Part 2 - Social Media Home Haunter

Social Media for the Home Haunter (Part 2)

Last week, we talked about an overall social media strategy.  Today, we share the details of how to best utilize several different channels and maximize your social media impact.

Facebook

Step One: Set Up Your Account

Use your personal account to establish a business page.  Name this page to reflect your consistent core brand, not your seasonal event.  The name is the only thing that is permanent, so use the profile image and banner images you created for your media kit that represent your core brand or this year’s event. It’s up to you, and you can mix things up by changing the imagery as the event gets closer.  Take the time to fill out the address, your contact info (that email address you made!), your mission statement, operating hours, and all other applicable fields on your new page.

Step Two: Make it Official

You need people to “Like” your page to start gaining an organic audience for your carefully created content, so invite all your pro-Halloween friends to like your page – even if they aren’t local. While you are waiting on people to ‘like’ your page, make sure you change your username to the name of your haunt so people can find and tag you easily.

Step Three: Create Your Event

Create an event  from your core brand page that is dedicated to your seasonal event.  Make it run the entire time the haunt is active if you have multiple nights (rather than separate events for Friday, Saturday, etc.) but make it very clear when “visiting hours” are every day.  Add the address, parking situation, admission situation (free, canned food donations requested, whatever); any information you can add will help you look like a legitimate destination. Add your seasonal event header image, and invite any local friends you can think of.  Even if they mark themselves as “interested” rather than attending, the event can be seen by their entire circle of friends.  We are aiming for as much visibility as possible, so gaining access to friends-of-friends is critical.

Step Four: Post Quality Content

Facebook rewards quality content, so don’t burn yourself out by trying to post every single day if you’re going to post junk just to put something out there.  3 posts a week is a great goal and lets you maintain a regular cadence with your audience.  It can help to intentionally post three different types of content each week, such as one that explicitly promotes your haunt, one to share a project that got completed or prop you’re proud of, and one wildcard every week.  A wildcard can be a poll of favorite horror stories, a random anecdote about your haunt’s theme, or anything else you can think of to drive engagement.

Dog Image from Angel’s Pet World

Your headlines should have a link to your event and/or contain a branded hashtag.  Images should be 1200 pix wide and between 600 and 1200 pix tall.  You can go up to a square (1200×1200 px) but a tall and skinny image will be cut off below the square mark.

Step Five (Optional): Promote

If you’re willing to spend a few dollars on a media budget, boost your event with a custom audience within 5-20 miles of your haunt.  Play with the filters to maximize impact based on your objective.  If you have a gorgeous yard display and are a very elaborate trick-or-treat stop, target everyone in a 5 mile radius to encourage them to stop by.  If you have a full haunt setup designed for a more mature audience that would be a destination all its own, expand the radius but filter on interested like “Halloween” or “scary movies” to qualify your promotion.  You may even want to consider doing both – send it to a geographically wide yet qualified group earlier in the month, then do another promotion the weekend of the event to everyone local in case they’re still looking for something to do that night.

Instagram

Instagram serves a twofold purpose.  It gives your guests a way to “tag” you when they visit and take pictures if they’re Instagram users, and it can provide a testing ground for your media strategy and even how you structure your haunt.  The interactions you receive on an image of a particular prop or scene can give invaluable insight into what you should be putting more work into or leaving as good enough.  Your Instagram images do not disappear (unless you put them inside a story) and you can add to it year after year.

Step One: Set Up Your Account

Set up your account under your chosen core brand name, load your summary and profile picture from your media kit, and seed your account with 3-4 images image you’ve already taken.  People are more likely to follow an account that has a few images, so it’s important to choose initial images that accurately represent what you intend to post in the future.

Step Two: Socialize

You should use your Facebook account to encourage people to follow you on Instagram, but should not rely solely on people that already know about you to build a following.  Within Instagram, search for hashtags like #hauntedhouse or even as generic as #spooky and start following people that look like they’d be interested in the kind of images you’ll be sharing.  They will often follow you back, and you should consider following anyone that decides to follow you first.

