Ask The Expert: Social Media for Audience Growth

Ask The Expert is a series from Laura Murray Public Relations that calls upon the expertise of arts and marketing specialists to provide insight and wisdom – to all industry professionals that read our blog – on how we can do what we do better. No matter what stage of our career, we are always keen to grow and hone our craft from those in the know.


For this edition of Ask The Expert, we connected with social media strategists working in arts and culture – online gurus with the know-how to apply social media as a tool to build awareness and understanding around a performance or event.


We posed the question: “How do you use social media to grow audiences?”


Sammie GoughSammie Gough

Marketing & Communications Director, Firehall Arts Centre


I love the way you can use social media to connect with and build community, both with people who see shows, artists, and local organizations.


We primarily use it to interact with audiences and share curated info, rather than direct selling. As a general rule, I find you’ll sell tickets as a result of using social media well, but won’t do a great job with social media by trying to JUST sell tickets. Especially on Twitter, it’s important share relevant info and not just talk about yourself. Tools like lists are fantastic for picking out relevant content quickly.


Using visuals and customizing them to a campaign is important – Shaw Festival are great at doing this, as are Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Tools like Photoshop, or a custom platform like Canva are useful for this. For our dance festival, Instagram is a fantastic way to post beautiful dance images. Last festival we had a few local artists curate Instagram content for the festival in the lead up, which was really effective for cross pollination.


Alice KoAlice Ko

Digital Media Strategist, Ballet BC


We’re really focused on humanizing our brand. We’ve ‘lifted the veil’ over the past year around the studio and during the performances to make our online community feel they are a part of our entire journey – that they are not just spectators.


Audiences and followers love interacting with us online as we’ve been showing them what it’s like behind-the-scenes – something they haven’t been exposed to before. Whether we’re giving sneak peeks into wardrobe, rehearsal – or even what our dancers eat for lunch (Instagram is great for #bts moments!) – we interact with our community closely and at a human level by truly listening and responding to their comments. It’s important to make our insiders feel valued – both in the theatre and online – and so we take their feedback seriously.


Brian PatersonBrian Paterson

Head of Digital, Laura Murray Public Relations


The decision for an audience member to attend a show is rarely instantaneous. For the vast majority of arts attendees, it’s a process that moves from general awareness to curiousity to desire to, ultimately, ticket purchase.


Once you understand this process, you realize that arts marketing isn’t so much about telling people to see a show – but giving them reasons to. This is what guides our use of social media.


When applying social media to audience growth, we try to take some authentic element of the final artistic experience – whether it’s a visual aesthetic, intellectual argument, emotional texture, or otherwise – and find interesting ways of conveying it in articles, photos, open questions, and direct engagement with members of the community.


The amazing thing is that – when you capture the energy of a work just right – it can actually improve an audience member’s total experience, as they arrive in the theatre emotionally and intellectually pre-calibrated for the performance ahead.


Categories: MPMG