New on Festival Bytes: Engaging your audience online in 2013

10 January 2013

How to engage your festival audience online in 2013? In her first blog on Festival Bytes, Digital Marketing and Brand Consultant Claire Heskin explores some basics; in the months to come she will share deeper insights on social media in festivals. Claire Heskin works closely with the Association of Irish Festival Events and IFEA Europe, training and mentoring their festival members on integrating digital media into their marketing strategies and exploring digital media cultural collaborations. It is evident that for some festivals, social media is still a daunting and intimidating marketing tool but, like festivals, social media is all about quality not quantity. It is about selecting a few elements and executing them in a way that best engages with the target audience. After talking to many festival teams of late I feel that focusing on some basics would gain greater audience traction online in 2013. Video Video content generates some of the highest audience engagement online. Festivals are perfectly positioned to create entertaining, creative and innovative content for sharing online. What better way to entice new audiences or sponsors by showing them a video of your last festival or a preview reel for your upcoming season: show them the performers, the captivated audience and any space that contained (or could contain) sponosor’s branding. Twitter Influencers The best way to reach your target audience on twitter is through twitter influencers; people in the media, in politics, in culture who have a large twitter following that includes your target audience. Engage these influencers & harness their online power to communicate your message. Invite radio presenters, directors, local politicians to performances and let them know about your festival’s twitter presence. Those who engage are likely to tweet about it to their followers and RT your festival content. Twitter Hashtag The twitter hashtag # is one of the best ways to follow an online conversation about your festival. Print your hashtag on marketing material; on posters, on programmes, put in on the website. Your audience can only use it when they know about it. Wifi Facebook checkins, Twitter hashtags, Instagram. With smart phones the ability for your audience to engage & promote their festival experience has never been greater. Providing free wifi in festival venues could be the very best way to maximise your audience’s interaction and gather immediate feedback, reviews and commentary. Festival Blog A great website should contain all the information a potential audience member needs to attend the festival at the click of a button. But, if your festival relies on your website for ticket sales, as a space for sponsor branding, as the place where you broadcast changes to the programme etc you need something to continuously encourage traffic to the website leading up to and during the festival. A blog can be the perfect way to attract your audience to the website each day to view new content, and when they are there why not entice them with your latest ticket bundle special offer! Kilkenny Arts Festival do this really well. Timing A final thought. When the final performace comes to a close, and the festival team breathes a sigh of relief after another successful year, organisers look forward to little more than some well deserved sleep. But remember, it is at this time that your audience is most energised about their festival experience. Its the hours following the festival that you can gather the most valuable audience feedback, make sure someone is responding!