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Advertising, Social Media and Streamlining

(fredcavazza.net via Flickr)
Do you use social media outlets to advertise your events? It's a simple goal to advertise our concerts and fundraisers using social media, but unpacking all of the terms, strategies, services and options available can become a full-time job, and one that seems very far removed from the rehearsing which we'd prefer to be doing. Nevertheless, either we, or someone else in our organization, should be able to use some basic services to help spread the word about our upcoming events.
 
The Basics
At the least, every organization should (in my humble opinion) use Facebook and Twitter to distribute concert information. There are myriad examples of how organizations do this, but I suggest a quick look at San Francisco Girls Chorus and Choral Arts as examples of organizations sharing information via Twitter, and The Choir of St John's College (Cambridge) and The Bach Choir for examples of Facebook Pages. These are far and away the two services which have the most reach and through which you can have the highest percentage of your audience "passively" subscribe to you. There are others as well which you may use personally or have heard of: Google+, YouTube, Instagram, or LinkedIn among others. I'd suggest, though, that each social network attracts a different speciality or subset of the population, and we may use these personally to share information with friends or to subscribe to people in whom we have an interest. When publicizing our groups, on the other hand, we want maximum reach for minimum effort, which is why I'd suggest Twitter and Facebook as your mass communication media.
 
I'm Only Going to Say This Once!
Even with just having two accounts, though, repeating efforts is miserable. Nobody likes repeating themselves, and broadcasting the same announcement twice (once on Twitter and once on Facebook) isn't a good use of time. If you use more than one social account, find ways to link them together. You can, for example, link your Facebook and Twitter accounts to that your tweets automatically appear on your Facebook page as well. Also, if you make use of many accounts (for example, your own Twitter account as well as your choir's), you may want to sign up for a service such as HootSuite. HootSuite lets you subscribe to many different social media accounts, read them all from one place, and post to multiple places simultaneously. Think of it as the social media equivalent of being able to access all of your email accounts in the same mail program.
 
It's Called A Conversation
One of the most crucial mistakes that people new to social media make is thinking about it like an email newsletter: you send information out, audience reads it. Remember that the whole point of social media is that it's easy for people to speak back to you-- don't forget to check your account every once in a while! If someone replied to an announcement you made, you should reply back to them. After all, it's only polite to respond when someone wants to talk about your group! Even better, if you are setting up a group account that will have little to no activity outside of announcing concerts throughout the year, make sure that you turn on email notifications in your account settings so that you will receive an email when anything happens with your account. That way, you won't have to check the accounts manually, but rather you'll get an email when anyone is talking about your events or posts.
 
What to Share?
Both Facebook and Twitter make it easy to share video and pictures with your postings. If you're announcing a concert, throw a picture of the poster up with the post for a catching visual. If the poster isn't done yet, have a choir member (or dropping-off spouse or parent) take a quick picture of the group warming up. Of course, the true gold would be to have a 30-second video clip of one of your pieces as a "teaser," but that's a tiny bit more time-consuming. If all you have is text, share the text, but it's pretty easy to find some type of picture or multimedia to include with your posts. 
 
Your Musicians are your First "Followers"
Once you have an account, you need to let people know about it! Posting a link on your blog or webpage is obvious, as is making sure that your Twitter and Facebook accounts are listed in the program. The reason that social media can be helpful to your advertising is that it is so easily shared, so to get those crucial first few followers, turn to your musicians. After all, they have a vested interest in packing the house too! Ask your musicians to follow the organization's accounts, and tell them when concert announcements are going out in case they miss them. That way, they can share your announcements with all of their friends and family with one click. Obviously, those of us working in school settings need to check with our administrations regarding policies about communicating with students via social media, but make sure to clarify that you are a) using an organization account, not your own, and b) strictly disseminating information regarding the choir ensemble.
 
Beyond the Basics?
How do you use social media tools to advertise your concerts or events? To do use anything besides Facebook and Twitter? Have you noticed a difference in attendance/tickets since using social media? Anything to share below?