Social media and digital marketing set to become the real stars of 2010 FringeThu 29 Jul, 2010 // Tartan Silk
As Edinburgh gears up for another busy Fringe season, this year's top performers have already emerged with an almighty buzz and a following of thousands; the only catch being they won't actually be appearing at the Festival.
The secret weapon up the sleeve of a many a performer; Twitter, YouTube and other forms of digital marketing have quickly become the unsung stars of the Festival. Providing artists and performers alike with a platform to promote their work to an unlimited number of potential audience members.
With web and social media quickly out-moding traditional methods of advertising – such as flyers and posters – industry experts are now predicting that performers without their finger on the digital media pulse could quickly become lost in the swathe with 2,453 shows set to hit the city in August.
Search engine marketing expert Chris Liversidge from Edinburgh based SEO company QueryClick gave his take on the rise and rise of digital marketing at Festival time:
“It's no surprise that the real success stories from the Fringe are often the shows with a solid social media or digital strategy behind them.
“Digital media isn't reserved solely for the web-savvy. Anyone can jump online and create their own website for absolutely nothing. Pursuing a web presence lets you protect your brand and wax lyrical about your show details via informative and compelling content which should ultimately help to drive ticket sales through the roof.
“Promoting yourself online allows you to set achievable goals like “For every 100 visits I want to make 2 ticket sales” but, more importantly, lets you measure the success of your efforts; something which has always been hard to do where printed advertising is concerned.”
With the likes of YouTube proving the ideal playground for performers whose acts thrive on the visual nature of magic, dance and street theatre, other web applications like Twitter serve up the perfect starting point for pithy one-liners.
This year has even seen one performer in particular – comedian Tony Cowards – opt out of coming to Edinburgh altogether in favour of broadcasting his show entirely on Twitter, as Tony explains:
“As a jobbing comedian I'm used to performing to audiences of about 100 hundred people but with Twitter I'm getting a much wider audience, one that's limitless. Using social media is less of a financial gamble compared to going to Edinburgh which is a bit like buying a lottery ticket in terms of getting in journalists and creating a buzz. With Twitter I'm in control and have created my own buzz; the 1,500 people I have following my account @noticketshow is testament to that.”
It's not only the performers who have noticed the benefit of social media as a Fringe Society media spokesperson discussed:
“Facebook and Twitter and various social networking sites are a really helpful tool for performers and audiences alike at the Fringe.
“The Festival Fringe Society, as an open arts festival does not curate or select the participants and with such an array of amazing and unique work on offer audiences choose different ways to select the shows they want to see. For many people, social networking is an engaging way to learn about shows from the participants themselves and from other Fringe goers.”
With 5 star reviews across the board it's no surprise that social media and digital marketing are capable of keeping audiences coming back for more, even long after the performers have packed up and headed home; as industry expert Chris Liversidge explains further:
“When the Fringe finally comes to a close and the street cleaners set to work tidying up the flyers and posters, anyone who invested in their digital spend can be safe in the knowledge that their site is still generating interest and value in terms of links, search results and PageRank.
“By search engine optimising their websites, performers and producers can make sure they’re one step ahead of their competitors in 2011as well as promoting dates outwith the Fringe calendar and building a community of supporters.”
In a bid to help as many people get up to speed on the benefits of digital marketing as possible, Chris Liversidge has put together a list of top tips for those looking to get a hang of the industry in a hurry:
- Set up your own website: Squarespace.com is a great place to set up an SEO-friendly website easily and free of charge for a trial period. It's almost idiot proof so get stuck in!
- Choose a domain name that suits your act: When it comes to web addresses you want them to be easy to remember, spell and say. Don't use abbreviations or complicated words. Instead opt for something that is in-keeping with your show that allows you to protect and keep control of your brand. Thinking about whether your web address can be said easily over the radio is a good starting place. And remember: your show name will change each year, so unless you want to migrate your site each time (a big SEO no-no) use something you're happy to keep and build on over the years.
- Content, content, content: Nobody wants to visit a website with boring or uninformative content. This is your chance to wax lyrical about your show, who's in it, preview comments, where it's being performed and how audiences can find their way to the venue.
- Don't forget to sell tickets: If your show is ticketed you'll want to sell, sell, sell. To do so make sure website visitors have the option to buy tickets on every page as well as encouraging them with call to actions - otherwise known as 'sales pitches' or 'shameless plugs'. Sites like Squarespace allow you to add eCommerce pretty easily but you can always put a link through to the relevant booking agent or company if you aren't selling tickets directly.
- Keep it social: Twitter and Facebook are key tools when it comes to advertising and marketing your show via social media. Always remember to link back to your home site to drive through more visitors & to keep control of your show - if you build up a following for your current show, then you'll have to start over again with your next show. By linking back to your site for people to get details you can simply update your show details in one place - your webste - and all your followers on all the social neworks will be getting the correct information. Furthermore, it's important not just to use social media for the sake of it. Instead offer visitors unique, exciting and informative content that will leave them coming back for more.
- YouTube it: YouTube is particularly important for acts that rely of visual impact. Set up a YouTube channel under your company or performer name and, again, remember to link back to your home site where people can buy tickets. It's important not to disable comments on your YouTube page. While developing a thick skin is advisable, positive comments can encourage increased ticket sales and also provides you with criticism which can be used constructively.
- It's time to analyse - Once you've got your site up and running it's important to look at traffic and how visitors interact with your website. Google Analytics allows you to do this for free and can encourage you to set goals like 'For every 100 visitors I want to make 2 ticket sales'. Observing figures is encouraging and allows you to set milestones as well as assessing when the best time is to launch a ticket offer or send out your e-newsletter.
- Don't forget to promote yourself - Promoting your website can pay huge dividends. Promote your website via web directories, on friends' websites, social media and - if you're lucky enough to get press attention - make sure they print your web address in any article, brochure or listing.
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