From Edinburgh to Adelaide (and everywhere in between), a Fringe festival is one of the most important dates in any creative’s calendar. As we all know, however, competition is fierce and standing on the mile every hour you’re not needed at your venue isn’t always enough to ensure an audience - let alone enough money to pay the bills.
Even big-name shows can struggle to fill their venue every night and finding unique ways to showcase your work is vital to attract visitors through your venue’s door and ensure longevity for you work in the future. Here are our tips for making the most of what the online world offers.
This one’s fairly obvious and the vast majority of theatre companies nowadays understand the importance of using social media. However, not so many do it as well as they could do.
Social media offers an unparalleled opportunity to be incredibly exciting...for a relatively small investment. Make the most of it! Don’t just share endless reviews and tweets about your show. If someone’s following you, they’re probably already aware of what you’re offering and interested in seeing it. If someone isn’t, soulless star ratings won’t be enough to sway them.
Think what your show is about and who your audience are. What would be the best way to communicate to them? For example, if you’ve got a musical, could you try using periscope to show the standard of singing live? Or, if you have a show on Shakespeare, try and create word problems/games using quotes that fans of the playwright might enjoy.
Similarly, think about how you’re going to get the message out there; having great content is useless if it’s not reaching its intended audience. Social advertising could be a consideration - I recently ran an experiment on my own blog’s Facebook to see how expensive advertising for a Fringe show would be. I targeted a blog post on some of my ‘top picks’ at this year’s event to people visiting within 17km of Edinburgh (but that don’t usually live there), combining interests in very specific events and arts names. For £2.00 I’ve seen 53 link clicks, lots of likes, shares and comments and over 1,735 have seen it at a cost of less than £0.04 per link click and a relevance score of 10 (the highest you can get on Facebook).
The post wasn’t particularly inspiring, nor would I say it took longer than a minute to create. For less than a cup of coffee, I’ve not only managed to reach nearly 2000 people but got many more engaging with my offering and it’s all because of effective targeting. Knowing that people visiting Edinburgh at this time of year will probably have at least some interest in the fringe (especially if their interests elsewhere on Facebook are arts related) means a captive audience for even the least inspired of content. It’s a unique opportunity for advertisers on Facebook who normally have to fight to make anything they share as organic and unobtrusive as possible - where viewers are likely already actively seeking precisely what you’re selling them. You’re just making it easier for them to find.
Think of flyer costs and the ratio of how many you give out to get one visitor to your show, and it soon becomes clear how much potential online advertising has - if you use it correctly, that is. What’s more, I recently read a report suggesting around 60% of audiences to the Fringe are actually from EH (Edinburgh) postcodes - start targeting early, before your competitors are, to locals in that area and you may already have the ‘word of mouth’ angle before you start.
If you’ve got a bit more money to spare, you can even get a Snapchat geofilter 905,255 square foot around part of the Royal Mile for $274.41 (approximately £211.51) for around three days. Whether or not it would be accepted by Snapchat (probably unlikely) would be another matter - but it shouldn’t stop you trying.
Guest Articles and Interviews
Reviews: let’s face it, they’re what a lot of us put ourselves through hell to get, and managing to bag someone from a big name at your show is about the best (and worst) feeling of the Fringe rollercoaster. However, as we also all know, reviewers have a likelihood of turning up on the night you least expect them to - when everything probably will go wrong.
Reviews will always be important (especially as you’ll likely want to take your show to another venue moving forward), however never neglect the opportunities you have in the build-up to your show which for immediate success are arguably more important. Pitch your show for interviews, social media mentions, guest articles...anything you can! Begin your strategy as early as possible and think outside the box when it comes to outlets. Remember a lot of people attending the Fringe won’t be in the arts themselves - where does your ideal viewer work? Do they have any specific interests?
Think who your target audience outside the arts is - are you covering a show that covers health issues for example? Try targeting professional publications and blogs in those specific industries, rather than just (the still very important) arts channels. An arts site will usually have press releases everywhere in their inbox - if you’ve caught the press team mid-flow they won’t give your information the proper dedication or space it deserves. Thinking outside the box can help get coverage and attract the right people to your offering.
What is your show offering?
The biggest mistake people make when marketing their show is trying to copy what everyone else is doing. Your show is unique (or at least it should be) which is why you’re taking it to a Fringe in the first place. You’re at one of the most creative events in the world; make the most of it and don’t be afraid to try something new.
I’ll never forget the effect of seeing an old, unwell man walking down the Royal Mile for example (while flyering myself) and feeling an instant heart rush of emotion. It took me (and everyone else I knew) quite a while to realise it was actually the writer and actor behind An Evening with Dementia, but every single person I spoke to knew exactly who I was talking about and about the show itself. From what I can remember, it was sold out for most of its run; with critical acclaim and a Fringe first to boot. I’m not saying that’s because of the way it was promoted, but the method showed audiences exactly what type of show they were to expect and made an impact a flyer amidst a sea of others never could. Digital offers you an alternative way to do exactly this - not every show can make a stand in-person like that one; digitally, however, it’s all about how creative you’re feeling!
Want advice on social media marketing, outreach or general promotion? Drop us a message or follow us on Twitter.