Advice from a social media strategist.
This is part of a series of articles with guidance from experts — a costume designer, a tax guru, medical practitioners and others. Check back in the months ahead for more.
Gabriela Simich, a social media strategist for a Los Angeles ad agency and former professional ballet dancer, explains how a great online presence gets you where you want to go. “Dancers are ahead from the start,” says Simich, whose clients have included entertainment network DanceOn and French hip-hop duo Les Twins. “You already have the photos and videos that are much of social media’s content.”
Here are Simich’s five top tips:
#1. Must-Have Platforms
“Top choices include Instagram, because it’s about photo and video, where dance works so well, and YouTube, because people love watching dance videos,” Simich says. She considers Facebook essential because it’s today’s digital address book and because it makes sharing with a huge range of people very easy.
You may already have both personal and professional Facebook pages. Simich says you get the most out of posts on your pro page by sharing them on your personal page as well; this will cause them to pop up in friends’ timelines. “Share wisely, though,” she advises. “Don’t overwhelm friends with your professionals posts.”
After you’re comfortable with these three platforms, you can bring in additional audiences by expanding to such options as Dance.com, Twitter and Snapchat. “Also be on the lookout for more platforms adding live video streaming,” Simich says.
#2. Work It
Putting effort into social media makes sense if it supports your business plan and your month-to-month activities, Simich advises. For example, while you’re rehearsing, you can draw audiences into your world with behind-the-scenes material. Drive responses with a call to action. Do a survey. Seek opinions. “This versus that” questions are irresistible, says Simich. Ask if viewers like one performance ad or another, for example.
When your show is up, post video teasers. If you’re on tour, show the places you’re visiting, along with your performances. In addition to planning your social media presence carefully, allow room for improvisation — an unexpected meeting with a pop star, dancers against an amazing sunset, an incredible meal.
To develop your style, check out what others are doing. Of Simich’s many favorites, she points to Andrew Winghart’s Twitter feed, which is witty and energetic, with posts appealing to a younger audience. She admires Francisco Gella’s Facebook page for its inspiring commentary.
#3. Feeding Frenzies
Social media platforms show trending topics. Simich encourages clients to feed off this energy by jumping in and posting their related content. The headlines or short introductions you give posts are important, but be sure to leave some mystery so people are curious enough to click, she says. To learn how to do this, notice which posts you open as you swipe through a feed.
Include hashtags. This is a number sign in front of a descriptive word or phrase that lets viewers search for your post. #Dance or #DancerLife are obvious choices, but you can also get creative, says Simich. If you will perform in a theater, park or other venue, see what hashtags are on its pages and choose some that will help its audience become aware of you ahead of the event. But don’t go overboard. “Two to five per post is enough,” she says.
#4. It Actually Isn’t All About You
Linking to other people, places and events — such as a composer you’re working with and her concert, or your photographer and his art show — makes your pages a destination for exciting ideas. Meanwhile, you give audiences a better sense of you.
Become part of the wider conversation. Lots of individuals use Snapchat, but big organizations — ESPN, CNN, Cosmopolitan magazine and more — have set up channels there as well. Check out Snapchat’s Live Stories section, where you can join in by posting your material related to a location.
#5. Testing, Testing…
Scrutinize behind-the-page data: What are your best and worst posts? Has your following grown? On Facebook professional pages, for example, you can check the Insight metrics to see how posts performed. The information also shows when your audience tends to be online, so you can publish when you’ll reach more of them.
When including links in a post, Simich uses smart urls created through sites like Bitly or via Google’s url tool. These services shorten long urls and allow you to track their popularity. This information will demonstrate whether your social media strategy is working or needs a tune-up.
“A social media presence takes time to build,” says Simich. “It’s like dance technique or choreography. You have to work at them, but, meanwhile, you should also be having fun.”
By Stephanie Woodard of Dance Informa.