With over 3.4 billion users worldwide in 2019 (1) and a global penetration rate of 45 per cent (1), social media offers marketers a great return on investment, enabling them to reach large audiences at a low cost (1). With half the world’s population now on social media, participating in social is no longer an option for the arts and the industry is taking note (2). A study by Ticketbooth (3) found that 72 per cent of respondents to an Australian survey on social media use for events found that Facebook was the main platform used to find an event, with one quarter of sales coming through a Facebook event page, making social campaigns a compelling way to secure sales. The question therefore is not should the arts be invested in these platforms, it’s how can the arts best leverage social media to increase engagement with audiences and subsequent ticket sales. For all the hype on social media means little to hard working arts organisations if they invest in social only to see little translation to an increase in sales. There are proven ways however to ensure that you’re using social media in the most effective way to build a community and enhance engagement, leading to an increase in ticket sales.
6 ways to increase ticket sales and social media engagement for the arts
- Sell tickets on social, including pre-sales
Audiences are socially connected and on mobiles, with users spending an average of 69 per cent of their media time on smartphones (1). Arts organisations need to make it easy for audiences to buy tickets from various channels, including social. Event organisers have recorded seeing an average increase of 20-30 percent per show when selling pre-sales tickets directly on Facebook (4).
- Be authentic
To engage with audiences on social it’s important not to think of social platforms as another way to blast information on activities, like another form of advertising. Arts organisations need to think of social media as a way to connect with audiences in a way that builds a community and leads to greater engagement amongst the social group, with audiences that share similar interests, enjoy conversations around and advocate for the arts (2). Responding to conversations on social requires sincerity and authenticity around values, topics and issues related to the arts as well as events and performers. Social is a great opportunity to offer more information and expand on topics in a two way and real time conversation amongst a community that isn’t available on other channels.
- Offer something special
Keep your social audience engaged and advocates by offering something special on social channels, whether this be discounted tickets, special seating arrangements or exclusive offers for sharing event details, re-tweeting or bringing a friend. Include a special offer just for followers and fans on social as it’s a great way to spread the word about arts events and the likelihood of a special offer being re-shared will be greater when people believe they’re receiving an exclusive reward (2).
- Foster shared experiences
Social media has been shown to be a natural contributor to growing ticket sales as fans share the fun and bonding with friends and family over arts events (5). Amplify the experience on social by fostering shared experiences. Encourage the use of your event’s official hashtag and make it easy for followers and fans on social channels to share event images and ticket purchase details (2). Instagram for example is a popular platform for viral promotion of events to large and broad audiences, quickly and efficiently, from the initial ticket sale to post event (5). Audiences post photos and updates on social channels in real-time as the action is happening and then afterwards as they recount their experiences with friends and followers (5).
- Listen as much as you share
Using data to listen to audience sentiment though social listening tools can improve your understanding of how people want to engage with your social channel or ways to improve the ticket purchase process. Additionally, social media tracking tools can be used to act and react in a timely way to comments and actions on social media and to also move people through from consideration to purchasing when social channels are integrated with ticketing platforms (5).
- Use associated social engagement tools, such as Facebook Messenger
Another way that arts organisations can engage with audiences on social is to start using associated social engagement tools, such as Facebook Messenger. Rather than being locked into Facebook algorithms that decide when and to whom your messages are displayed, Facebook Messenger can be used as a database to send out messages to all contacts as it’s less constrained than Facebook itself (6). Tools like Messenger and WhatsApp can be used instead of email or as a complimentary channel to email and send push notifications on the web. The use of messaging tools continues to grow meaning arts organisations also need to embrace the chat-style of communication. Software like Mobile Monkey (7), can be leveraged to build a database on Messenger as anyone who leaves a comment on a post is sent an automated message, thereby adding them to your Messenger list.
To best leverage social media for increased engagement and ticket sales, arts organisations need to embrace social media and learn how to best leverage social platforms. Growing social media channels and connecting with the right audiences are important as is gaining an understanding of followers likes, dislikes, preferences and purchasing behaviours by using data tools to provide important insights. Arts organisations can use social channels effectively to sell tickets by making it easy for users to purchase on social, offer specials to increase engagement and foster shared experiences to build a community and a loyal set of advocates with shared interests in supporting the arts.