your selected hashtag and also tag in the theatre venue whenever they post content onine.
4. Use twitter to tell a story
If you’re involved in theatre then you’re in the business of telling stories. Get the cast and crew to tell their story on the run-up to the production by giving your followers an insight into what’s going on behind the scenes. Remember do the hashtag!
5. A picture tells a thousand words (and increases your shares)
Get cast and crew to take photos and have a consistent stream of imagery lined up to share on twitter.
6. Invest in quality production shots
Whether you’re outsourcing the marketing of your theatre event to an agency, like ours, or looking after it in-house you need to invest in a professional photographer to take production shots. These images can be turned into content and used in the promotion your theatre event. A good photographer should supply you with shots that are high-res and can be used when you get that much coveted review in the Sunday Times or Irish Independent. They should also give you the same images in lower resolution jpegs which can be used for online/twitter content.
7. Optimise Your Content For Twitter
The banner or header area on your twitter page is prime retail space to communicate your brand and to tell people about your forthcoming theatre production. Use a quality image that will grab attention. Optimize the size of your banner graphic (1500x500) so that it fits perfectly on the platform. Likewise the images you post should also be optimised and you should make sure that the resolution is such that they will not appear distorted on screen. If you have not got a graphic designer on your team online applications like Postcron will optimise your graphics for you.
8. Use traditional media as content
When you get your theatre review in the Irish Times or the Irish Independent or wherever, maximise its reach by using the material as content to run back through your twitter account. Take a slick photograph of the review and tag in the cast, crew and any other key stakeholders when posting.
9. Use Video
This should go without saying. If you are not using video on Twitter to market your theatre or play you’re seriously missing out an opportunity to engage with your audience and convert them into to those precious ticket sales. Many theatres in Ireland are now creating slick promo videos in advance to promote their productions. However, if you’re on a budget your twitter videos do not need to be professionally produced and often people appreciate content that feels more authentic. Try shooting a quick interview on your phone with your lead actor backstage and upload direct to your account. Twitter has increased the length it allows for videos on its platform to 2:20 -but that doesn’t mean you need to shoot a video that length! Remember that online attention spans are decreasing all the time 30-40 seconds is the optimal time to articulate your message. HERE is a handy guide to learn more about how to use video on twitter.
10. Use GIF’s
GIF’s have been around since the beginning, there’s almost something nostalgic in their clumsiness. However it seems like only in the past 2 years they have risen to the top as an important tool for twitter marketing. This probably correlates to the drop in attention spans online. A GIF can articulate your message in 0-30 seconds on auto-loop. Over the past few months Twitter, whatsapp and facebook have all increased the integration of GIF’s into their platforms and are actively encouraging users to use them in their communications (they’re the new emojicons!). A number of theatres in Ireland have been quick off the mark to utilise GIF’s for the marketing of their forthcoming shows and events.
Online programmes like Giffy will help you create the perfect twitter GIF to advertise your play.
11. Use Lists
Twitters ‘List’ function is excellent and way undervalued as a tool for promoting Irish Theatre productions. Twitter Lists is a way of following and tracking specific accounts so that you can engage with those users or keep track of what they are up to. You can also set the List you create to private, so the user you have added does not need know that you are keeping an eye on them.
For example, we might make a Twitter list of : ‘Dublin Theatres’:
Abbey Theatre Dublin @AbbeyTheatre The Gaiety Theatre @gaiety_theatre The New Theatre Temple Bar @The_New_Theatre Project Arts Centre @projectarts Gate Theatre Dublin @GateTheatreDub , The Civic Theatre Tallaght @civictheatre
When we click into our ‘Dublin Theatres’ list, we will only see tweets from these key accounts, we can keep up to date and engage with them rather than miss out on their content. You could make another list of Irish theatre companies etc. Even if you’re not marketing a theatre performance, Lists are a useful way to stay up to date with what’s happening in the Irish theatre industry, discover new theatre jobs and opportunities or simply to create a guide for ‘what’s on’ an the moment in Irish Theatre.
