If you manage a venue that rents space to event organisers social media is an important part of your sales and marketing toolkit. People use media like images and videos to decide which venue is suitable for their brief. Social media allows venues managers to show off the venue and the types of events it hosts as well as provide information event organisers want to know such as the style of the venue, experience of the team and types of events and budgets it caters for.
The role of social media in venue sales and marketing
We’ve been providing venue marketing services since 2011 and year after year, social media remains the smallest acquisition channel for bringing visitors to venue websites. This doesn’t worry us or our clients though, the role of social media in venue sales and marketing isn’t acquiring qualified website visitors. It’s not comparable with other web acquisition channels whose sole purpose is to acquire qualified traffic.
When we simplify venue marketing at Patch we divide it into three steps, we’ve listed them below so we can outline where social media fits into the buyers’ journey.
Venue marketing in three steps
- Be found when people are looking for venues like yours
- Be put onto their shortlist, be chosen as the venue for their event
- Be chosen again for their next events and be referred to their network
As an example, SEO, search PPC and listings on venue search websites all help you get found but the things you’re saying on those sites, in your ads and on our website will help you get chosen.
Most venue buyers do some additional research after visiting a venue’s website, this may include checking reviews, visiting brand social media pages, or asking their social network. Social media has become the go to place to find out what a brand and its audience are talking about today. It provides venue buyers with another source of information to decide if your venue is right for their event.
Social media is community based, there isn’t a better tool to help you be remembered, be chosen again, and referred. Great content that stands out will get in front of your followers and remind them what you do and why you do it well, next time they have a suitable event they may remember you and think of your venue first.
What about reach?
Reach (the number of social media users that see your posts) has been a problem for venues for a long time. Bombarded with stories of influencers, trending brands and brands with millions of followers, some venues try to copy but always hit the ceiling. The ceiling is the size of the events industry and a venue’s segment within the industry.
We’re not saying venues don’t trend or don’t get reach on social media, when one of our clients hosted an annual televised New Year’s concert they had over half their annual social reach and website visitors in 24 hours (everyone checking out the venue that’s on telly) but as venue marketing specialists we have to be realistic and ask ourselves how many of those people interested in the venue on that day were likely to hire the space. If we do that, we can look any additional reach and traffic for what it is.
The best approach is to take an educated guess on the size of your market, depending on the types of events you host and your region. Once you’ve done that, decide what percentage of that market you’d like as social media followers. You’ll find you don’t need as many followers as you think because your community isn’t as large as some of the social media accounts you look up to.
After you’ve defined your ideal number of followers, look at how many people and brands you follow and how many engagements you’ve given in the past seven days. By looking at the engagements they give vs the brands you follow, most people will find they are giving a tiny number of engagements compared to all the people and brands they follow and the content they are publishing daily. Despite not engaging you still see that content (did you know dwelling is a factor on some social algorithms) and it can still have an impact.
What we’re trying to say is, be realistic with the number of followers you need and based on your community size, the reach you can obtain. Be realistic about the engagements you can achieve and compare yourself to other brands with a similar product, for example any brand that rents property and space. It’s not as exciting or appealing to engage with as fashion and good causes but that doesn’t mean that people don’t want to see it.
It sounds defeatist
It’s not meant to; it’s meant to help you set realistic expectations for organic social media. If you do this, you’ll move your attention away from chasing reach and engagements and toward curating a social media page and posts that scream what you do at your venue and why you do it well. Who cares if the reach and engagements are small, when the buyer visits your social media channels you want them to be delighted by what they see. It’s the buyers who matter when you produce content and curate your social channels, not your friends, colleagues and suppliers who engage with your posts.
Pay for reach
The social media dream goes like this: Create great content, get followers, they will engage, their engagement will amplify said great content to their audience and this will carry on for infinity until you have the most followers in your industry, and if you don’t, it must be because of your content.
The trouble is that for venues the reality goes more like this: Create great content, more great content from someone else comes along, yours didn’t trend and hasn’t lasted, the shows over, the results are small vs the time invested.
That shouldn’t put you off creating great content though, even though it may not trend anymore it stays on your page and when a buyer visits you want it to be there.
There is so much content being posted, it’s not just that social networks reduce organic reach because they want you to pay, it’s also the world is flooded with content and there isn’t enough people or time to consume it all. There are probably more creators than consumers! If you refresh your feed, it’s new every time within seconds. It can feel unlimited.
You can keep trying for that engaging post that gets the dream reach and engagement, and from time to time you’ll get it, our clients do. Although, if you’re business depends on your market being introduced to your venue, and you want people to see it on social media, the only way you can ensure you’ll get the reach you depend on is by paying for social advertising.
Building a following
Another area venues can feel inadequate is with followers. After more than a decade in business, thousands of events hosted, features in mainstream national media, and even hosting the prime minister, some venues still don’t have five-digit follower numbers.
It’s not that venues can’t build a following; it just goes back to what we said before. How many event organisers are there in total, and how many will care about your venue and its posts amongst the thousands on offer? If we’re honest, the answer is, only people who organise events in venues like yours and that number is limited.
People enter and leave the market all of the time, but the market has limited number, and this impacts the potential maximum social media following. Building a following significantly increases the chances they’ll see (and have the choice to amplify) your content and it creates a relationship because they have decided to follow you which you’d hope means they’re going to remember you.
You should build your followers naturally and through your content, so you end up with an engaged audience that are likely to use or recommend your venue.
The rise of social search
Social media has always facilitated search, but historically social search been centred around users and content, it’s not that people didn’t search for businesses or keywords, it’s just not many did and most brand pages weren’t optimised for keywords except for their tags. Increasingly people are turning to social media to search for products, services, advice, solutions – many things traditionally sought in search engines.
It means venues have an opportunity to optimise their pages and posts to be found when people are looking for keywords that relate to their venue and the types of events it hosts.
Complete the exercise below to determine what your ideal social media following, and average engagement should be like.
- Estimate the size of your market (people who may want to hire a venue like yours within the next few weeks, months, or years)
- Decide what number of followers would be a reasonable number considering the size of your venue and number of events you host
- Outline the types of content potential buyers want to see
- Define target engagements based on yours and your team’s own engagement behaviour with similar brands and content