The Art of the Business, Part 4 – Repeat After Me: “Facebook is my Friend”

For a downloadable or streaming audio podcast of this article, click here.

You could not possibly be a bigger holdout than I was with Facebook. I resisted joining for a really long time. I thought “why do I need yet another time-waster when I’m online? I already check my email obsessively, do I need to have the temptation to be checking Facebook all the time now?” But, like most other people, finally I gave in. And yes, spent way too much time at the beginning updating my profile and searching for friends. But then I started to realize what a powerful marketing tool Facebook was, and now I use it at least half the time for that purpose.

In case you’ve been in a cave this past year without television, radio, internet or newspapers, Facebook is an online social networking tool. It’s free—basically what you do is sign up and get yourself and account. Then you get your own page, or profile, where you can put information about yourself, what colour socks you like, what you had for breakfast, what your dog had for breakfast. Then, you create a network by asking people to be your friend. Once someone is your friend, you can message them, send them virtual gifts, URLs, that kind of thing. Facebook also has groups and events that you can create or join. If you create an event or a group, you are its administrator, and that gives you the ability to message all the members of the group. It’s fantastic stuff.

A few words of practical advice about Facebook. First off, I wouldn’t encourage you to create a group unless you are pretty famous, or you have something quirky going on (I belong to “If Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea kissed me, I’d be a happy woman”, for example). You can also create fan pages, but again, I’d steer away from that unless you are Great Big Sea, or a decent-sized corporation.

What I do is create an event for all of my clients. Because my work tends to be rooted in dates (show runs, etc), creating events is perfect for me. It allows me to upload all the event information, pictures, and videos, URLs for media stories when they come out, and I am able to message anyone who said they are or might be coming.

If it’s your first time creating an event, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Be really, really careful about your dates. While you can go back and edit a lot of things on your event page, the dates you cannot.
2. Make your event accessible to the “global” Facebook community. I once made it available just to the Vancouver network, thinking that anyone from out of town wasn’t going to come to see the show anyway. But not everyone (even people who live in Vancouver) belong to the Vancouver network. Tricky…
3. When you invite people to your event, encourage them to invite their friends.
4. Know that only your opening night (or the first date you have on your event) will show up in the updated information on your Facebook account. After that, if someone wants to find your event, they will have to search for it. However, you can still message people during the run of the show to let them know it is half over, closing Saturday, etc.

Facebook is good for other kinds of artists, too. Musicians and filmmakers can upload videos, photographers and visual artists can make photo albums of their work. Dancers and actors can upload demos and trailers.

A word of caution: as with everything on the internet, be careful about how much personal information you include. Don’t have your home address up there. A lot of people I know don’t even have their email address. Make your privacy settings high, so that people have to be your friend (ie: authorized by you) to see anything on your profile.

Facebook is a lot of fun. But it can also be a great way of getting the word out, and building a buzz… And yes, I will be your friend, but only if you mention The Art of the Business.

So, until next time, here’s to more bums in seats everywhere…

Rebecca Coleman

Rebecca is a contributing columnist and founder of Titania Productions, a Vancouver Marketing and Public Relations Company.

8 thoughts on “The Art of the Business, Part 4 – Repeat After Me: “Facebook is my Friend”

  1. “You could not possibly be a bigger holdout than I was with Facebook.”

    Au contraire. I now feel like I’m the last holdout standing.

    However, I did happen to notice (while browsing someone else’s FB to, you know, see what the fuss was about) that there are a couple of Van theatre groups already on the site, and from the looks of them, they’re pretty huge.

    I guess it really is nice to know who your friends are.

  2. I started the Vancouver Theatre group on Facebook almost 2 years ago, and started by inviting about 30 people. Now we are up to 1,367! Oh, the power of Facebook…

  3. That’s awesome Megan. Do you have any indicators or feedback on the success of the group as a promotional tool? How active is the group?

  4. Pingback: Facebook is my friend, except… « The Next Stage

  5. Actually, last year we were able to change the dates for our show as an event. The key was to change it just before it happened, like an hour or two before.

    What drives me crazy is shows using groups instead of events. Unless you’re touring and have multiple runs, you should be an event. I also can’t stand companies creating individual profiles for themselves. That’s how MySpace works. I like that in Facebook, you can communicate to individuals and then come together as a group. But those are my pet peeves – others don’t seem to have a problem with it.

  6. We’ve just begun using Facebook to market Seattle Children’s Theatre. Our first attempt was for Night of the Living Dead, as this was marketed directly to teens, a new experience for us. For that, I did use a page, and agree that an event would have been better.

    But now we want to set up an SCT page and promote each of our shows as event, and I’ve run into a problem. Most of our runs are well beyond the 31 day limit that Facebook places on events.

    Any ideas how to work around this?

  7. Hmmm… yeah, I wrote this a few months back, and since then, we have ‘upgraded’ to the new Facebook. If I am doing work for someone who has multiple events, I start a group for them, then spin the events off of it. The advantage is, you have people who belong to your group, with one button, you can invite them to your event.
    Your ‘beyond 31 days’ problem is something new to me. I guess because most shows I do have a three-week run. You may have to set up more events as time goes–break your run down into two events. Not elegant, but might work…
    I’m interested to hear the results!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s