When you run a business that has played host to musical heavyweights like Nirvana and Bob Marley and launched cultural icons including The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Pee-wee Herman Show, it would be pretty easy to get complacent. Not Nic Adler, owner of The Roxy Theater. Growing up in the business and spending time in the trenches as a band manager gave Adler a unique perspective on delivering a musical experience.
And though he comes from a time when social media meant more than clickable thumbs on Facebook, he’s been an early adopter of all forms of online interactivity. From Myspace and a blog to Pinterest, Adler’s diligently embraced each new platform as a means of banishing the "velvet rope" and keeping the Sunset Strip’s illustrious denizen fresh and relevant to legions of fans both new and old.
For Adler, it’s less important to have a formal strategic approach to social media; it’s best to grow organically. Now he’s starting his own agency that’s focused on delivering the best execution across platforms to help businesses cultivate loyal followings, just like The Roxy.
Adler chatted with Fast Company about his own best practices.
Be Early To Be Influential
"My dad said about five years ago to just be careful with social media because it’s the Wild West. I didn’t realize it at the time but it is this land grab that’s happening. If you are on early you can move your base. By the time it becomes an awesome network to be on, you are already at 20K followers. So check it out, go on, if it doesn’t work that’s okay, but definitely try. If you are there early, you will own that space. Our followers know that we are that kind of company. When we introduce a new platform they will want to go and try it out. It’s pioneering. Whoever gets there first is in a position to be influential."
"We started on Myspace. Back then there were only a few places to go. So we started learning about followers and getting excited each time we got a new one. But the conversation is so much richer now and you want multiple people to be part of that and to share. If you miss a beat they’ve passed you by, so be everywhere. That is why we find ourselves in so many different networks. If we were just on Myspace we’d only be talking to a small group. If we spread out we have a better opportunity to reach more people. "
Forget Search. Discover
"The web is going through this transition from people using it for search to using it for discovery. It’s a very visual place. I go on Pinterest without anything in mind, I’m just looking and discovering in this different mode. That hasn’t happened in a long time. Though we are all accustomed to sharing, now we are starting to become curators. So say you are a business and you have this idea to find the best 20 beers, so you ask your fans. Then you build a new board of your followers’ favorite beers and turn around and tweet that out. Your fans are then going to a place where all their ideas are visually placed with links.
On Instagram, too it’s not about the words we are saying, not about anything but lens of the camera. With better apps we all became amateur photographers and there’s so much in a picture. Every time we put up a really great picture we get a lot of traction."
"It’s about watching that feed and seeing someone tweet, 'Hey I’m broke but I wish I could go to that show,' and I’ll turn around and say, 'Hey you are on the list plus one.'" What does one ticket mean to me? But it means so much more to them. It’s better than a contest. It’s not something we do every day but the response is amazing. One of the things we’ve seen is that our early followers still interact with us on a daily basis. I saw these girls had made their own shirts that said 'I love The Roxy.' I hadn’t seen that since I took over ownership. It means we are really connecting with people.
If you look at our feeds we sell the club about 10% of the time and 90% of the time we talk about other things so we can be that place where people want to go. Two out of 10 tweets are about shows or tickets, the other tweets are about a great new beer or a community effort. We do the same with our newsletter. One percent of the content is about shows, the rest is about the community. We did this back in the early days of the recession when we tweeted about our competition. If you want people to live with you every day and go to sleep with you every night you have to be more that a sales pitch. We lead because we are supporting others."
"Being authentic and organic are the two biggest things we talk about at The Roxy. It’s about a slow build and being honest, and if we are wrong we are honest about that, too. When we are wrong and we make it right, those are almost the most important marketing moments we have at The Roxy. If we fix something right away and the customer tweets about it, that is as authentic as it gets. They are putting that out because they believe we have the ability to correct problems in real time."
Change The Way You Think About ROI
"Social is a mirror, it will be very honest with you. It’s so much more than amplifying. It’s important to listen. When I am building ads on Facebook I actually try to name the person I’m targeting. I see if they are male or female, put clothes on them, see if they are drinking Red Bull or Monster, driving vs. taking the bus. If you listen, you can market to a person, not to a genre and you’ll win every time.
For us, Facebook is more about communication and awareness than trying to get people in the door. People use Facebook as this tool for selling, but more of our content is about music, food, TV. It’s about living, because we are an international community on Facebook. More than 50% of fans might not ever come to The Roxy but we all have this interest in music and pop culture in common. I can only hold 500 people in the club, so it’s less about ROI and more about ROE. The "E" is for energy. It really is about more than a dollar figure on social media. I’m building social equity."
[Image: Flickr user The Roxy Theatre]