Guest Commentary: Venues, artists, and social media: You’re doing it wrong Guest Commentary: Venues, artists, and social media: You’re doing it wrong
During a panel at the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) conference in Phoenix last month, an industry veteran on the panel asked members... Guest Commentary: Venues, artists, and social media: You’re doing it wrong

During a panel at the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) conference in Phoenix last month, an industry veteran on the panel asked members of the audience how many had a person on staff whose job it was to focus on social media marketing. Only one person in the room of about 150 venue managers raised their hand.

Ouch.

Now, just because there’s not a dedicated head doesn’t mean that venues aren’t participating in social media. I follow about 200 venues on Twitter, and “Like” about 90 on Facebook, and for the most part, they are using the media effectively: tweeting about upcoming shows, posting links to YouTube for artists prior to onsales, and conducting various contests and promotions to increase their audiences on the respective social networks. This sort of activity is necessary now, as today’s audience inhales information from a magnitude of different angles on the net. Many enterprising companies have built tools to make social media marketing easier on venues, which absolutely see results from it: increased sales and ever-expanding social media reach.

What’s missing, then?

This may be tough to admit, but very few people come to see a show at your venue strictly because of the venue. While engaging in social media as the venue is necessary, it is incomplete as a social media strategy because it fails to leverage the most important (and socially relevant) element of the show: The artist.

Perform a quick survey for me. Look at your next three shows. Now, go over to www.nextbigsound.com and look up the artists’ social media sites. Visit their twitter and ticketnews-on-facebook pages and see how many have mentioned your show or provided a ticket link. I’ll wager that you’ll go 0-for-3 (I surveyed 10 venues: six clubs and four arenas, and went 0-for-10). Now, take a look at how many followers and fans they each have. See where we’re going with this?

The majority of artists aren’t utilizing social media effectively enough to make it easier for fans to buy tickets. Very few artists ask their fans to come out to the show. Why is that? Sure, you’ll see a lot of tweets and posts like, “Hey, Nashville rocked last night, thanks so much to our fans!” But you rarely see “Hey Nashville – I’m rockin’ the Exit/In this Friday. Get your tix at www.exitin.com, and meet me there!”

I don’t know why more artists don’t do it. Maybe it just gets overlooked, maybe it’s taboo, maybe it’s just rarely asked for. Regardless, artists’ social media networks are a great untapped resource for driving ticket sales. A mention of your venue, a link to your website, or an artist’s direct promotion of the show will increase awareness, drive ticket sales, and expand your online audience. That’s a win for everyone.

Ask for these three items from the artist’s management for your upcoming shows, to augment your existing social media efforts:

1. A listing on the “Events” app of the artist’s Facebook Fan Page with a link to your webpage. (Hopefully, your webpage has ticketing links on it. If not, you should fix that.)

2. Two Facebook mentions from the artist’s Fan Page: one when tickets go on sale and another two weeks out from the event. Make sure your venue page is “tagged” in the post. If you’re able to sell tickets directly on your Fan Page, that’s even better.

3. Three tweets from the artist’s Twitter account. One when the show is announced, another when tickets go on sale, and a third one week prior. Make sure every tweet has a shortlink to where fans can buy tickets, a hashtag of your venue city, and a “tag” of your venue’s Twitter account. A typical tweet will look something like: “Hey #Birmingham, I’ll see you at @workplaybham October 22! Tix onsale Sept 1: http://bit.ly/tx4bham”

To measure the effects, track website traffic and purchase conversions generated by these mentions. Track the increase in your Twitter followers and Facebook fans as well. Task your social media expert (you’ve got one on staff now, right?) with tracking completion of the desired mentions and aggregating the data. The data will empower you going forward and hopefully convince any skeptical artist managers to fulfill your requests.

In the end, venues and artists share a common goal: to reach more fans and sell more tickets. A collaborative strategy whereby both venues and artists leverage their social media reach is an easy and inexpensive way to achieve that goal.

Eric Housh is the Chief Marketing Officer for TicketBiscuit. He has over a decade’s worth of experience involving the architecture, deployment, and optimization of digital marketing programs. Prior to TicketBiscuit, Eric was Manager of Communications for Intel Corporation, where he pushed the adoption and proliferation of rich media, video, and social media. Eric received a Bachelor of Science degree from Birmingham Southern College in May 1998, and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Services Marketing and Management from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University in 2002.

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