Music Festival Marketing: 5 Strategies To Stand Out on Social

Music festival marketing campaigns rely on social media to attract audiences. Here are five strategies to ensure your event stands out from the crowd.
Fanbytes | Festival marketing

In 30 seconds:

  • Springtime means three things: longer days, sunnier weather, and booking tickets for festival season.
  • The best festival marketing campaigns generate a buzz that starts long before the weekend – and lasts beyond the stubbornest hangover.
  • So with festival season in the air, we’re highlighting five strategies to boost your festival marketing on social media.

After coronavirus upended the music festival schedule for 2 years, festival marketing now has one main focus: remind fans what they missed out on in that time. 

Generating a buzz around the event is absolutely crucial to ensuring the success of a music festival, and this focus is evident in every stage of the pre-festival campaign: from line-up announcements, to early bird ticket sales

There’s no better place to start building anticipation for a festival than on social media: birthplace of trends, and the digital home to a huge Gen Z population: your new potential customers. Many of these young people are keen festival fans; in 2019, Mintel released research that said 49% of Gen Z had attended a music festival in the last year

But with the main attraction of a music festival being the in-person experiences; the live music, the chance to meet new people, to try new things, to launch a new ‘look’… How can organisers advertise this most successfully online? 

How do you market a festival?

Festival posters are iconic. But while in the past they were mainly seen on billboards and pasted over walls, now the majority of an events’ attendees will get access to all their festival updates online. Your marketing strategy needs to address festival-goers with a digital-first festival marketing plan.

Digital marketing, done well, can attract bigger audiences to festivals – and introduce events to new demographics of potential attendees, not hindered by location or distance. 

There are some key digital elements that every music festival campaign needs to include. Of course, an updated and clear website is vital for ticket sales and as a central information hub. Then there’s exclusive digital content and partnerships, which can entice users to engage early with festival offerings. Finally, and arguably most importantly, every campaign needs constant, quality social media engagement. 

It’s this social media engagement that will spell the difference between an event that flies under the radar, and the one that becomes the biggest date in peoples’ calendars. 

Take former Fanbytes partner Parklife. This Manchester-based music festival for millennials and Gen Z once attracted 20,000 attendees a day, but that number now stands at 80,000+, and there’s no doubt that their Instagram presence played a huge role in advancing those numbers. 

Their recognisable branding is colourful and consistent, which means this event stands out and lets people know exactly what kind of vibe to expect from the festival. 

But, as Fanbytes Senior Music & Ents Partnerships Manager, Harry Tidswell says, “branding is only one part of the social media marketing puzzle”. Especially when it comes to Gen Z’s favourite app, TikTok, there are major marketing tactics and content strands that festivals must address.

We have five strategies to help push your festival marketing campaign from the support tent, to the main stage. 

Music festival marketing: 5 key strategies

If you want to attract Generation Z to your brand, video content should be a main focus of your campaign strategy on social media. That’s because 91% of Gen Z prefer video over traditional marketing formats, and in 2020 they were reportedly watching over an hour of video content each day. 

Video is enticing, engaging, and concise. A well-crafted video campaign can capture, and hold, Gen Z’s famed 8 second attention span far better than traditional advertising methods – and that’s something ambitious marketers – and amongst them music festival marketers – can leverage. 

It’s why we strongly believe in the power of TikTok to market towards Gen Z. It’s already the platform where they’re most likely to engage with brands and influencer marketing online, and its video-first approach is perfect for generating a buzz around in-person live events. 

There are five elements to any perfect TikTok music festival marketing campaign. Here’s the breakdown: 

1. Upload high quality, native content - consistently

First things first: you have to be uploading content regularly to start getting attention from TikTok users. 

That’s partly because of the way the algorithm promotes content, and partly because it’s the only way to start generating excitement around your festival. The more you post, the more likely those posts will prove a hit with your target audience – generating snowballing views and engagement and landing you on more users’ For You Pages. 

Share clips of past performances, update users on news, tease announcements for the upcoming festival… And, of course, keep your posts tailored to the platform for best results. That means, keeping the content native to the platform you’re on. 

WHY IT WORKS: Anticipation

The anticipation stage is crucial to building a buzz that lasts. This is where contests for free tickets and other giveaways can come into play, too, as you encourage users to get involved with your event, therefore spreading the word further. 

The bigger the anticipatory buzz you can generate, the easier your overall campaign will feel. After all, everyone wants to get involved with that thing everyone’s talking about. 

2. Partner with influencers

Influencers are powerful social marketing tools. Gen Z users report being more likely to buy a product based on a recommendation from an influencer, and that trust extends towards the brands and experiences that they recommend – from ecommerce to events.

Influencer-generated content can be used to give insight into festival experiences, to tap into trends on behalf of your event, or to simply spread the word to a particular target audience. 

In this example, Fanbytes partner Creamfields worked with influencer Beth Alexandra (@bbethalexandra) on a lighthearted video about festival attendees. Within one day, the video already had over 20k views. 

WHY IT WORKS: Inspiration

Partnering with a range of influencers not only brings you within the view of potential new followers, it can also be an important tool in framing the “look” of your event. A funny influencer will show a different side to an event than one focussing on style, for example. 

Influencers have audiences who are motivated to look and live like them. They also know innately what their audience most wants to see (after all, that’s why they have a large online following). By involving them in your campaign, you not only increase your potential reach, you also frame your event as a “must have” amongst their followers. 

3. Make the most of paid ads

One way of making sure your content is seen by a wider audience is through a paid media campaign. 

