Social Media Hacks for the Clueless

social-media-colalgeLet’s get serious – social media (to me) is one giant guessing game.  For the last month, I’ve been experimenting with our social media at work to figure out a pattern of what people like to see from us, what they interact with regularly, time of day they are online reacting, and what increases followers.  So, here is what I’ve learned:

  1. The same type of posts/articles never do as well as the first – You would think that patterns in your shares, likes, and retweets would be a sign to keep riding those inspiration video trains, quotes, action photos…etc, but what your viewers really want is variety.  They don’t want to come back and return to a page to see a similar post from yesterday or even last week.  Be sure to use various types of posts (videos, photos, articles, quotes…etc.) and mix it up when it comes to the types of posts you do.  Sometimes inspirational, connect with what is going on that day (national dance day or national boss day), or even something that your audience can learn from that relates to your clientele.  Whatever you do constantly be mixing it up.
  2. What works on one platform will not work on another – The three social media platforms we focus on are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  We are a very visual company so keeping our Instagram relevant with consistent activity is vital to the growth of our national and international events.  Unlike Instagram, Facebook is looking for content, while Twitter is looking for 280 characters or less.  One of the best posts I put on Twitter this week was a random thought I had about why I walk so fast and I related it to dance (type of industry I work in). It said, “I 100% blame dance for why I walk so fast. You can only have “walk with a purpose” said to you so many before you walk everywhere like you have 8 counts to make it.” This posts got one of the highest interactions we’ve had on that platform. People like a little sass in their tweets. A quick thing they can respond to is key to success there.
  3. There are dry spells – Unless you have original content you can pump out daily there are dry spells where not much interaction is going on. That has partly to do with sharing others content and not your own. We usually share at least two pieces of original content on each platform per week. I try to focus on videos, creative stories, or relevant info to our events.  As it gets closer to our event we have more original content that gets a lot of attention.
  4. Use as much new and relevant content as possible – Be clever in your posts. On Instagram I used an old image from West Side Story to talk about Justin Peck being announced as the choreographer for the upcoming Steven Spielberg remake of the film. We had a large number of likes plus numerous comments about excitement for the film and their favorite songs from the movie. Granted this content wasn’t original because it had been announced in a major dance publication, but by putting a twist on it and asking about people’s favorite song or memory it got people to talk.
  5. All videos need to be 2 minutes or less – Anything longer than 2 minutes for a video you lose people’s attention. Be sure that all videos that are original create the ‘FOMO’ (Fear Of Missing Out) mindset in your viewers. Make them want to check out your content regularly as well as sign-up for whatever you are selling.
  6. Post regularly, but stay innovative – Try to post at least 1x per day on Facebook and Twitter. For Instagram as long as your consistent with how much you post it doesn’t affect your numbers. There are numerous free sites to help schedule your social when you are not in the office like Later (for Instagram) and Hootsuite (for Facebook & Twitter). These are great tools to really layout your ideas, but be sure to save room for new posts that may come up that day.

Final advice – don’t over do it. Posting more than 2x a day on any platform doesn’t increase your followers or interactions (unless it’s on-site at an event). From personal experience I’ve seen our numbers go down (particularly on Facebook) when the event isn’t happening and we are posting random material.

I’ve learned over the last month that you have to constantly be looking for a new edge with your social. Just like our events, always having the mind set of what makes us different is the key to success.

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Artist Promotions – Times They Are A Changing

dont-ever-let-someone-tell-you-that-you-cant-do-somethingRiding the metro in Los Angeles you see talent and some people who are just beggars.  Yes, there is a difference between an artist and a beggar.  An artist doesn’t have to say “we are coming around with a hat and dream” after a performance in public.  An artist does what is necessary to improve their art on a daily basis.  It is not about gaining fame, money, or validation, but about crafting their skill.

This past Tuesday, a violinist and a guitarist were playing on the redline.  From the looks of these two young (20-something) African-American men they had just been riding up and down the redline playing popular songs such as The Fray (How To Save A Life), Michelle Branch (Everywhere), The Beatles (Here Comes The Sun).  Their honesty, conviction, and dedication to their harmonies and musical stylings had the train clapping after each song and numerous train riders giving them donations in their beat-up guitar case.  They didn’t ask for donations after each song; they just continued to play consecutively throughout the 30 minutes I road from the North Hollywood station to the 7th Street Expo Line connection.  This on the ground marketing isn’t a new thing, in fact, it was something that was designed before marketing was even considered a job.

