Tips and Techniques for Attracting New Patrons

Tips and Techniques for Attracting New Patrons
Featuring your show on Improv Tonight is one of the many ways to share your production!

Attracting new patrons is imperative to the long life of a good project! This blog post is centered around growing your social media following and putting your show in front of fresh eyes.

Prepare to plug your shows in front of new audiences.

Before your production, let it be an improv show, stand-up set, or one-act play, you need to create a buzz around your project. Before we get into how we can do this on social media, we can’t forget that it’s still possible to spread excitement with word of mouth. Next time you attend a show like yours, stick around and network with the creators, performers, and engaged audience members. By sharing your admiration for their finished project, you can also ask how they put it together and what they liked or disliked. Learn from their experience, and share that you also have a show coming soon. However, in addition to a short pitch, ask them to follow your promotional page, or share a postcard with your show’s information. Beware of straight-up soliciting, and make sure you only speak with those that are already engaged and looking forward to attending a similar production.

If you’re a performer yourself and taking part in other shows, ask your host if you can plug your upcoming show and share promo materials around the venue. If you’ve done your part in promoting their show, they should be more than happy to return the favor and let you promote yours. After all, we all share our part in supporting the comedy community.

Recruit social media ambassadors.

If your show includes multiple performers, ask them to contribute to show promotion by being ambassadors to the brand. By utilizing ambassadors, your social media posts will have guaranteed engagement based on ambassador interactions boosting views to their followers and friends. Improv shows, for example, can host multiple teams every week, and by asking those teams to promote the show on their social media pages, you’ll see an increase in your views and followers.

On the other hand, if you’re promoting your solo or stand-up show, it can be harder to find volunteers to help you. Instead, try creating a separate social media page from your account. Then, share your promo posts, and tag friends and family that you know will be interested in your newest project! Let them know that by following your promotional account, they’ll stay in the loop about your show dates and ticket links.

Create a social media tool kit.

To create a loyal follower community, your promotional social media pages need to not only share your voice but also be algorithm friendly. For example, Instagram will promote posts based on views and frequent posting. A social media tool kit is a calendar of scheduled posts and content topics that can be shared with your ambassadors. A common pattern for social media managers demonstrates that the best way to keep followers engaged is by creating posts that educate, inspire, and disrupt. We’d also like to add one more, tailored for small theatres: preview. Let’s discuss how that translates to an improv theatre.

Educate: Share a photo or short video from behind the scenes or during a class and caption it with a fact that fits in theme with your theatre. “Our theatre is proud to offer classes that teach long-form improv. Improv was created decades ago to create a sense of community among strangers at Jane Addams Hull House, and we still believe in that strong sense of community today.” By including this small teaching moment, you’ve caught your followers' eyes long enough to earn a like and view!

Inspire: Share a photo of a student or alum with a story about how your classes or shows have positively affected them. “Jess graduated from our program in 2019 and still performs around the city to this day. ‘I was always interested in taking classes, but I didn’t feel comfortable performing at a large theatre or paying expensive tuition rates. I’m so glad I found a comedy home here, and I always look forward to the next show!’” This brief caption can touch the heart of your followers, and keep your alumni community engaged, knowing you still support their efforts.

Disrupt: Share a video or post that disrupts the beige of your followers’ feeds. Find a funny photo from a show, a video of a big laugh from class, and show some appreciation for your performers with shoutouts.

Preview: Similar to disrupting the feed, preview your upcoming shows by sharing snippets of your past performances. These highlights will spark anticipation, and your ambassadors will be happy to share them and promote themselves!

Pay to promote.

If you have the means, paying to promote your posts can help showcase your production. An affordable option that will push your show to other theatre-goers is Improv Tonight, an improv guide for shows around the U.S. A less targeted opportunity includes promoting on social media with an algorithm chosen for you. This is not a guarantee, but has worked for others in the past, and could help put your theatre on the map!

These tips are not rules–I’m not your dad! But they have been proven to help theatres and event planners through the rise of social media, so use them at will, and get ready to meet some new fans!