By leveraging paid ads, brands can target specific potential audiences via ad segmentation and grow online followings amongst specific groups by showcasing what most appeals to them. We have previously outlined the top things you need to know about running paid ads on TikTok. The breakdown? Keep it short and compelling, and make the most out of what Gen Z loves about their social media platform

Check out this ad we worked on for singer Zara Larsson and Ellesse (the first ever shoppable live-streamed concert): in the lead up to the event, we got influencers to dance to a routine that TikTokers could copy while using the same branded effect. 

@ellesseofficial Ready, set, DANCE. Do you have what it takes to dance with Zara Larsson on stage? Learn the dance and post your video for the chance to be featured alongside her! #BeBold #ellesse ♬ Right Here - Zara Larsson

The ad encouraged viewers to join in via a hashtag for the chance to also have their video showcased at the concert – and it saw incredible results. You can read more about the campaign here.

WHY IT WORKS: Targeting

Make sure to keep an eye on your stats. A/B testing and re-targeting are known to be key to successful paid media campaigns: once you’ve found which content performs the best with your target audience, you can refocus your efforts to streamline your content output.

But… you’ve heard that before. Actually, it’s no good A/B testing an ad to get granually better results, if you’re simply testing different shades of grey. Take the time to understand your audience first and create a compelling ad for that segment. Get creative with adverts that feel like they’re just for them. If you’d like to learn more about connecting with different Gen Z audiences, get in touch.

4. Leverage tactical moments

There are several key moments in the lifecycle of a festival. Announcements about the date, the lineup and ticket sales are all moments of increased buzz around the event – so they’re times of huge opportunity in your social media campaign. Brands should also consider that the lead-up to the festival is when festival-goers are planning their outfits, which results in huge conversation spikes online.

Many of the acts you’ll be booking for your festival have a large social media presence themselves. It may not always be possible to partner with these musicians to promote your festival on your social account, but don’t forget their fans: research them and use your knowledge to inspire your social media content in the run-up to the event.

For best results, brands should consider investing in wider activity around key dates in their event calendar. After all, when customers think back to last year’s festival, it’s not just the day itself they’ll remember. Keep yourself front of mind, and you’ll supercharge your online reach.

WHY IT WORKS: Momentum

By building on the anticipation fostered through your regular content schedule, gearing your posts around these key moments will help to build a sense of growing excitement in your audience as bursts of activity happen around each update. 

Leveraging tactical moments – such as a lineup announcement – keeps content relevant and engaging, and allows festival organisers to keep their events fresh in audiences’ minds. 

5. Incite FOMO in users

You might think that the hard work of festival marketing is over once the event begins, but you’d be wrong. The event itself is where some of the most valuable social media marketing content can be created, and it’s where you can inspire one of the most important feelings in event marketing: fear of missing out (or FOMO).

In the lead up to the festival, make sure to share your festival hashtag on your own social media posts, and ensure any influencers you work with do so too. This means that festival attendees will know how to tag their own videos at your event – and everyone at home will know exactly where those alluring videos are from.

@reedliam Disclosure was my highlight of parklife #fyp #parklife #parklife2021 ♬ original sound - Liam Reed

Videos from the festival serve as great advertisements for next year, and the posts that festival attendees make will give other users a taste of the experience. Your hashtag will tell them exactly where to go when they’re making their future plans.

This user-generated content (UGC) is perfect for re-posting on your own social media profile. But don’t just rely on UGC to sell the experience of your event – make sure you’re also posting your own high-quality video-content or livestreams on your official brand account, so that your social media audience can see the events unfold in real-time. 

WHY IT WORKS: Future-proofing

You’d think live streaming an event would drive down ticket sales for the real thing. But that’s not the case. According to Amber van Moessner of Livestream, 30% of people who watch a livestream of an event will attend the same event in person the following year. It’s a powerful tool for capturing audiences who might not have been convinced by your initial marketing push. 

FOMO is a great motivator for users to get involved next year, which means a bigger audience for your marketing campaigns going forwards – and more festival attendees, too. 

Making the UCG created at your event easily discoverable (via hashtags) is also a useful tactic for driving future attendees and content, as it serves as inspiration for festival-goers who want to share similar experiences on their own social media accounts. As our CEO Timothy Armoo says “social media is where people like to show off.” The most successful festival marketing strategy is one that leverages current behaviours and pulls those users in your direction.

The best festival marketing

For festival attendees, it can seem like festivals are over in a flash – but the marketing efforts behind the scenes start early and last considerably longer. Just as soon as the festival is over, the work to build anticipation for next year begins all over again, ad infinitum.

Fanbytes’ Harry says, “The last two years have transformed the digital marketing landscape, with the incredible rise of TikTok and the influence of content creators over the pandemic. To effectively engage with Gen Z, festivals need to freshen up their marketing mix and look to reach consumers in new ways.

“As Gen Z looks forward to a (hopefully uninterrupted) festival season, festivals need to tap into their current online behaviours. To cut through the busy world of social media, it’s no longer enough to provide a creator with a free ticket to an event and hope for the best. Instead, now is the time to engage creators and develop content strategies that promote your festival before, during, and after the event.

“But it’s also a huge opportunity: this group are excited about in-real-life events and are ready to spend on festival tickets – as long as it’s the cool place to be.” 

The other good news? A successful festival marketing campaign can jumpstart next year’s efforts, providing you with a bank of inspirational content to push out over the year and an engaged audience clued-up as to the kind of event you’re running. 

This cumulative effect ensures you’re in a great position for next year – and the good times can keep on rolling. 

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