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Cultural Recovery Fund: What Are You Doing Next?

The other day, cultural organisations across the UK received generous grants as part of the £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund. If you were one of the fortunate venues, festivals and more that secured funding, you’ll have a detailed roadmap of what to do next.

Whilst the core operational aspects of your business should be prioritised, you shouldn’t neglect your marketing activities. Maintaining a clear voice in these ever-changing times is more important than ever.

Whether your organisation is able to operate under the current guidelines or not, you should be laying the foundation for a communications strategy. One that restores consumer confidence, drives footfall and sells tickets when the time is right.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our best resources on everything from social media strategy to real-life case studies of running live events during the pandemic.

1. Back to Business

The challenges of many industries have been well documented throughout the pandemic, but none more than the Live Events sector. Social distancing restrictions and a ban on large indoor gatherings has decimated an industry that, as you’ll know, contributes millions to the UK economy.

Greenwich Comedy Festival was a shining success story amidst these dark times, and E1MA were proud to play a part in it. In this article you can learn how we devised and executed a digital strategy that presented the festival as a safe, secure way to enjoy comedy. Through our efforts, the festival fully sold out in advance and put much-needed smiles on people’s faces.

You can also read about how we drove online bookings with pop-up restaurant Karma Cans, and our part in the re-opening of the UK’s No.1 social gaming experience – Platform

2. E1MA’s Top 5 Tips for Marketing Venues

massive crowd watches musician at electric brixton

This may have been written just before the pandemic tightened its grip on the UK, but the tips inside are still relevant today. Your organisation can’t do much about the government’s social distancing guidelines. Instead, this guide focuses on what you can do to make your venue more appealing to potential customers.

Using our work with Phase, Platform and Noisily Festival as examples, we outline how to use photography to produce thumb-stopping social media feeds. We also emphasise the importance of consistent branding across your channels, and why micro-influencers are the best promotional vehicles you’ve never heard of.

Now more than ever, customers will be checking out your socials and websites before visiting. Make sure they’re in tip-top condition with this guide.

3. How to Sell Tickets to Your Event (Part 1 & Part 2)

This is technically two articles, but we have so much to say on the topic that we split it into two. Many cultural organisations are struggling financially. Whilst grants like the Cultural Recovery Fund temporarily alleviate these woes, ultimately your business will live or die based on how many patrons you can get through the door. 

As we predicted in our ‘What’s Next For Music Venues’ piece, advance tickets are becoming increasingly important. These guides demonstrate how to harness the power of social media to drive ticket sales.

Part 1 focuses on organic, non-paid social. Using our clients We Are FSTVL and ByDay ByNight as examples, our goal is to gently nudge customers down the purchasing funnel towards conversion. We stress the importance of consistent posting and using an array of different content types to grab fans’ attention. Chatbots can be used to provide information and event updates directly. Website link best practices ensure the fans click-through to the ticket site.

Part 2 is all about paid social. Social media advertising can deliver incredible results if you know what you’re doing. We run through segmenting your target audience and establishing objectives to ensure your communications are seen by the right people at the right time.

The importance of creativity in advertising cannot be understated. Through our work with Platform we illustrate the power of eye-catching visuals and how to write copy that converts.

Finally, we explain techniques such as A/B testing and why you should be continually monitoring the performance of your campaign.

For more digital marketing insights, check out the rest of our blog. If you would like to find out how E1MA can transform your business, contact us for more information.

Why Are ‘Stories’ So Popular?

The short, snappy format continues to dominate the social media landscape. But how did this happen, and why are stories more popular than ever?

Stories in 2020

‘Stories’ have become synonymous with social media – it’s hard to separate the two. The short-form, vertical format entered the mainstream in 2011 with the launch of Snapchat. Nearly 10 years later, despite Snapchat dropping in popularity, the rise of Stories continues elsewhere.

As we reported last week, both LinkedIn and Pinterest have launched their own versions – joining Instagram and Facebook in adopting the format. Rumours that Twitter are planning their own version of Stories, called ‘Fleets’, have also been circulating the media. All the major social media platforms are attempting to emulate the runaway success of Instagram Stories, which is used by 500 million people every day. 

Source: Buffer

A relatively new social media company named Bytedance harnessed the popularity of stories to create TikTok – which has over 1 billion downloads and 800 million active users to date. This was then replicated by Instagram with IG Reels. Social media companies are quick to take the ‘tried & tested’ features of a rival platform and implement them into their own service. 

As a result, The social media landscape is starting to look rather homogeneous – every platform looks the same (compare Facebook & LinkedIn‘s recent re-designs). But we should remember that social media companies simply adapt to ever-changing consumer preferences.

So the real question is: why do we love Stories so much? Here’s two key reasons.

They’re mobile-first

The attention span of the modern consumer is getting shorter. We’re being bombarded with so much information on our devices that our attention has become fragmented. Using social media can be mentally exhausting, which is why we spread those 177 minutes of smartphone activity across the entire day. Most people check their phones around 150 times a day. Stories slot perfectly into these ‘micro-moments’. Instagram, for example, has a maximum 15-second duration per story, compared to 60 seconds on the feed.

Of course, stories aren’t usually posted in isolation. The reason the format is called ‘stories’ is because they’re typically divided into parts, like the chapters of a book. It’s all about presenting content in small, manageable chunks. The average feed caption has doubled in length since 2016 – big blocks of text can be off-putting to social media users.

Compare this to Stories, where you can drop in and out whenever you like, and pick up a story wherever you left off. If one story doesn’t interest you, you can simply tap to the next one with minimal effort.

In the case of Instagram, it even orders stories based on how likely you are to watch:

All these actions make engaging with stories incredibly simple, which is one of the reasons why they’re so popular. Humans are cognitively lazy and are hard-wired to prefer the simple over the complex. This is valuable advice that can be applied to many areas of marketing, including content creation.

They’re less ‘polished’

Social media users have long felt pressured into presenting their ‘best selves’ online. Instagram in particular is known for it’s carefully-curated feed posts. However, there is mounting evidence that users are abandoning the ‘Instagram aesthetic’ in favour of more genuine, unpolished content. Stories are the perfect way to realise this.

The reason this shift is taking place through stories is because they’re temporary. They’re only viewable for 24 hours, meaning creators are under far less pressure to post the ‘perfect’ shot. As you can’t directly like or comment on a story, users are more likely to post what they want, not what will generate the most likes.

Let’s not forget the fact that stories are simply great fun. Pen tools, filters and gifs allow people to truly express themselves. Newer features such as interactive stickers gave us new ways to interact with our audiences. No expensive cameras or photo-editing software needed.

Concluding Words

We’ve seen so many creatively executed stories over the years, and expect to see countless more moving forward. Almost every major social media platform has incorporated a version of the stories format. As we’ve outlined, the reason Stories continue to be incredibly popular is because they seamlessly slot into modern life. They’re simple, fun and mobile-first. And they aren’t going anywhere.

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