So what is it about artist promotions that really creates a superstar like Taylor Swift?  Selena Gomez?  Mandy Moore?  Travis Wall?  Is it timing?  Is it having talent?  Is it hard work and dedication?  Is it having the right branding, marketing or promotions team? Working in event marketing the last few years, I’ve learned that you need a mix of things to make magic happen.  Here are my top five tips to bring your promotions to the next level:

  1.  Advertise Without Advertising – This goes for everything you do as an individual and as a company.  If you are an individual artist you want to show people why they should watch and pay attention.  You shouldn’t need to give a speech before your performance.  Let your talent speak for itself and let the curiosity of the audience make the choice to stop.  If you are a company promoting an event it should be about the people associated with the event (the talent), the people who have attended and their experiences as well as the business relationships you have with sponsors.  Each of these aspects always draws more attendees because they feel like they are missing out, or a new business who sees their direct competition tearing into another market that they haven’t touch yet.  Fear of missing out is a strong promotional tool and it is vital to show that in an advertising campaign.
  2. Be Active On Your Social Media – Yes posting regularly on your social media is important, but when I say be active on your social media I’m talking about interaction.  Following people or businesses that could increase your promotions on other platforms or bring you to the next level as an artist.  Also, interacting with your followers from Q&As to comments to videos that ask what they want to see from you.  As the saying goes, give the people what they want.
  3. A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words – Lots of promotional photos and videos are important.  It helps to develop marketing strategies, strong branding, and a cohesive platform on who you are and what you do as an artist or company.  Sit down and figure out what you want to show and present to the world and how you want to be represented.  Set-up photo and video shoots to stage promotional materials and constantly have someone dedicated to social media at events to get live shots and reactions from the audience and participants.  This is what is going to develop that concept of “fear of missing out” to drive attendance in the future.   Think about Coachella, LalaPalooza, or any awards show.  Each event has live streaming/broadcasting, they are constantly posting about the people at the shows and the talent that is performing.  It is always about showing someone something that could be their experience.
  4. The Personal You – Society is obsessed with people’s personal drama.  Think about Keeping Up With the Kardashians or The Bachelor.  The one thing about these types of shows is they help you invest in the people as they are sharing personal aspects of their lives to the audience.  Granted all of it is not real and probably a lot of it is staged, but the point I’m trying to make is let people get to know who you are – what you like (i.e. music, films), your friends and family, your favorite places…etc.  People want to feel connected especially if they are investing time and/or money.  Show them more than just your talent.
  5. Attraction – This may sound a little crazy, but bear with me.  No, I’m not talking about how attractive you are as a person, but what individuals are drawn to.  Think about when you see someone saving an animal that is in danger.  You are attracted to someone’s kindness.  Think about a new headshot with colors that make your features pop.  You are attracted to someone’s beauty.  Think about a big open space with no one around but nature.  You are attracted to the freedom.  Promotions are all about attraction.  What makes your audience tick?  What will get them to see the next show?  What will get your next follower to commit to what you put out?  Your audience is comprised of all different people from all walks of life.  You have to know who your audience is to make the impact you are looking for in this world.

In the words of Chris Gardner (Will Smith’s character in the Pursuit of Happyness), “If you want something, go get it.  Period.”

The Inner Workings of a Non-Profit Dance Comapny

There are two looks of a dance company. The dream-like state that the audience sees on stage, and then there is a reality to it. Being apart of the dance world since I was a child and understanding all aspects of the business side is important to running a dance company.

First you have the mission of the company. The message that the company is driven on. It should only be a few sentences long, and should be the basis of the company’s story. If a reader can’t figure out what your company is about based off the mission statement you need a new one. Next you have the artistic vision of the choreographer. There needs to be a way to present his/ her vision to not only to the general public through marketing, but to current and potential donors.

This brings me to the administrative offices. First you have the marketing team. The marketing team is what makes the company look good visually. For the marketing team you need photos shoots to happen at least once a year. This will allow new works to be photographed, new dancers to be highlighted, and old works that are coming out of retirement back into the current repertoire to be photographed with new casting. Next you have the development team. The development team writes the grants, researches foundations and government funding, does solicitations to individual donors, courts donors for major gifts, organizes and manages capital campaigns, and is the go to person for managing and maintaining relationships with the donors. A good development team is key to having a successful dance company because they are the ones bringing in the funds to keep the artistic product moving forward to new opportunities.

Since we are talking about money you need an excellent finance person who can be sure to monitor all areas of the company so overspending is not happening. Obviously, there is that old saying “it takes money to make money” but in a nonprofit it is vital to be breaking even. It becomes increasing difficult if the company gets into a financial hole to get out of it because not only can any one see your financial numbers if you are in the negative for multiple years, it will be difficult to convince a donor they are not giving to a black hole or that you are unable to handle your funding positively.

Finally, you have the management and executive staffing like the company manager. This person is equally important to artistic side as well as the administrative side because they are like a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth playing the in-between to presenters, lawyers, publicists, dancers, teachers, travel companies, record and publishing labels, and of course the executive and artistic director to be sure that the company is on the same page. It is vital that this person can work well under pressure, multitask, and understand the importance of what is a priority.

The next time you go see a dance company remember that all the people that work behind the scenes are just as important as the choreographers and the dancers; and without them, the inner working of the company would fall apart.