HERE is a useful guide to help you create you first twitter List.
12. Track Keywords
Programmes like Hootsuite will allow you to track twitter users who use specific words, phrases or hashtags online. This can be very useful for during your customer discovery phase; find out where your potential audience is on twitter, engage with them and convert them into those valuable ticket sales.
For example when we were working on an Irish Arts Council production for the 1916 centenary programme, our team were tracking and engaging with any twitter followers who used the words or terms; ‘1916’, ‘1916centenary’, ‘Irish Patriots’, ‘Easter Rising’ etc.
The ability to track keywords is a wonderful tool for Irish theatre companies to locate and track their potential audience members online. Just figure out the key words related to your production, locate who is using them and engage!
13. Copycat Competitors
Locate accounts that have similar followers to the audience, you think, should be following your account. Then follow or copycat their followers. Software like Crowdfire will help you do this quite efficiently and will allow you to unfollow the people who do not follow you back. Here’s a good blog post where you can learn more about ‘How to Use Crowdfire to Manage Your Followers’
14. Use twitter advanced search
‘Twitter advanced Search’ is another great tool that Irish Theatres’ and production companies should be taking advantage of, when marketing their forthcoming shows. It’s a brilliant tool for audience discovery in that you can find out who is interested in topics related to the theme of your production. You can also search by location which means you will only be discovering tweets from an Irish audience.
It’s also really useful for finding relevant content to tweet about when you‘re doing up your content calendar or simply for finding out what people are saying about your theatre or production. We really couldn’t recommend it enough to theatre marketeers.
HERE is a guide to get you started on using twitters advanced search
15. Form relationships with key influencers
In the theatre world testimonials have always been important for converting potential customers into ticket sales. Find out who the Key twitter Influencers & Bloggers related to your production are. Create on-going working relationships with them, send them tickets and get them talking about your theatre show on Twitter. These people are important find them.
16. Auto DM’s are dead
It’s official! Twitter’s auto direct messaging is finished. Although we did make conversations in terms of ticket sales on behalf of our clients the whole thing had become rather annoying, so we think it’s a positive move on Twitters part. One thing to very careful of: if you engage in Auto Dm’s since October 2nd you run the risk of twitter suspending your account (poor Jedward have been shut down!). It could be a disaster, especially if you have spent a couple of years growing your audience. So be careful out there folks.
17. Promotions & competitions for theatre tickets.
An obvious inclusion but an important addition to your theatre marketing plan for twitter. Irish people love competitions, but make it good, ‘dinner and theatre tickets’ works well. Remember we are looking to achieve the maximum reach online so make ‘retweeting’ your tweet, part of the competition or even better get a key influencer to run the competition for you.
18. TAG @CultureHead
We never mind giving a shout out or plug to quality Irish Theatre productions feel free to tag us in and we will share with our network. You can follow us on twitter HERE.
19. Maximise Your Earned Media
This is so important for anyone out there marketing Irish Theatre on Twitter no matter what the size the production is. The most valuable piece of content you can achieve is earned media. Use tools like Twitter Advanced Search or track who is talking about you on Hootsuite. When someone says something nice maximise the reach of that piece of content, not just by sharing but by trying to continue the conversation for as long as possible. E.g “Thanks for coming along Mary! What was your favourite part?”
20. Online relationship management ORM for Irish Theatre
A major problem for the arts in Ireland is a lack of preparation when it comes to Online Reputation Management. Have a plan in place for how you're going to react if something goes wrong. Who’s going to deal with the situation and how will your brand respond? The best advice usually is to take the negative conversation offline as quickly as possible. So for instance if someone is on Twitter complaining about your venue or theatre show, apologise for their bad experience and give them your personal email address. In doing this you have taken the bad press offline and stopped it from doing further damage to your online brand.
CultureHead is Ireland's leading communications agency for the creative industries in Ireland.