​Using social media marketing to extend music beyond the concert hall

Queensland Symphony Orchestra plays a new social media tune to reach more Australians

The Queensland Symphony Orchestra is investing in social media and digital marketing to make music more accessible to all Australians.

Through digital marketing, Alpha Digital and Queensland Symphony Orchestra hope to overcome the financial, social, physical and geographic hurdles that can limit people’s access to both music and community.

The work commenced earlier this year when Alpha Digital helped Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) promote its first broadcast of an entire concert live to Facebook. The livestream was played across the state, including in Wesley Mission communities. The pair are now driving Christmas appeal donations through Facebook advertising to give children in regional Queensland the opportunity to learn directly from the Orchestra’s musicians. 

Dynamic creative has also been used across campaigns. Using Facebook’s artificial intelligence (AI), QSO can dynamically deliver high-performing and highly relevant combinations of its creative assets to each individual Facebook use, director of sales and marketing at Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Matthew Hodge, said.

In the case of QSO's livestream, the team created a dedicated event page and event-responses advertising campaign to create a direct communication channel with audiences in the lead-up to the concert and drive additional ticket sales.

Facebook’s advanced AI and targeting capabilities are also being used to connect audiences and build communities. For example, Alpha Digital is using Facebook’s look-a-like audiences to find new listeners with a similar digital footprint to the Orchestra’s existing audience. This has been layered with orchestral and show-specific interest targeting. 

“2019 marked our first year of broadcasting an entire concert live to Facebook. It reached over 50,000 people and we know that a good part of that reach was due to the excitement generated in the lead-up to the stream,” Hodge said. “It was our previous conductor’s initiative that we should live streaming concerts, so the reason for Facebook was to a chance for people to see what we're about. It has a reach to help showcase us to the world.”

This wider QSO mission is to become the ‘orchestra for everyone’. Getting there means breaking down perceptions about orchestral music and changing up the way the brand markets its offering.

“We're trying to position the orchestra, and adopted a tagline a couple years ago with this in mind, as the ‘orchestra for everyone’,” Hodge told CMO. “I've been in the classical music industry for 30 years. We want to change the perception that orchestral and classical music is just for ‘certain types’ of people or if you have a certain amount of money.

“So the ‘orchestra for everyone’ something we believe in. It drives everything from physical programs to marketing, to demystifying the experience. That's now become the official mission of the company."

All this makes it vital QSO allow people to experience the music before they come to an actual concert.

"It's important to let people know what we do and let them hear us performing. And so something like a live stream gives us a chance to showcase to social media followers what we do," Hodge continued. 

“It’s important to recognise we are not the Brisbane Symphony Orchestra, we are the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, so we need to be available widely across the entire state. Being able to stream this performance not just on Facebook, but to places like the Wesley Mission, gets us into various homes, nursing homes and residences, because music is good for people’s well-being."

For Hodge, live streaming saw QSO a bunch of people who for various health or physical reasons would not be able to make it into the concert hall.

"Plus, also by shooting it, we put a lot into the camera work to create a really great production that will be put on YouTube, which actually allows us to position ourselves internationally as a great orchestra. So it achieves a lot of ends for us,” he said. 

Optimisation

As with all of QSO's digital marketing plan, there's an emphasis on segmentation, A/B testing and working closely with Alpha to ensure every digital activity is optimised.

“We have data coming in from our performances and we combine it with who’s looking at advertising. If you’ve got to spend money on these advertisements, you want to know that they go to the right place and reaching the right audience, and the audience is similar to the audience you want," Hodge said. 

“And the dynamic advertising has been interesting. We use different imagery and copy and test the waters. We do this because... the only form of advertising you would ever see for classical music would usually be a headshot of your visiting conductor or visiting artist. Sometimes they have great dynamic photos and are very engaging. But other times, it might just be a photo of a person staring into space and it doesn't always grab you.

“Music speaks to people in these deep emotional ways. So a very simple idea was to adjust our digital marketing to reflect this and experiment."

For instance, QSO has tried using a landscape or eye-catching image to better reflect what the music is about.

“We recently played a music concert where the theme was water, and so the all the music is about water, called Sounds in the Deep. Instead of a picture of the conductor, we had a picture of rolling water," Hodge explained. 

“We actually get to experiment with a whole bunch of images and copy, because what attracts people in is different for different people. It allows me to market a show from a number of different angles, which I find really useful.

“Sometimes there have been shows where the abstract imagery has worked really well. And then there's been other shows where it might be an off the cuff photo of the musician."

What all this has proved is that you don't just have one stock standard photo of the conductor to get people's attention.

"It's helped us to be creative, like we all feel we can make each concert look different," Hodge said. "Only having one type of imagery for every call might lead you to believe that every concert is the same. But actually every show is a completely different musical experience.”

Moving into 2020, the QSO hopes to continue with what Hodge called his ‘working model of why people like music’. His three Ps are: Purpose, personal connection and pattern matching.

“Purpose means it fills a certain purpose you want that music for, for instance when you are jogging or when you want to relax," he said. “So we can position things in different ways. For instance, if you want to go hear a live music experience because it's evocative and exciting.

"However, if I put a picture of a very serious looking musician on my marketing, the message is that the only purpose is to hear the music played excellently by a great musician. It might not suggest it's fun and evocative, or whatever it is that you're looking for. So by choosing different types of imagery and copy, I can position the purpose of the show to reach a broader range of purposes."

Hodge's second P is personal connection." If you are between the age of 35 and 65, you have probably grown up being pegged by your musical choice and there are certain types of music that are for people ‘like you’," he said.

“Personal connection is about how I send the message that this music is for people like you. I get to build a sense of personal connection between the musicians and you. We're just now starting to ramp up digital content to do more of this personal connection targeting.

“The third ‘p’ is pattern matching, which is the idea that your brain tends to like music which sounds similar to music you already like or music your brain can follow. It tends to not like it as much if it’s unfamiliar, which can be difficult with classical music because it's so long form and most people are used to listening to songs which are four minutes long.

“So knowing a little bit more about the music and the different types of patterns, like what's the difference between a symphony and a concerto, simple stuff like that... and demystifying actually helps your brain process the music so you find it a little easier to enjoy.

“I think there's great room for expansion in this, so more people are listening and exploring in their own time.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia. 

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