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Industry Pro

Theatrical Marketing and Social Media - An Important Part of the Ensemble, But Not the Star of the Show

Social media is how you cultivate your current audience, but when it comes to building new audience members, the tools provided by the platforms aren't the solution.

What Social Can Offer

Social media offers a lot of advantages as a marketing tool - a way to really engage with your audience on a personal level, new ways to learn about your audience and who they are, as well as the potential to go viral at a low cost (maybe only your time). While "going viral" would be great for your marketing efforts, building your marketing plan around going viral would be a bit like building a house on a foundation of sand - it might work out, but more likely than not your house will come crashing down around you. So let's take a look at some of the advantages that social media can offer on which you can build a foundation - one that won't shift out from underneath you, but actually make you more aware of when a shift in messaging is what is needed.

Instant Engagement with Your Audience

Many of the social media platforms view themselves as some form of the digital public square, and in many ways that is true. These are the places where your audience is having conversations - both with you and about you. By consistently engaging with your audience, you can not only engender feelings of goodwill within your audience, you can know in real time how people are reacting to what is currently on stage and what you've announced as upcoming. You may even be able to take the temperature of marketing efforts taking place outside of social media - though there are other metrics to consider for each effort on its own before you finalize any kind of change. One caveat about audience conversation on social media - remember that the loudest voices in the room often win in these scenarios, and that those loudest voices don't necessarily reflect the wider opinion of your audience. Utilize social as a starting point for these conversations and always dig a little deeper before making any big programming decisions.

Tools to Build Buyer Personas

Your audience on social media is likely reflective of your current, and potential, audience. One of the powerful tools that many of the social media platforms put into your hands is in depth information about the demographics of your audience. Take a look at them and see how reflective it is of your audience. You can then utilize this information to build strong buyer personas and craft your marketing to attract new audience members who also match that profile. Or, if you notice that there is a demographic entirely lacking in both your audience and your social channels, you can build a persona and marketing plan to start building out your audience. Most social channels have these same insights available, and you should be sure you're taking steps to understand not only which channels reach which audiences, but using them to understand your audience as a whole and how best to reach your current audience and expand your audience.

Reach New Followers Through Brand Partnerships

One way that you can reach new audience members that are on these social channels is to partner with an existing brand to market your upcoming productions through their social reach. This leverages the consumer trust in that brand to bring them over to your pages where you are able to continue cultivating them as part of your audience. This is an important part of many marketing programs that we build at BroadwayWorld - we love linking custom content that we create with you to our social channels - tagging your company's social pages in the process.

The Pitfalls of Social Media

Social media is not without its many tradeoffs - we'll take a look at a few of the potential pitfalls in a moment, but the bottom line is that between increased social awareness of toxicity on these channels and increased regulatory scrutiny, there is a greater understanding that the power of the marketing tools provided by social media companies are not all that they're cracked up to be. While it is a vital place to continue to nurture your audience and engage in conversation, the risks are important to be aware of, and are such that it doesn't make sense to put all your eggs in the social media basket when it comes to marketing.

Facebook and Social Targeting Ability is Consistently Misrepresented

As one Facebook executive put it in documents obtained by The Intercept: "More than half the time we're showing ads to someone other than the advertisers' intended audience." The file assembled by sites like Facebook on users contains demographic information, the information about the ways they have directly interacted with Facebook (what pages they like, information they've provided in their portfolio), and behavior information that is assembled from third party tracking data based on purchases and other types of information. Not only was this information shaky at best before, increased regulation and security upgrades from both governmental agencies and the browsers consumers are using means that this data will continue to be less than reliable as a way to target new audiences via social media.

Consumers Are Sharing Less Data As Well

Harris Poll data suggests that "Almost 80% of consumers are more aware of how companies collect and use their personal data than they were 12 months ago. As a result of that, 71% of consumers share less data with brands today." That awareness has only continued to increase as consumers become more aware of the ways they can protect their data from advertising. As consumers put less data into the social networks, that gives the networks less information by which to target your marketing. Consumers will also find themselves with an even clearer option to opt out of sharing their usage data with social media platforms, as recent changes to the iOS app store require platforms that utilize this data to request for users to opt in to sharing that data, giving them an even shallower pool of data to draw from.

High Performance Will Cost More than You Think

One of the seductive pieces of making social media the central pillar of your marketing plan is that the sticker price that they offer seems so cheap. Especially for companies that are operating on extremely tight budgets, to look at an offering that allows them to put together an entire campaign for $1 or $2 per day can seem appealing - but outside of the fact that your marketing budget is definitely too small if this is your thinking - that $1 or $2 campaign is unlikely to drive the kind of response that will move the needle for your company. Once you start comparing CPM's across multiple marketing platforms, you can quickly see that the CPM of your Facebook campaign can be many times higher than a campaign you might run to the audience of BroadwayWorld, for example. Especially compared to what the CPM cost might be to run a campaign that is targeted to an audience of theatre lovers in your area - something that Facebook by their own admission is unable to deliver on a reliable basis.

Social is an Important Part of the Marketing Puzzle, But Not the Solution

In the production that is marketing your upcoming shows, social media is an important part of the ensemble, but it definitely isn't a one-person show. While this is the perfect spot to cultivate your current audience, keeping them both up to date and in conversation with you during the times when they aren't able to be in your seat, the marketing tools provided by social media aren't necessarily all that they're cracked up to be. To learn more about how BroadwayWorld can help you make an efficient marketing spend to find new audiences and to enhance the audience cultivation work you're already doing on your social channels, then click here to request a media kit and one of our sales representatives will reach back out to you shortly.

We've also got all kinds of tips and tricks that we can't wait to share with you about how to make the most out of your social media in the world of theatre. Next week, we'll be hosting a webinar all about social media for theatres and production marketing with the BroadwayWorld Social Media team. Check out the description below and click the link to get registered!

Industry Pro Webinar: The Ins and Outs of Social Media for Theatre with the BroadwayWorld Social Team!

Join BroadwayWorld's Chloe Rabinowitz and Taylor Brethauer for a discussion of the in's and out's of the various social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook Twitter, and tiktok), how BroadwayWorld has grown their accounts in the last year, what posts they've found to be successful, how best to work the algorithm, and what the biggest trends (and how to spot them) are on theatre tiktok! The presentation will be followed by a q+a to answer your questions about social media.

Join us Wednesday, February 24th at 3pm Eastern!

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From This Author Alex Freeman