This month I am continuing my series of small business interviews with the genius that is Luke Emmett – founder of Theatre Bath. I became aware of the fantastic work of Theatre Bath through Twitter, and I have since had the opportunity of working alongside the organisation to run a social media workshop. Luke has a real passion for the community he has, almost accidentally, created and grown through social media networks. He now runs Theatre Bath alongside his fellow team members Zoe, Sarah and Laura. They hold regular workshops and this month are hosting their annual conference, with this year’s theme being “Bridging The Gaps”. I recently met up with Luke and had the opportunity to find out more about his social media story, I asked him a number of questions, the answers to which are collated below.
Tell me about Theatre Bath
Theatre Bath was founded 4 years ago in November 2011. It started as a Twitter account, there wasn’t a single account retweeting information about theatre in this area, so I set one up to see what happened! Within a week we had 200 followers – it was crazy! We now have over 2000 likes on Facebook and nearly 6.5k followers on Twitter. Our mission statement is to champion all theatre within Bath. We have members from community theatre groups, professional theatre groups, students and audience members. The amateur community mainly want to promote their shows, whereas the professional community want to learn new skills, network and meet new people, our job is to cater for all those different needs.
Which, out of all the networks, do you see the most interaction on?
Twitter, if you get the right people retweeting you, it really can work but you have to target the right people. Facebook has become harder work over the last few years as they keep changing their advertising guidelines. With Twitter everyone can see it, Facebook you’ve got to find it.
Which is the First network you check when you wake up in the morning?
Definitely Facebook because there’s more information there. Twitter’s good for when you’re in a hurry or you’re on the bus and you just want to flick through information quickly and in short snippets. Whereas when you’ve got a bit more time you can slowly go through Facebook and read whole articles as opposed to buzz lines.
How much time on average would you say you spend on social media a day?
It depends on what I’m doing that day. I’ve got every app you can imagine on my phone; Hootsuite, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, YouTube, everything’s on there. I tend to spend most of my bus journeys checking through different networks and posting content, that’s when I do a lot of my work. I take a lot of bus journeys! I also get notifications on my phone, and I try to reply as quickly as I can to everything that comes in, this means people looking for information get it straight away. If you’re quick to respond it’s more likely that they will interact with you again.
Have you used Periscope yet, how did you find it?
Yes, at the moment I would say it’s in its infancy. From a personal point of view, when it first launched, I watched a tornado flying in America, a Street Festival, and a theatre on Broadway rehearsing Shakespeare. I realised that it did have an application. This year, Stella Duffy came down to do a workshop on Fun Palaces and we streamed the whole event live on Periscope. People who couldn’t make the workshop could still watch online – it worked really well!
Who catches your eye on social media and does a brilliant job?
West End Producer caught my eye very early on, it’s very tongue in cheek, chatty and informal. We follow all the arts newspapers; the Guardian theatre supplement, The Stage, there’s quite a few review Twitter accounts as well. The Guardian always have an interesting tagline or an interesting quote to pull you into the tweet.
Do you have a clear social media strategy or plan?
We do it in a little bit of a haphazard way, because we’re all volunteering, we just get on and do it. There is a very loose strategy and it’s to share as many different interesting things as we can in as an accessible way as possible. We also make sure that when we post content the voice remains the same. We have a very informal chatty brand and that’s the tone that needs to come through on all of the social media outlets.
Do you ever schedule your posts on social media?
When we first started I used Hootsuite a lot to tweet articles and to drive traffic back to our website. There’s the argument that if you spend a day scheduling then it releases you for the rest of the week but because of the way in which we engage with people, we respond more than just post.
What advice would you give to a small business owner starting out on their Social Media journey?
My philosophy is Just do it! Play with it and see what works for you and what doesn’t. You need to be aware of what you are doing, everyone can see it and they can engage with you. Most people are generally nice, but it’s important to keep the message positive, even if you get a negative reply. Deal with everything in a very positive way, thank people for their comments. If you get a negative comment, thank the individual and let them know you will take it on board, if they want to discuss it further let them know how to contact you. I see a lot of small businesses fall flat with social media because they don’t tell anyone that they’ve got it! If you’re using a hashtag on Twitter, display it in your shop or on your advertising, try to embed social media in everything that the business does from the outset. It does take time, it took us a year to get a really good following but it was a slow constant build. People tend to give up too quickly, you need to keep plugging at it like anything else. Don’t panic if it doesn’t work straight away it might just be that your message isn’t quite working so try sending a different message. You can download your analytics from Facebook and Twitter, so it doesn’t take a lot of time, at the end of each month, to see which tweets are having the most impact and which Facebook posts are creating the most engagement.
One of the questions I am often is asked is “What do I share? I don’t know what to say!” what would you suggest?
It’s about knowing your audience and understanding that you have an interesting business with interesting things to show people. Put the passion you have for your business into your social media, show everyone else why you love what you do, it will be infectious!
What’s been your best moment on social media to date?
Writhlington School produced a video last year, where every teacher got involved with performing a song to advertise Les Miserables. We posted it on Facebook and Twitter, we also tweeted West End Producer with it who’s got 30,000+ followers. Within the space of about a day they’d had several thousand views on that video, it went absolutely mental. They were doing something that was fun, it was community driven it showcased the school and the teachers in a way that you wouldn’t normally see them.
Luke, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and for offering such top advice.
Imogen Woodford – Social-i