One of my favourite pastimes is flipping through my Grandmother’s old photo albums from her theatre days. Unfortunately she can’t see them anymore so she can’t tell me much about them, and because there isn’t any text attached to them, the important information about the shows is lost. This got me thinking about how Grandma’s albums applies to image marketing in your theatre company.
So often I see headshots of some new cast in a community theatre show shared on facebook and I want to bang my head on my office desk. The person in the shot looks happy but it’s just a headshot and, as the important information hasn’t been shared with me in the image, a massive marketing opportunity is lost.
It’s important for theatre marketers using facebook to understand that most of your fans won’t see what you post on your facebook page. Facebook controls much of what gets into personal profile newsfeeds from pages. This has allowed them to monetise facebook. It doesn’t matter that I’ve liked your page. I won’t necessarily see anything from it in my feed unless you have a high level of engagement by other users. You can pay to ‘boost’ your post [pay money to release it into personal profile newsfeeds] but this is not necessarily the best place to begin because it encourages you to get lazy on the most important factor in your online marketing strategy – your content.
Having your fans actually ‘sharing’ your content is your ultimate goal. Facebook will view it as increased engagement on your page, allowing more of your page content to get into newsfeeds. People share a good post and ignore a boring one. There are many great discussions online about what makes good post content. A really helpful place to begin getting your social media geek on is socialmediaexaminer.com, with information for beginner to advanced marketers.
One opportunity many theatre companies miss is the fact that they have a marketing team within their own company – their cast and crew. Encourage them to share what you post on your facebook page and you have instant engagement but make sure that your post is worth sharing or they will be reluctant to get involved.
Cast headshots are a perfect example. You can’t ask your cast to share this.
Out of context, it’s just another selfie. Present it like this,
and they now have something to proudly share with friends and family. What’s more, every time they share it, their friends see your company, the show and your website URL. That can equate to hundreds, sometimes thousands more people seeing this information.
With just a little more time on your part you have increased your marketing reach dramatically and it has cost you nothing. Use a simple platform like canva.com [my favourite idiot proof, free online graphic design platform] and you’ll save even more time as you can use the same template for each production, simply changing the show details. This also creates brand consistency for your company.
Simple step by step to preparing and using cast headshots on facebook.
- Use canva.com to create a facebook post template that contains the relevant information. Read ‘1 Easy Way to Create Online Marketing Gold’ for detailed instructions.
- Insert a cast member’s headshot into the template and save a copy to your computer. Do the same for each cast member. This will also ensure that photos are a consistent size.
- Reduce the resolution of all the saved images to a size suitable for uploading to facebook. You can do this easily by right clicking the image and ‘opening with’ Microsoft Office Picture Manager. Click ‘edit pictures’; choose ‘compress pictures’; choose ‘documents’ [‘web’ will reduce the resolution of your image too much]; click ‘ok’ then save the document. Office Picture Manager will save your document as a JPEG file.
- Create a facebook album of all the headshots, with the following information in the headers:
- Album title: Show name | year produced
- Description: Your company name; date range of shows; performance venue; company website URL; and photography credits [who took the photos].
- Upload all the prepared headshots at once so that they are released on facebook together.
- In the photo description, list the same information as you listed for the album but add the cast members name and role:
- Show name | year produced
- Your company name; date range of shows; where performed; company website; and photography credits [who took the photos].
- Leave a space and add the actor’s name and the role.
- If you have time, it’s always nice to add a short bio for each actor.
- I often have to do this for about 45 actors/show and have reduced the time it takes by uploading all the photos, adding the information [less actor/role], copying and pasting it into all the other images, then adding the actor/role for each.
Now, when images are shared individually, the important production information always goes with the photo.
- Communicate with all cast and strongly encourage them to share the album, or at least their own photo, on their own timeline.
- I’ve found posting on facebook around 12noon to be the most effective as many people check facebook on their lunch break. The effects of their interaction [sharing, liking and commenting] carries on for the rest of the day.
It’s important to remember that facebook is not a silver bullet. It has to be a part of a much larger, proactive and deliberate marketing strategy but it’s a great place to begin when you have a limited marketing budget.
An Idiot on the Stage is published every Tuesday. Sharing 30 years of community theatre and small business experience, my intention is to save the sanity of those running small theatre organisations, with the occasional article for actors thrown in.