The Toronto International Film Festival has become one of the most successful cinematic events in the world. Every September for 11 days, nearly 400 films are played in various venues across Toronto, Ontario. Films are celebrated, stars grace the red carpets, and paparazzi and thousands of fans flood the streets to get a glimpse of the action.
What they did
TIFF is always on the lookout for new ways to increase Festival attendance and boost awareness. “We want to build a strong and engaged film community locally around TIFF Bell Lightbox, as well be a part of the global conversation around film,” says Allison Freeman, Director of Marketing at TIFF. “Our audiences use social media every day, and we want to be a part of those conversations.”
TIFF’s small team was challenged to:
- Drive ticket sales and promotion for various events
- Attract and engage new followers to social accounts
- Source and share promotional content, educational content, and film-related news
- Connect in conversations across many different social networks
- Provide excellent customer service, especially during ticket releases
- Build marketing momentum leading up to the events
How they did it
Attract and engage followers through great content
Great content attracts people. By sparking discussions around TIFF films and sharing industry-related content, TIFF engages its passionate community, attracts new followers, encourages new conversations, and keeps the Festival top of mind throughout the year.
Because sourcing and sharing content can be time-consuming, TIFF uses Hootsuite to help manage content. Using Hootsuite's streams and scheduling capabilities, TIFF can monitor for great content and schedule it into their content calendar. This leaves them more time to jump into conversations, resulting in a more engaged audience.
Social media is woven into the fabric of almost everything TIFF does. If we’re hosting an event or Q&A with a filmmaker, we’ll share a hashtag with our audience to encourage community participation. By bringing these experiences online, we’re able to engage a wider audience and share our story throughout the year.
Promote events year-round and drive ticket sales
Attracting and engaging audiences year-round allows TIFF to maintain momentum. When it comes time to market different TIFF events, many fans and followers are already paying attention. When tickets to Festival screenings are released, TIFF's engaged fans are more likely to purchase if they’ve been following along throughout the year.
TIFF fans also turn to social media for film reviews and information about times and tickets. It’s up to the social media team to provide customer service by monitoring for and quickly responding to inquiries on Twitter and Facebook.
“Social media has become a necessary space for customer service. For many users, it’s the first destination to ask questions. As such, it’s paramount that we nimbly engage in these conversations and provide answers,” says Hannah Martin, Social Media Assistant at TIFF. “Hootsuite allows us to see what questions are out there, what’s already been answered, what needs to be assigned, and what customer feedback can be shared with our colleagues.”
Manage events in real time
TIFF captures highlights at different venues across the city, monitors for trends, content, and shares the whole experience for fans online. “Social media has the power to underline every element of the Festival, providing real-time, behind-the-scenes perspective from the events to our community,” says Hannah. “We employ social listening on Hootsuite to follow Festival hashtags, discover new keywords, understand the customer experience, and crowdsource Festival-goers experiences. Being able to visualize the entire landscape of our social channels through Hootsuite makes managing the online Festival experience that much easier.”
Having a flexible dashboard during the busiest time of year allows them to easily add new team members who can help assign and schedule messaging—without the security risks of password-sharing.
“Especially on a busy day, Hootsuite Assignments is a wonderfully handy function,” says Hannah. “It allows us to to keep track of social conversations, be alerted to issues quickly, assign questions to appropriate staff members, and leave comments for other team members.”
Hootsuite lets us see everything so we can fully understand what is important to answer immediately, what needs to be assigned, and what can wait.
TIFF has seen a huge pickup in the number of people through their doors since adding social media to the marketing mix. While it took them three years to gain their first 100,000 Twitter followers, last year they doubled their following to reach 200,000.
As TIFF grows, they’re able to share their passion for film with more people around the world. “The amazing thing about social media is that people can connect with our content from around the globe even if we’re hosting an event in Toronto,” Allison says. For example, they recently live streamed an on-stage conversation with Alfonso Cuarón—a film director, screenwriter, producer and editor—and amplified it globally because of social media.
They’re also seeing significant year-over-year growth in ticket sales and attendance for the TIFF Kids International Film Festival and TIFF Next Wave Film Festival. “With TIFF's expanding programming offers, social media is a key strategy in delivering growth year over year, which helps us achieve our business objectives so that we can fulfill our mission and mandate,” Allison says.
Hootsuite allows us to better understand and interact with every facet of that social community. From creating unique keyword streams, to listening in on voices within the film community, to engaging with customer queries and comments, Hootsuite allows us to approach social from a dynamic and holistic vantage point.