Nicola Mullen, Company Chameleon, shares her involvement as a Digital Marketing Academy (DMA) Fellow.
When I set out on my DMA journey in May, I had no idea what my learning would look like on the other side in December.
My initial primary objective for taking part in the DMA was to increase the number of people who engage with Company Chameleon through stronger digital marketing. Very quickly and after a mind-blowing first mentor session with Tom Beardshaw, I realised that this objective was far too broad, considering the size and scope of the digital marketing landscape that was out there to explore.
So one month in, I changed my primary objective so it was more focused. My new objective simply stated – to make better use of Facebook, and wow, the psychological difference this made had an instant effect. I no longer felt overwhelmed with everything I didn’t know and instead felt excited about everything I could know and learn more about through experimentation.
Six months on, I’ve made many discoveries, and in writing this third and final blog, I’d like to share with you the discovery, which I’ve found most exciting.
Company Chameleon is a dance theatre company which tours across the UK and internationally. In 2016, we performed in over 30 different venues in cities and towns across the UK and Europe. With this programming – performing in front of 30 different audiences in 30 different locations – comes an audience engagement and development challenge.
With limited resources and one part-time marketing lass, how do we start a conversation with each of these 30 audiences in the different locations ahead of our performances to generate interest and awareness? Additionally, once audiences have seen us perform, how do we continue the conversation so we can build audience relationships?
Through my learning on the DMA, I’ve discovered that Facebook might just have the answers to these questions, and on that note, I’d like to share three ways in which touring companies can maximise on Facebook as a marketing tool.
1) Audience targeting
“Audience targeting helps you show your ads to the people you care about” says Facebook. In marketing Company Chameleon’s autumn UK tour of Witness, Facebook has excelled as a marketing tool because of its targeting abilities.
Not only have I been able to target six geographic locations separately and all together at the same time, I’ve also been able to target adverts in relation to age, gender and interest.
The premiere of Witness took place at The House at Plymouth University. I knew from talking to the University’s marketing team that their students compose a large percentage of their audiences. This meant in the build-up to the premiere, I could promote content via interests to people on Facebook who listed their university as Plymouth, thereby targeting the students who go there.
For other venues such as Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal and The Lowry in Salford Quays, the venue provided me with postcodes so I could target audiences geographically, which I teamed with an interest in contemporary dance.
In January, Company Chameleon tours and performs at the Purple TanzFestival in Berlin and for the first time I plan to use Facebook to raise awareness ahead of the shows in Germany. Thanks to dance being an international language, our video content should spark interest among potential audiences, just as it would here in the UK. The key is to talk to the right audiences and we can do this through targeting people interested in contemporary dance.
For touring companies, Facebook enables you to engage audiences that live in the many geographical areas that your touring programme encompasses. Whether you’re performing in Plymouth, Kendal, Salford or Berlin, Facebook gives you the power to reach out and engage the exact audiences that you want to talk to.
2) Pixel codes
However, through Google Analytics I’m aware that there is an increase in the number of visitors to our web-site during busy touring periods, plus, there is synergy between the touring geographical locations and where the website visitors live. This would indicate that ticket bookers are visiting our website before / after seeing performances.
Through using the Facebook pixel on Company Chameleon’s web-site, an advert can be set-up on Facebook, which targets website visitors and asks them to ‘like’ our Facebook page. Once people ‘like’ our page, we can start building a relationship with them through sharing quality creative content, which deepens engagement.
For touring companies the Facebook pixel creates an opportunity to continue the conversation with audience members once a show is over and to build relationships with audience members who have expressed further interest in the company by visiting the website.
3) Market research
Unlike venues who can hold focus groups with their audiences to inform market research, such research is more difficult to conduct for touring companies. However, through setting up an advert set on Facebook, you can test ideas – focus group style – quickly and at very little cost.
My DMA experiments to date have focused on testing what is the most cost effective way to get quality likes on Facebook. In my last experiment, I tested six different images keeping the other variables the same – the copy/messaging, time of publication and target audience.
Within 48 hours of the advert set going live, the results showed that one image was clearly outperforming the rest. This prompted me to turn off the other five adverts and keep the strongest one live, so we could maximise on our investment.
Facebook gives you the means to carry out dip-stick research with your audiences quickly and cost-effectively. Whether it’s a front cover image for a new season brochure, the title of a new production or a campaign key message, Facebook gives you the ability to make decisions based on data not hunches.
So these are three simple ways that touring companies can use Facebook to engage and develop audiences. Of course, this activity needs to be integrated with other comms and intelligence, such as segmentation research from Audience Finder, for maximum impact. But Facebook has undoubtedly changed the game for touring companies in relation to their marketing and audience development.
I find this truly exciting and my learning will underpin Company Chameleon’s marketing strategy for 2017. Thanks to my time on the DMA, next year’s strategy is looking very different to last year’s – and this is a good thing, as Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”