Case Study: Facebook vs. NY Times online: which sells more tickets?

Capacity Interactive blog, 7/9/13

There's a lot of debate in the marketing community about whether or not you can successfully sell goods and services, in this instance, tickets, on Facebook.  We know that Facebook is one of the best ways to get fans of an organization engaged in the digital space, but could that really translate to ticket sales?  Does Facebook advertising work? We were working with a prominent NYC-based performing arts organization who had already committed a chunk of their digital media spend to The New York Times online, but they were also very interested in seeing what Facebook could do.  We recommended a relatively minimal spend (in comparison to their other online media buys) and launched the campaign using a variety of targeting methodologies including interests, fan targeting, friend of fan targeting, CRM targeting, and look-alikes. As you can see, the Facebook ad results were excellent, and they stand out even more when compared to the more "traditional" direct buy on The click-through rate was almost 10x greater on Facebook than on the  Most importantly, on less than half of the spend, the Facebook promoted posts brought in double the revenue of the banner ads, which made for an exceptional ROI. Added benefits of Facebook advertising include tons of engagement with the posts (likes, comments, shares, etc.) as well as 2,000 new page likes for our client. We hope this case study convinces other organizations that Facebook ads, when set up correctly, are a valuable tool for not only engagement and PR, but, with a minimal spend, to sell tickets as well.


Commentary: 6 ways Twitter can help sell tickets

Canary Promotion blog, 7/2/13

Online ticketing site EventBrite reported a correlation between social media shares and gross ticket sales in 2012: In the U.S., a share from a Twitter user generated an average of $1.94 in additional ticket sales for a particular event. This doesn't sound like much at first, but as this TechCrunch article points out, this is an "astounding metric, considering that every single one of those bits of marketing are essentially free." We'd argue that, with the staff time (or the cost of a dedicated social media expert) needed to develop an effective social media strategy, it's not exactly free money -- but it's certainly impressive when compared to the costs for traditional advertising. Music venues are all over the concept of selling tickets on Twitter. Here are ways arts organizations can take notes from their success and use Twitter to help sell tickets:

1.  Tweets about tickets on sale should always include a link. Will you ever catch Fishtown's @johnnybrendas posting linkless? Not on your life!

2.  Last-minute tweets with a special offer will help boost walk-up sales. Pew Research Center's 2013 report on arts organizations and digital technologies points out that, with more people delaying decisions on how to spend leisure time, there's a decline in advance sales and an increase in last-minute box office sales. Twitter helps capture those last-minute decision-makers. Check out a 2013 Reverbnation study of 470 music venues around the world: They reported that at least 75% of tickets are sold at the door.

3. New tools are making it easier for Twitter users to respond to a tweet by buying a ticket. New startup Chirpify, founded in 2012, allows consumers to connect their Twitter and Paypal accounts, enabling direct purchasing from a Tweet. In short, Twitter can help you sell tickets -- that is, if you've connected tweeting as directly as possible with ticket buying and you've invested in engaging with your audience.

4. Make sure "buy your tickets today!" isn't the only tweet your followers hear from you - or you won't have any followers. A February 2013 Chicago Times op-ed on arts organizations and social media quoted ArtsJournal editor Douglas McLennan, who said, "One of the biggest mistakes arts groups make is treating social media as just another way to blast information on their activities -- essentially a vehicle for free advertising." Throw in exclusive info, behind-the-scenes content or nearby dining recommendations. 

5. If you're going to use Twitter, do it right. A 2011 social media audit of the arts and culture sector commissioned by Theatre Bay Area found that organizations that tweet more than four times per day and do not replicate Facebook content on their Twitter feed have more followers and a higher rate of engagement. 

6. The power of social media as a word-of-mouth marketing tool. Encourage audience members to tweet about the show to increase your visibility with their peer groups by putting your hashtag out there, featuring select tweets in a program insert, or displaying a "Twitter wall" at your event. Philadelphia's Mann Center has its promoter @TheArtsinPhilly ask followers for a tweet of an exact phrase to enter to win a pair of tickets. The results? Even better than a retweet, the @MannCenter and its advertising source sit back and collect Twitter mentions.


Movie studios eye Pinterest to sell movie tickets

Marc Graser,, 5/20/13

Retailers are buzzing over Pinterest's ability to boost sales for their businesses. But Hollywood's remained mostly silent about its potential to fill movie theater seats. For now. As studios step up their social media activity, marketers are considering ways to turn posters or the promotional stills of their films that appear on online pinboards into ticket sales. Nearly every major distributor in Hollywood is experimenting internally with ways to court Pinterest's core users: white college-educated women between the ages of 18-49 who live in rural areas and make $75,000 a year. It's a demo that's become tougher to attract, with summer tentpoles consisting of mostly of genre-heavy fare aimed at younger men. While actual transactions can't take place on Pinterest yet, clicking a photo of some products sends users to a retailer's site where the sale can be completed. An estimated 32% of online shoppers have purchased products they've seen on Pinterest. And that should increase as Pinterest develops methods to enable transactions on its platform. While a rep for Pinterest noted movies are a popular part of the service, he declined to comment on the company's plans. "We're always thinking about how we can make it easier for people to take action on the things they discover on Pinterest, including movies, but we don't have anything specific to announce at this time," the rep said. But as Pinterest preps "p-commerce" offerings, studios are taking notice. They've tested the digital waters in the past, with Disney turning to Facebook to sell tickets to Toy Story 3, Lionsgate discounting tickets to The Lincoln Lawyer on Groupon, and Paramount including an option to buy them on websites for its films like Pain & Gain. Now that Pinterest has amassed a following of 28 million active monthly users in the U.S. over the past three years, marketers are paying closer attention to the service, which in terms of usage is only third behind Facebook and Twitter.

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