October 2013 | Mindful Marketing | Social (Media) Savvy

O13_Mindful Marketing
By Misty Lown

Most studio owners say they use social media. But there is a big difference between being on social media and using it as an effective marketing strategy. The idea is to get your audience involved, share value-added content, and get friends and followers to share your message.

Facebook power

With more than one billion users, Facebook is one of the biggest social media platforms. If you are not using it to showcase students, promote events, and make important announcements, you are missing out on powerful, free marketing.

For a good example of how to go beyond typical posts and promos, follow Emily Weber of Yorkville Performing Arts Center in Yorkville, Illinois. Among many unique posts, she gave a $5 credit to studio parents if they posted on Facebook that they had registered for classes (and sent her a screen shot as proof).

It’s one thing to make a post that will be seen by my studio “friends”; having the post seen by thousands of my clients’ friends takes it to the next level.

I adapted Emily’s idea by asking our parents and students to post: “I just registered for fall classes at Misty’s Dance Unlimited! Have you? www.mistysdance.com/registration” in exchange for the credit. This got posting traffic going and allowed viewers to register from the link.

The best part about this kind of promotion is the compound effect it has on visibility. It’s one thing to make a post that will be seen by my studio “friends”; having the post seen by thousands of my clients’ friends takes it to the next level. And it has social credibility because the post comes from them, not me. You can run similar promotions with students.

Finding the “you” in YouTube

Video is an excellent way to get prospects to “see” your students without stepping inside your studio.

Use videos you already have—recitals, community performances, and competitions—to set up a YouTube page. Then expand your presence by developing content: alumni interviews, news coverage, clips from events, or instructional videos (on how to make a bun, for example).

To make parents smile, try doing something similar to what Katie Owings of Inspiration Performing Arts Center in Mahtomedi, Minnesota, did. She posted a video of preschoolers running across the studio floor, throwing their hands up, and saying, “I am wonderful!” at the end of class.

Instagram: where the students are

With square cropping, vintage-looking filters, and easy mobile posting, Instagram is a popular photo-sharing platform. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, Instagram is growing at almost twice the rate of its parent company, Facebook. That’s some serious traffic!

Take advantage of the interest by running a contest. Invite students to post pictures of themselves in their favorite costume or best tilt pose and hashtag it to your studio (#yourstudioname). Even better, run a contest in which students take “selfies” while wearing your studio gear to school; the post with the most “likes” wins.

Get in the action yourself by posting a picture of children hugging in class; hashtag it with #loveteachingdance and #yourstudioname. Or post a picture from a community performance and hashtag the venue. Don’t forget about master classes, team nights, and dress rehearsals. You can also use hashtags to evoke an emotion: “We’re offering modern next year! #soexcited #yourstudioname.”

Words to the wise

Make sure the release on your registration materials covers using images and videos of students for social media. If you don’t have a release, ask before you post.

Stay focused. It is better to be active and well represented on two or three social media platforms than to sign up for many sites and not do much.

Balance your posts. I find the highest degree of interaction comes with two to three posts per week. Posting too much becomes white noise to an overstimulated audience. With too few posts, you’ll lose momentum.

For every post that asks for registrations, do nine posts that are fun, conversational, or informational. Your audience will leave if you sell too much.

Consider assigning weekly posts to an assistant. You don’t have to do all the work, but it’s important that you, and your studio, are represented.