Social Media Strategies for Community Theaters: The Power of Personal Connections

Have you ever wondered how recommendations and reviews play into your audience members purchasing decisions? Better yet, the source and medium in which those recommendations and reviews are delivered? You’re not alone…we were thinking about these same questions!

This wondering led us to do a little reading on the subject, and you’ll never guess what we came across: a recent study outlining the answers to our questions! Social Media Link (the study facilitators) delivered the answers in an excellent infographic.

Read on for more information about consumer perceptions regarding recommendations, reviews, and social networks, as well as how this affects your performing arts organization.

CC Image by AJC1
Image via AJC1

In Which Social Media Networks Do Consumers Place Their Trust?

Social media networks are not created equally in terms of their perceived level of trust. Social Media Link asked those surveyed: “To what extent do you trust a product/service review posted on each of the following online platforms?” Surprisingly, the most trusted social network was Facebook! In fact, 71% of those surveyed said that they trusted product or service reviews posted on Facebook. In contrast, with only 38% Instagram clocked in as the least trusted network.

CC Image by Lars Plougmann
Image via Lars Plougmann

Let’s consider this for a moment and try to understand why consumers might feel this way towards certain social networks. For instance, Facebook may be a more trusted source due to the way in which posts leverage both images and text. Instagram is all about the visual, so it may not be the most effective way to deliver a review or recommendation. Furthermore, Facebook has been around for more than a decade, while Instagram has only existed for five years. There is certainly something to be said for the longevity of a social network and its perceived trust value.

Where Do Social Media Networks Fit Into the Purchasing Cycle?

From product discovery to post-purchase advocacy, social media networks fit into every stage of the purchasing cycle. Social Media Link found that, once again, Facebook wins for product discovery while Twitter was the least influential in this purchasing stage. This is probably due to the different ways in which each of those networks operates.

CC Image by Jurgen Appelo
Image via Jurgen Appelo

Facebook ads allow companies to easily target and reach a specific demographic, and also have products and recommendations shared individually throughout personal networks. On the other hand, Twitter has a very vast reach, but relies heavily on a consumer already being partially aware of the brand. If a product isn’t directly related to a search that a user is conducting, it is far less likely that they will become aware of it through their network simply due to the rapid rate at which newsfeeds are updated.

Unsurprisingly, a retailer website is the most popular choice for consumers to gather information about a product, while once again Twitter is the least popular channel. This probably has something to do with the limited amount of information that can be conveyed within a tweet. At only 140 characters, it is nearly impossible for consumers to get a complete picture of the product or brand in question.

For post-purchase advocacy we see consumers sharing their experience and opinions on Facebook (likely for the same reasons as outlined in the product discovery phase). YouTube was the least popular channel to share opinions and reviews.

Who Is Most Influential in a Consumer’s Decision to Purchase?

77% of those surveyed said that close friends and family members have the biggest impact on their decision to make a purchase, so it doesn’t come as a shock that the most influential reviews and recommendations are those that contain personal stories. These two pieces of information clearly demonstrate the importance of a consumer establishing a personal connection prior to the product purchase.

In contrast, the least influential people in the consumer’s decision are celebrities. This would lead us to believe that, while celebrities (as well as professional bloggers) appear to bring with them a certain clout and expanded network, they are perhaps less useful in marketing efforts than normal people and genuine personal connections.

The Bottom Line

So how does this information affect your performing arts organization? Good question!

  1. Personal connections are critically important. Perhaps the biggest takeaway here is the idea of establishing personal connections. Your most valuable ‘marketing tools’ are also your biggest fans. Those that are regularly attending your performances and extol your praises to their friends and family.
  2. Nurture your Facebook presence. With Facebook consistently emerging as the most trusted and reliable network, it would be an excellent idea to make sure that your organization has a strong presence. If you’re unsure about how to do this or are simply new to the world of Facebook be sure to check out our previous articles on establishing your Facebook account.
  3. Carefully consider your message and medium. This study really illustrates the importance of considering both the message you’re delivering and the medium in which it’s being delivered, especially if your organization manages multiple social media networks!