Singing from a new hymn sheet

Singing from a new hymn sheet

Building a following on Instagram

This month I offered to help our local choir to drive their communications and, hopefully, increase membership going forward. In the good old days we would have printed leaflets and placed an ad in a local free-sheet. But times have changed.

Digital means I need to discard the old ‘comms plan’. Constantly evolving social media channels are prompting new audience behaviours and expectations and driving ever shorter attention spans.

The inherited website and Facebook group are great starting points. However it was decided that we would need to be on Instagram and potentially TikTok to attract new singers to rebuild our membership post-Covid19.

I had no problem setting up a new Instagram profile page. But this is the easy bit! We need some followers and for this, my son seized the phone and followed everyone in our ‘community ecosystem’, including community associations, commentators and charities in the same space. “We need to follow them so they follow us back!”.

With help, we have a new profile and have managed to design posts as well as the first in a series of ‘stories’.  Despite the challenges the platform presents, to my relief, 5 long-held communications conventions still prevail around:

1. Brand positioning

I had to resist the strong urge to jump right in and set up a new Instagram page, with a new name, a copy of the logo off the website and ‘copy and paste’ text. However, it was clear that we needed to take a pause and think about who we are as a choir and who we are seeking to attract in our communications.  This might require a shift in our strategy and the communications which support it.

  • Agree purpose
  • Work out who you’re trying to reach
  • And in particular, who are the most important audience to leverage (community influencers)
  • Identify the needs and desires of these individuals
  • And check your organisation fulfils these needs

2. The channels

The inherited website and Facebook group are great starting points. However it was decided that we would need to be on Instagram and potentially TikTok to attract new younger members to rebuild our membership post-Covid19.  Work will have to be done to ensure communications remain consistent across all channels newly launched and current.

  • Review how your messaging is reaching key audiences
  • Map out which channels provide the best access and reach
  • Integrate communications across multiple channels
  • Invite engagement and interaction across all channels and ensure responsiveness

3. The message

Our website messaging needs a refresh and is unsuitable for the social media audience. My starting point was to re-articulate our message and ensure it was as concise as possible.

With audiences now making split second decisions, communicators need to be super-concise. Plus the lifecycle of a post is now less than a day (with Instagram stories expiring in hours). On top of this, social media audiences are more discerning than ever about their associations, concerned about fraud, misinformation and their own personal brands.

  • Crystalise a coherent message which supports your purpose
  • Ensure high frequency of posting
  • Ensure brand messages are aligned and coherent across all posts
  • Once you think your message is concise, shorten it further

4. The look (and sound!)

It was clear that the new vision we inspire to is not currently supported by the visuals in the current website.  Luckily, Miles came to the rescue with a refreshed logo and icon for social media channels.

I had to pause my posting on Instagram, when my son reminded me that I had completely forgotten about sound!  “How could I post something about a choir without music to accompany the story post?!”

  • Ensure all online assets, website, company profile page and supporting collateral clearly conveys your message
  • Design a visual framework for your outputs in social media to ensure ongoing distinctiveness, strong support for your message and consistency
  • Maintain a consistent look and feel across all channels
  • Don’t forget about audio to accompany the visuals in your posts and, in particular, in your Instagram stories
  • Introduce video content where it can be brand enhancing

5. The impact

Our refreshed efforts have very quickly helped us to double the community we have on social media. The jury is out on whether it will indeed drive new membership over the next year. What my kids are telling me is that I need to review the relative engagement of each Instagram post, in order to judge how different tactics are working.  I am also now responsible for replies to comments and queries to ensure the group remains active.

  • Decide how you are going to measure success
  • Consider how you will track new followers, likes and engagement to sales
  • Regularly review what to stop, start or continue to keep engagement high

It is an obvious observation that so much has changed in the marketing space. Two further things occurred to me through this voluntary exercise: the need to be super concise (7 – 10 words max) and the short-life cycle of messages on social channels.

Now, the easy bit,  I just need to feed the new content hungry channel with relevant material to continually build engagement with our local community, concert attendance and hopefully membership numbers.