This is a guest post by Stefanie May, the Marketing Director for The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester NY. Image by Scott Harris. 

As marketers, the word “engagement” is thrown around a lot, especially when it comes to social media. So in this day and age, how do brands keep their fans engaged on social? 

Standing out and connecting with your fans is actually easier than you think. If there’s one thing I’ve learned by serving as The Capitol Theatre’s Marketing Director, it’s that authenticity is everything and taking the time to be real and genuine with your fans pays off. 

When you’re thinking about your social strategy, consider this: How can you share who you are while also allowing your fans to share their story with you? Your venue is their home away from home, so here are five tips to consider.

1. Ask questions that spark emotion and inspire conversation

Everyone has a story and most people would love to share theirs. Try asking personal questions in your content that keep the conversations going. You can use free apps like Adobe Spark Post to create an eye-catching, text-based image with your question to share on Facebook. For example:

Instead of asking, “Who’s your favorite band/artist?”

Ask your audience, “Who introduced you to your favorite band/artist? How has your life changed since then?”

Asking the first question will likely result in one-word answers, but the second question will inspire fans to tell a personal story that can continue to live on your page. Here’s an example of a recent post The Capitol Theatre created that asks a unique, open-ended question:

The post reached 53.3K people and engaged with 12.8K people — all by asking a simple, creative question!

2. Use your authentic voice

If your venue is an intimate room located in a historic downtown, make sure you frequently share stories, articles, and photos about your venue’s history. You have an opportunity to carve out a spot for yourself as an influencer within your community.

A great way to do this is partnering with your local tastemakers. Try hosting a scavenger hunt on Instagram by hiding a pair of tickets at a local pizza shop or interview a local brewmaster about a beer you currently serve on tap. This type of authenticity speaks and works wonders because if you embrace where you are, your fans will embrace you.

3. Highlight your staff and their accomplishments

Hit a home run on social by showing behind-the-scenes appreciation and love for your staff! It takes the hard work and passion of your team to plan and execute great live music events, and your fans will appreciate getting to know the faces behind your production crew, box office staff, ushers, street team volunteers, and anyone else that helps make the magic happen.

Our team recently did this by highlighting our head usher and his favorite shows from all six years at The Capitol Theatre. We posted the interview to Facebook and our fans loved it. It’s a really great way to build your live music community from within.  

4. Respond to and engage with your fans  

Make sure to consistently check comments and notifications on your social media channels. A best practice is to search hashtags specific to your venue (e.g. #TheCap) to see what fans are saying and then engage with those posts with a like and/or a comment. Your fans will appreciate the extra love from their favorite venue and that will result in loyalty down the line.

Aside from direct conversation, there are other ways you can engage with fans. At The Capitol Theatre, we recently started running recaps of our shows on social simply for engagement with our audience. This recent video is from our two-night, sold-out show with Ween that happened December 15 & 16.  

5. Find your unique “thing” and own it

Every venue has a unique characteristic that contributes to their brand personality. If you don’t know what yours is yet, get creative with your team and find out what that “thing” is. Does your venue have a mascot? A slogan? A mission statement? Once you know what your image is, support it and portray it. And remember, it doesn’t have to be totally serious. It’s okay to be silly and find some humor in everything you do. If you have fun, it’ll show and shine!

6. Target your paid ads to relevant groups

If you’ve mastered all of the above, you may ask “How do I keep my fans coming back?” The answer: relevant, targeted ads. The fact is, if you want your content to get in front of fans, you have to pay for it, which is why identifying a paid ad strategy that works for your venue is crucial. Targeting the right audience at the right time is an integral part of our strategy at The Capitol Theatre.

For example, we’ve found that most of our fans buy tickets Wednesday through Saturday. So we run our ads in bursts, typically for 3 days with a set budget of $50 each the weekend leading up to the show. In terms of targeting, we target a few different groups and A/B test different ad sets to determine which are performing better:

  • Our owned audience, which consists of fans who visit our website, subscribe to our email, and our past ticket buyers
  • A Lookalike Audience of our owned audiences that excludes the above
  • Artist affinities
  • Connections to headlining band pages on FB
  • Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences based on past ticket buyers for a specific show (for example, if Dawes played The Capitol Theatre before and we’ve now announced a new show, we’ll go back and make a list of all past Dawes buyers and target them plus a Lookalike Audience)

Looking for more tricks and trends around music venues? Check out 2019’s Pulse Report.

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