Expanding the Encore: How Social Media Allows Performances to Last Forever

With the rise of social media, the lifespan of concerts now extends far beyond the final set.

Although the means of listening to music have drastically evolved–shifting from records to cassettes, CDs to streaming services–concerts have always remained a constant for fans, allowing them to connect with others and experience music in the moment.

However, with the rise of social media, the lifespan of concerts now extends far beyond the final set, with platforms like Snapchat and Instagram empowering performers to better connect with fans and gain valuable marketing insights about attendees.

Social media has transformed every phase of live events, from discovering a concert, to posting at a show, to reliving the experience online long after the encore. To today’s fans, shows and social media go hand-in-hand, with 71 percent of U.S. millennials saying that live tweeting about an event makes it more fun. The numbers speak for themselves: In 2015, 3.5 million tweets were sent during the first weekend of Coachella alone.

For the first time, fans no longer have to physically attend shows to immerse themselves in live experiences, able to follow along through live updates or tune in via webcast.

Meanwhile, the abundance of applications dedicated to events makes it easier than ever for fans to fill their calendar with upcoming concerts. As new platforms emerge, social’s influence continues to grow–bolstering fan excitement and offering bands, venues and festivals unprecedented access to audiences for marketing and loyalty purposes.

Event discovery and extending access

Just a few decades ago, fans relied heavily on radio, magazines, newspapers and fan clubs to find out about upcoming events.

During my time at The Bowery Presents, email was a key platform to reach out to audiences for concert announcements and content marketing–an asset that still remains valuable today.

However, with the emergence of social media, discovery is easier than ever, granting artists, venues and festivals alike greater access to potential fans. Added to that, all artists–whether in their early stages or on the Billboard Power 100–are equipped with the social tools to easily reach audiences and share timely tour updates.

While street teams were once integral to promotion, handing out flyers, stickers and CDs, fans can now stream millions of songs online and get personalized music recommendations, allowing them to readily discover new acts and shows.

Further, social media allows promoters and venues deeper intimacy with audiences, enabling them to take on a specific tone–ideally welcoming, whimsical and familiar. Through social, promoters have the ability to share content beyond show announcements, reaching into pop culture and timely themes that generate a deeper sense of fan loyalty and engagement.

Social is also a powerful means to spotlight trending events. In 2014, Snapchat launched its popular Our Story feature at Electric Daisy Carnival, allowing attendees to share snippets of their experience to one universal feed. The Electric Daisy story not only enabled fans to post in the moment, but recognized the value of curating fan-generated content into a single channel, granting special access to those remote at home.

Snapchat opened a realm of possibility for the music industry; since the launch of Our Story, concert attendees have been empowered to stream events live through Periscope, Instagram Stories and Facebook Live.

Enterprising artists like Phish have even opted into live webcasts, inviting fans to view shows at home or on the go, expanding access and deepening loyalty by catering to the convenience of a highly engaged fan community.

In the modern age of digital connection, artists and venues alike are leveraging social’s broad reach to market themselves and expand their fan base.

Real-time engagement

Once dependent on niche fan clubs, social media grants artists an extended platform to directly reach audiences.

While on tour, performers can post behind-the-scenes photos and videos to drive excitement for events and give fans an exclusive peek around upcoming shows.

Artists can also adopt hashtags on tour to encourage real-time discussion between artists and audiences, deepening engagement by inviting fans to use hashtags to request a song, vote on an encore or even ask questions to be answered on stage. Further, hashtags can activate chance-to-win sweepstakes, inviting fans to submit a concert memory or original photograph for exclusive prizes.

To build hype around her upcoming tour, Ariana Grande has not only adopted the hashtag #DangerousWomanTour, but she has partnered with musical.ly, asking fans to submit videos of themselves singing #SidetoSide to win tickets.

Whether or not a participant wins, the opportunity alone connects fans while simultaneously providing artists with valuable user-generated content and marketing assets.

Timely filters and geofilters are also rising in popularity on Snapchat, allowing bands and venues to sponsor features–a mask of musician’s trademark makeup or the name and date of tour’s run.

To promote her This Is Acting album, Snapchat debuted a special filter allowing users to try on Sia’s signature black-and-white wig and bow. Meanwhile, earlier this summer, Toyota sponsored a geofilter that doubled as a ticket to a pop-up concert at Lollapalooza.

Snapchatters could access the filter in three locations, including the main stage and the Toyota Music Den, a stage for up-and-coming artists. Festival-goers who used the filter were presented with a VIP pass to a secret Leon Bridges set.

With users watching 10 billion videos on Snapchat each day, branded materials encourage fans to intimately engage with their favorite artists and while serving as a virtual street team.

Celebrating the festival season year-round

With a surplus of fan content at their disposal, the industry has an invaluable opportunity to engage audiences year round–during or outside festival season.

With a surplus of fan-generated content shared across social each day, festivals now have the tools to keep content fresh year-round, driving excitement for future events–a feat that is often difficult without the right resources.

By leveraging hashtags, creating filters and implementing content-based contests, music marketers are equipped with ample material to spotlight shows’ pasts in order to drive consistent conversation around upcoming sets.

Perhaps most important, social media also provides a home base for fans to continuously engage around their favorite events and artists on social pages and fan forums and message boards, such as Beyoncé’s famed Beyhive.

Ultimately, all fans are seeking a place to call home–the communities forged by social media offer such refuge, adding considerable depth to the events experience.

For bands, social media provides newfound access to their most passionate followers, granting them the means to promote timely tours in a world of noise and maintain a sense of excitement long after the final encore.

Jesse Mann is the chief operating officer at online music platform Fans.com.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.