Step Three: Research and Post Images

Because this is research venue, you can post up to 2 good quality images a day your followers feeling like you’re spamming them.  Do not post multiple shots of the same prop one after the other, and use as many relevant hashtags in each post as possible.  Remember how you went and found people earlier?  That’s what others are doing too, and you’ll want to make sure you’re on the list. Instagram is also more emoji-friendly than other media channels, so feel free to share your feelings via pumpkin-faces!  Emojipedia.org is a great resource, but be aware that not all emojis will display correctly on all device types.

All images (and videos) need to be square.  1200×1200 will give you great quality, but the vast majority of Instagram users consume the news feed on their mobile devices, so any square image that looks good to you will be fine.  Feel free to experiment with the filters – there are so many! You can also upload video, but keep it short – engagement plummets after the 15 second point.

You cannot include links in your posts (only in your bio/summary on your profile), so you need to tell the full story with just an image. If someone comments on a post, be sure to respond.  Instagram is a very social platform and you can form great relationships with other posters.  Use it to your advantage!

Twitter

Twitter is a tricky beast.  It’s the fastest-paced and highest-volume media stream, and the average tweet has a lifespan of less than 15 seconds.  Still, it’s a powerful tool with millions of users.  Much like Instagram, Twitter is most useful to a home haunter as way to manage your brand and keep your finger on the pulse of the internet.  Twitter rewards quantity over quality and some successful brands post dozens of times a day, though the content gets reused frequently with only minor modifications.

For the average user who wants to engage with Twitter, we suggest re-using your Facebook post images as Tweets and posting your own content as often as you post to Facebook.  Then, re-tweet other content or post text-only tweets at least once every day while monitoring your feed for relevant conversations.  It is best practice to add your own comment on re-tweets, but any engagement is good engagement.

Tweets can be text (up to 140 characters) and may include links.  Tools like Hootsuite will shorten links for you to absorb fewer characters.  Most captions use hashtags, but you will only have room for one or two.  Visual tweets receive better engagement than text-only tweets and you can recycle images several times, but if you reuse an image, be sure to alter the caption a bit to stay out of spam filters.

For images to appear optimally in everyone’s stream, use a 2:1 aspect ratio with a minimum pixel size of 440×220 and a max of 1024×512.  Twitter does not accept images larger than 5MB or gifs larger than 3MB.

Pro tip:  use the GIF button to find and tweet a gif rather than trying to find one and copy in the URL.  It will always play automatically if you insert it with the dedicated button, but may just appear as a link otherwise:

Bonus:  Snapchat Filter

Snapchat is fun to use, but tricky to use as a promotional tool.  Feel free to keep your friends up to date via our favorite little ghost if you’re already comfortable with the medium. Even if you’re not a snapper, creating a custom filter for your haunt can be a wonderful way to encourage organic engagement.

You can set a location specific filter to cover your entire block for about $10 a day.  To maximize your ROI, place signage about the Geofilter near a neat prop or other photo-op to encourage snaps.

Schedule it all out

Managing all your accounts by hand is the easiest way to get frustrated and burnt out before H-day even happens.  Schedule everything out in advance and set up monitoring streams in a program like Hootsuite.  Hootsuite lets you handle 3 channels with their free plan, which is sufficient for the average home haunter.  You can use their publisher tool to map out exactly what you’re posting to each channel and schedule them up to a month in advance.  Instagram will require you to post the image from your mobile device so there is an extra step in the process, but Facebook and Twitter posts will just get published at their scheduled time with no further action required.  You can also monitor your posts and mentions of your brand or keywords in their dashboard without having to search in each individual channel.  This sort of tool is a huge time saver and can give even the busiest haunter the appearance of being actively engaged the entire month of October with just a few hours of upfront work.

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