We are all connected. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo, Skype, Tumblr… chances are most people have at least one social media account to keep in touch with loved ones and keep tabs on each other. With over 1.2 billion people connected to Facebook alone, social networking is becoming an essential part of our lives.
As dancers, it’s imperative to get your name ‘out there’ but with so much competition in the online space, that can seem daunting and downright impossible, especially if you’re not confident using technology or don’t seem ‘up with it’ in terms of new ideas for things to post. Believe me, I’ve been there and it does make you feel frustrated when your voice isn’t heard among the many.
The first thing to do is to have a look at your competitors. What kind of online presence do they have? Who is their audience? What do they respond to? Are they responding at all? As a member of a fairly tightly-knit community you’ll be able to see what people are liking and commenting on, what’s popular and what hasn’t worked so well. Now take a look outside of the bellydance sphere: celebrities, big brands, events, personalities – what kind of social media activity do they undertake? What works for them? How does their audience respond?
Marketing is fundamentally identifying your target audience, understanding what it is they want, and finding ways to communicate or advertise to them to turn them into a customer. Once you’ve had a bit of a research, ask yourself – who is your target audience? Are you focusing on people living in a particular area? Perhaps you’re targeting expectant mums for a prenatal dance class – put yourself in mum-to-be’s shoes and ask where would she find your message online? When you have identified who you are trying to reach you can make more informed choices about how to reach this audience via social media!
For the purpose of this article I won’t be writing examples of what specifically to post however I’ve found that the following points are a good place to start in terms of content:
- Consistency in posting content regularly across all social channels
- Variation in both content and timing across channels
- Creativity in content to keep your audience interested in what you have to say
One person who I follow in the online space does this particularly well – US bellydancer/actress/writer Princess Farhana of Hollywood. If you haven’t read her blog, it’s absolutely fantastic! It has been aptly named Princess Farhana: Missives from the Royal Palace and features topics such as stagecraft, choosing makeup, costuming and positive body image. As a writer she has combined her skills to provide meaningful content that other dancers can read, enjoy and share with their social networks. Her instagram is an insider’s look into her crazy antics and performance adventures with some really fabulous flashback pics from her punk rock days thrown in for good measure. Her Facebook page is a bit more professionally focused with upcoming shows, blog links and performance pics featuring prominently to over 10,000 fans. On every account Princess Farhana shows a different aspect to her personality, both as a professional performer and as a human being. Very rarely do her posts overlap in content and it’s always engaging in some way!
Once you’re figured out who you are writing to and what you’d like to say, it’s time to get noticed. Among all the social chatter it’s now even harder to get your messages seen, what’s important is to now identify your point of difference. Whatever makes your brand unique, use this in your social media activity. If you can differentiate yourself in some way you’ll have a better chance of standing out in a crowd. Do you have term choreographies for students to learn? Show a snippet of what students can expect to learn via instagram or Facebook. Do you make all of your own costumes? Maybe writing a how-to guide based on your experience to show how much work and effort goes into looking great on stage. Whatever it is, show people creatively – these days an image and a Facebook post won’t get you much love.
Every day we are bombarded with advertising from when we wake up and our brains are programmed to filter out the ‘noise’ in order to cope. The same phenomena can be witnessed via social media feed – who doesn’t scroll down idly until something catches their eye and pause the screen? The first step in successfully marketing on social media is to make sure the stories you are telling are authentic to your brand, unique in their voice & relevant to the audience. The tricky thing about social media is that it is really a trial and error exercise, the more approaches you try the more likely you are to succeed. You cannot predict the behaviour of your audience, but at the very least you can offer meaningful content to encourage them to return to your page again and again.