Pollstar Live! Coverage:
Keeping The Conversation Going

After about half a decade of social media firmly establishing itself as the most important new tool in marketing, this panel’s most urgent advice was simple: Don’t just let an intern do it. 

Photo: Barry Brecheisen
Pollstar Live! panel coverage: L-R: Gopi Sangha, Lisaann Dupont, Cara Vanderhook, Hannah Houser, Erica Shamaly. 

The big boys (and girls) definitely don’t, as Gopi Sangha, director of digital strategy for Goldenvoice, demonstrated. “For Instagram we hired a professional staff photographer to be out and about at shows every day and taking the best photos possible,” Sangha said. “It’s showing a lot of success and getting followers. It’s important to capture a lot of really compelling media. Stick with professionals and put in some resources. Don’t just give it to an intern.”

Staples Center / Nokia Theatre L.A. Live publicist and social media senior director Cara Vanderhook said they have two full-time people overseeing social media alone. Not everyone is as big as Coachella, though. As Ryman Auditorium communications manager Lisaann Dupont pointed out, the big question sometimes is how to get followers in the first place.

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AC Entertainment communications coordinator Hannah Houser said the most important way to gain is to know your current followers, such as festivalgoers for Louisville’s Forecastle. “Any content we share about Louisville just blows it out of the water,” she said. “It takes the brand to new people.” This can be as simple as sharing content about cool nightspots or places to eat before or after the show, which is shared by existing fans to potential new fans directed to Forecastle’s official social channels.

Followers, likes and hearts are all good for branding, but how does it translate to selling tickets? More specifically, how can it be used to save a stinker? One example was to have bands create their own content or do Instagram or Twitter takeovers. Something small like a 30-second camera phone video from a band can have a major impact and possibly drum up excitement for a show that hasn’t quite taken off yet. It doesn’t have to be artist-created content, either. Fans tend to be so excited to be acknowledged or mentioned that retweeting status updates or great photos is highly recommended.

And sometimes it’s that accidental kind of post that makes the biggest impact, as Sangha retold with a media incident that he thought was going to lead to his termination. Apparently an unusually photogenic moment presented itself at the Polo Grounds festival site, where he snapped a polo ball. It seemed his caption was a little too reminiscent of a Rolling Stones lyric, which brought out the media trying to confirm the band as a Coachella headliner.

“In the end it was probably one of our biggest social media wins,” Sangha said. “Pure accident. We just kind of captured moment and let it ride a little.”

Vanderhook had a similar social media win, or so she thought. “It was 7-11 day, huge on Twitter and we had nothing going on today. So I just made a post that said don’t forget your free slurpee!” Vanderhook said. “And I get call from our sponsorship. Oh god. I’m sure it’s because Coke! But it was because Staples and 7/11 are competing stores somehow. Because I’m sure they sell tons of paperclips.”

But how did the post do? “Oh it was awesome!” Vanderhook said.