Back in the day when someone was hosting an event, they sent out flyers or letters. Nowadays things are a bit different. Gathering large groups of people together requires communication across multiple channels, and successful events are promoted in a coordinated, strategic manner. One of our client's hosts a large dance festival every year in downtown Manhattan, and one of our challenges is to use social media to effectively promote the event and garner a large audience night after night. Engaging the audience on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and tapping into the network of each participating dance company is the key to reaching all of the right people for this unique event.
Before promotion of the event even begins there were several steps to prepare:
1. Brand the Event- One of the key elements to this year’s festival was the name. Every festival has a unique name that immediately brings up an image of what that event will be like. Firefly, Bonnaroo, Warped Tour, etc. The event should have a name that would be strongly associated with the characteristics of the event, its history, and its future.
2. Develop a Marketing Plan- We outlined our goals for the campaign, our target audiences, the channels we would be activating, the goals for the social media posts and our overall strategy for the campaign. We tapped into data collected from past festivals to establish our audiences. The social media effort for the 2014 festival reached over 300,000 people, so we set a higher audience reach number for this year.
3. Establish a Timeline- This was a key step in the planning for the festival. Within the marketing plan we created a timeline of social media posting: when to begin, how often to post, and all of associated art and copy needed deadlines. This timeline is our roadmap through the festival promotions and if there is ever a question or concern we can refer back and make sure everything was on schedule.
4. Create Posts and Gather Assets- The next step for the client was to reach out to all the participating dance companies to gather photos, videos, and information on their pieces so we could write knowledgeably about them. To draft and approve copy and images we used an edit calendar built with Google docs with the different channels listed on each date. All post copy was written and a system put in place for client approval of copy and image, so that no media would be posted without client approval.
Two months before the festival we began posting on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Each channel carries its own tone and was used differently to promote the event.
1. Facebook- Facebook doesn’t have a limit to how long posts can be so we used it to give full descriptions of each of the companies and the pieces they would be performing. We made sure to tag any of the companies' Facebook pages and communicate with them so they could share the posts with their own audiences.
2. Twitter- Twitter has a 140 character limit so we had to keep the posts short and sweet. We applied the hashtag to every post and linked back to the website with all the festival information. We also retweeted and engaged with any users who were talking about the festival to further the hype.
3. Instagram- Instagram is all about the beautiful image. We made sure we had feed-stopping images from all of the festival participants and attached 15-20 hashtags per post to capture the attention of people outside of our follower base.
During the Event
The dance festival is a six-night event free to the public, so there is an opportunity to engage with new audiences every night. We continue posting during the festival by announcing each day’s lineup, and posting live during the performances. This is a strong way to continue the conversation and garner a larger audience.
During the 2014 festival our social effort brought the client 285 new Facebook likes and 48 new Twitter followers, and the hashtag reached nearly 100,000 people. Social media can be an incredibly effective way to bring people together and promote incredible events all over the world.
Photo by Darial Sneed