When was the last time you played hide and seek? Probably, like me, it’s too long, but do you remember the delicious adrenalin rush as you frantically searched for that perfect hiding spot that would win you the game?
When you play this game with a toddler, they hide by simply putting their hands over their eyes. In their minds, if they can’t see you then you can’t see them. Gorgeous.
Most community theatre companies run their online marketing strategies like they have their hands over their eyes. A Facebook page is very different to your personal profile and if you try to use them the same way, very few of your fans will see anything you post and when they do, the content won’t be sharable [Facebook gold].
Please, please, people – realise that you have to learn some new skills to make social media effective within your marketing strategy. Throwing up a few images occasionally is not a strategy and is totally useless in the online world of marketing.
There’s a lot to learn but here are 10 simple things you can do to take your Facebook page from playful toddler toward being a marketing grownup:
1. Update your ‘About’ section.
Make sure you actually have some information in this section. I’ve looked at so many local theatre pages and I learn nothing about the company. Such a waste. Use the elements of this section to allow fans to know you better. You won’t need to complete all of the sections, just the ones that apply to you.
Potential audiences will choose a show from a company they know over one they know nothing about.
The ‘Short Description’ section shows up on your front page so check it fits in its complete form.
2. Choose your Facebook web address.
Did you know you actually choose your Facebook URL? In the About section, you can change your URL from the random numbers and letters you initially get when you create your page, to your name of choice but you only get 1 go at this so think it through before you change it. Obviously you want to change it to your company name.
CLICK HERE to go to the Facebook Help Center for instructions.
3. Add your ‘Other Accounts’.
Link your other social media platforms to this section. Facebook’s preset list is a little limited at the moment but you can get Instagram and Twitter on there at least. Your fans are generally on more than one social platform so cross promote everywhere you can.
Don’t forget to add your website address in the relevant section.
4. Manage your tabs.
On your home page under ‘More’, click ‘Manage Tabs’. This section allows you to choose the tabs that show up on your home page and you can also control the order they’re in. You might use the photo section in a big way or you have a great series of videos that show your company in a good light. Shift these tabs around to suit your company’s specific needs.
5. Choose a ‘Call to Action’ option.
One of the new Facebook page options is the Call to Action button that sits over your cover image. You can change it as you need to but one obvious option is the ‘Book Now’ button. You simply add a URL link to the relevant page on your website and people can click straight through to booking tickets.
When you’re between shows, change it to signing up for your email or just to your ‘Contact Us’ page.
6. Tidy your photos.
Put your photos in albums so that people can choose what they view. Pouring through hundreds of random photos is ok for about 30 seconds but people soon get bored and move on. Set up albums with information in the description section. You might set them up by production, opening night social pics, or fun behind the scenes. You can then use each album link to post to your Facebook page timeline occasionally [think #throwbackthursdays].
7. Create useful Cover and profile Images.
This is where I see most companies go wrong. Their images are random, have no focus, or contain too much text. Your goal is to create images that other people will share. This improves your engagement level and increases your chances of getting into news feeds organically, ie. without paying to ‘boost’ the post.
Facebook controls how much of your posting gets into fans news feeds and have done since Facebook monetised pages a little while ago. You have to pay to play now. The more your fans like, comment and share your posts, the better your organic reach. This is Facebook gold but if you choose to boost a post there are restrictions on how much text is in your image.
Use Canva.com to create your cover image. This platform has already created a template in the correct size and prevents you from putting anything in the image that will end up under your profile picture. You can upload you own photos and the final product will be perfectly optimised for Facebook.
When you create your profile picture, make sure everything fits in properly. It should be 180 x 180 pixels maximum. This icon is what everyone will see every time you post so it’s worth getting right.
8. Share images in the right size for the platform.
Facebook will look for images that are optimised for social media. Use Canva.com again to easily create images for your social media platforms [Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest images are not the same size] that are optimised properly. Facebook will favour them and you will also end up with a consistent, professional finish that your fans will be impressed by. I use Canva.com because it is quick and simple with everything I need in one place, including templates of social media images in the correct sizings.
9. Focus your image content.
Choose a high quality, single image for your cover photo. Don’t do the ‘show every production we’ve ever done’ trick. You need to have a single focus in the image that says one thing to your audience. Promote your current show, or promote your next auditions. Have your website URL on the image and remember that, if you intend to ‘boost’ the post, you will have to limit the text or Facebook will reject it.
10. Be original.
If you intend to use images and add your company details to them, make sure you own the copyright or have permission to use the image. I have seen companies pull images from the web and use them as their own, not realising that they are breaching copyright in a very public way. Take your own images or use images from one of the many royalty free image sharing sites available.
Social media is an inexpensive way of promoting your shows and when used properly, it can make a big difference to your marketing strategy. When used badly, it is an ineffective waste of a good volunteers time. It will take a little time but learning to use social media for your marketing is worth it if only to make sure your audience knows you exist amongst the many community theatre companies available to them.
If you have questions about how you’re using social media in your company, feel free to contact me. We need to equip and encourage each other in community theatre to expect more and be extraordinary.
An Idiot On Stage exists to equip and encourage community theatre to expect more and be extraordinary.