The 5 Biggest Trends in Social Media and How Theater Companies Can Use Them

 Photo credit: Andrew Neel

Photo credit: Andrew Neel

We’re just getting into the swing of 2018 and there is LOTS to be excited for in the world of social media for theater! This post was inspired by Buffer's podcast "The Science of Social Media." They did an episode on the 5 social media trends for 2018 - this blog post takes that idea and expands on it for the theater set.

Note: I also did a Facebook Live with this theme. You'll find the video at the bottom of the post.

Focus on Generation Z

Younger than Millennials, Gen Z is anyone born between 1995 and 2017. That puts the oldest at 22 years old when they are just getting out of college and entering adult life. Which means they’re starting to spend money and build relationships with brands. According to a Goldman Sachs study, many businesses are finding this generation more valuable than Millennials. And Business Insider found that 74% of Generation Z prefer to communicate face-to-face with colleagues. Prefer seeing people face to face? Doesn't that sound like someone who would love theater? Here's how you can tap into what the U.S. Census Bureau called 25% of the population.

  • hold special subscription options for high school, college, and recent grads on social media platforms they use - like Snapchat.
  • create ticket promos that bring their Gen X parents or Baby Boomer grandparents out with their favorite teens - advertise on Facebook so the grown ups will see it
  • make sure your lobby has Wifi and look into special Instagram Stories filters for opening nights.

Focus on ChatBots and Messenger Apps

I made a video for one of my clients after their CEO interviewed a marketing big wig at an event a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what she said.

You know how on Facebook you can chat with your friends via FB Messenger? Now services exist where you can reach out to your audience via this channel as well. I used this quite a bit with one of our clients before they had a few shows in New York City. Ticket sales were brisk and there were many questions about their Waitlist. I was able to respond to them in real time right away. Now, imagine this on a bigger scale where you can hook up what's called a Chatbot to automatically engage with your audience to solicit reviews, answer sales questions, and get feedback. There are Chatbots that can do that for you so you don’t have to be sitting by the computer or on your phone the entire time. Great opportunities for opening up a dialogue with your audience. 

I've kicked the tires on ManyChat and see a whole lot of options here. 

Influencer Marketing


When Seth Rudetsky sent one tweet out a few days before one of my clients’ shows, he was directly responsible for tickets being sold and a number of new sign ups to their email newsletter. He has clout in the theater world. Who do you know who has clout in your community? Can you get that person to come to a show and send out a tweet or talk about it on Instagram? 
I also like NinjaOutreach.com which sets you up with influencers in your geographic location and sphere so you can find people to reach out to.

Ephemeral Content


Ephemeral Content is the fancy marketing way of saying "content that goes away after awhile." 300 million people use Instagram Stories every month. By the end of 2018 that number will be much higher. I recently wrote a blog post about how great Instagram Stories is. NOW is the time to start posting to Instagram Stories and Instagram Live to cut through all of the noise in the regular Instagram News Feed. 

How to work it into your schedule? If you're posting to Instagram five times a week, choose one day to post to Instagram Stories instead. 

Video, Especially Live


I've been encouraging our clients to be on Facebook Live since LAST January. Facebook is making a number of changes to its algorithm and is becoming more of a “pay to play” format - meaning, if you want your content to be seen you’re going to have to pay to Boost posts and run ads. So many of your posts just won’t be able to get to your audience’s News Feeds. FB Live, however is the exception to this rule. Facebook puts a lot of stock in its Live platform and there’s good reason for it: FB Live has better engagement. People contribute more comments, react more, and generally watch live videos for longer. For example, users comment on Facebook Live videos at ten times the rate of regular videos. So get ready to go live - and here's a checklist before you do!

Do you have to do all of these in 2018? No. But many of them are simple and free ways to engage more with your audience in the way that they want to be reached in 2018.

Want to get social media coaching on this and many, MANY other features? Find out what Downstage Media has to offer. 

Watch the Full Facebook Live Going Through Each of These Trends