Commonsense social media for small arts organizations
1. Commonsense Social Media for Small Arts Organizations:
what the “social media mavens” won’t tell you
•psst… you really can do it yourself
2. 1. Make a skills inventory
Do remember to include all your skills!
Survey your organization’s staff, board, volunteers
who are the best writers?
who are already blogging, on facebook, on other
who are the photographers, videographers?
who has design skills?
You are artists, for Pete’s sake, you have all these skills in your organization!
3. 2. Do have the confidence to run your own
social media campaign.
The best social media campaign is grass-roots
—just like you started your arts organization
4. 3. Consider voice
Do listen to the tone of the media, but be
Social media is, well, social so adopt a
Take time to listen to your followers and other
organizations like your own. Find your voice in
Note that various social media have their own
5. 4. Don’t delegate social media
to the intern
They may be digital
natives but do they have
the facts and tools to
Being able to Facebook a
keg party is not a
qualification for blogging
your arts season.
6. 5. Don’t turn your Artistic
Director into a sock puppet
If a post says it is from the AD, it
You can help by sending the AD
questions, or taping interviews
and turning these into posts.
Assigning a staff member to write
under the AD’s name isn’t fair to
7. 6. Do use more than one
social media outlet for news
Consider which social media is most relevant
to you: consider tone, demographics, format.
Think of your chosen channels in terms of
longer content in the blog (connect through FB &
videos on YouTube (shared to blog & facebook)
form a community on Facebook for event
drive traffic to appropriate channels on Twitter
8. 7. Do be careful with auto-
Think before you link your media streams: when
in doubt, don’t connect! Some advice:
Link low frequency channels to high frequency
channels but not the reverse
Auto-tweeting your new YouTube videos makes
Facebooking every tweet will turn off Facebook
followers due to both style and frequency
9. 8. Do buffer to maximize reach
You can use tools like http://www.bufferapp.com
or http://hootsuite.com/ to buffer postings
space your important announcement over the day
without boring your audience
time your announcements to hit peak times for your
audience, often after business hours
economize on the time that staff/volunteers spend on
11. 10. Do engage your audience.
Social media is social. It is not
Take time to check for
comments and messages
Read your audience’s posts
12. 11. Do turn your colleagues
and competitors into
Arts organizations have been exchanging program book
inserts and advertising for decades. Use the same
strategy with social media.
Share a colleague’s non-competing event with your followers.
They’ll return the favour.
Tweet about your colleague’s news. When they re-tweet, you’ll
pick up followers.
People searching for news of a competitor’s events will visit
your stream if you post about them and sometimes add you to
their “follow” list or like your Facebook page.
13. 12. Don’t be a broken record.
You wouldn’t invite a friend to a
party today, and tomorrow and the
next day, and the next….
Remind your audience about events
with new value-added content
Share interesting news you’ve read
on the internet relevant to your
Don’t be afraid to share the
14. 13. Introducing the #tag
Tagging is a way that people find relevant information in
a sea of irrelevant news
Create your own twitter tag for core followers to find you
Research what tags are commonly used by organizations like
yours and use them when appropriate in blog posts and twitter
Use local and community tags to help people find events that
are close to them and invite re-tweets from community groups.
15. 14. Getting started
Reach out to your followers through existing
channels and invite them to connect
Offer incentives for them: discount codes, contests
Share the benefits you hope to derive for the
organization: saved money, greener operation,
Consider investing in low-cost, short-term social
Don’t get discouraged: growth is exponential
16. 15. Do have an evaluation plan
Have a plan to evaluate and put the tools in place
Use Google Analytics or other tools to see what social
media campaigns drove people to your website
Ticket discount codes will indicate the success of
social media campaigns on sales: vary codes on
different social media to see what works best
Set targets and evaluate strategies for increasing
17. 16. Do remember the goal
You want to deepen the engagement of your existing
You want to increase attendance and financial
You want to reach new audiences--while spending less
You also want to be able to brag about how efficient and
green your company is in achieving these goals.
That's pretty hot stuff so it's worth some work, right?
Is there one person who can take the lead on your social media campaign, or do you need to assemble a small team? Oh no! Not more meetings! No fear, this is the internet. Each team member can contribute from their own skill area with few or no meetings needed. Example: Person A writes Facebook postings while Person B uploads event photos to the Facebook page. Person C maintains a Youtube channel of videos . . . and so on
When nay-sayers tell you that they know a social media specialist with 2000 followers who can run your campaign better, look at who the followers are and what they are posting about. Is there any relevance to your organization? Or—as is usual—are the tweets and followers mainly a cluster of marketing types each following each other and recycling tweets? Relevance is as important as numbers.
If you recycle copy from grant applications in your blog or facebook posts, prepare to bomb. Social media language has to pass the “across the fence” rule. If you wouldn’t say something to your neighbour across the fence in that language, don’t say it in social media.
We know that Artistic Directors and Music Directors are very much in demand. We also know that our audience really wants to hear from them. This is where the temptation to speak on their behalf comes from and sometime the AD themselves says, “Use my name but I don’t want to write it”. But there are ways to make the job easy for the AD and not compromise on authenticity. Book a couple of hours and interview them on 4 different topics. You’ll get at least a month of blog posts out of that. Or send them an email full of questions for their response. Now when you transcribe or edit the material, the voice is authentic and informative.
Social media is synergistic. If you look at a twitter stream it is rare to see a tweet without a link. Twitter primarily exists to connect us via short descriptions to rich content of high relevance. That content can be articles, recordings, pictures or videos. A blog without connection to high traffic media has as much chance of being discovered as a pebble in a vast desert. Start by thinking about the content you will share: articles, pictures, audio, video. What are your goals? Increase audience, deepen relationship with audience, reduce marketing costs to existing audience, network with other arts orgnanizations, etc. Be guided by goals and content as you choose your main media channels.
As we've seen different social media platforms have different uses and formats. A 140 character twitter post sounds brief and possibly rude when repeated on Facebook, so be thoughtful about linking media.
You have two upcoming events and you want everyone to know about them. Post the events online on your website or event site. Create a number of short announcements about your event focusing on different aspects. Set the announcements to be posted over a 1 or 2 day period to maximize reach and minimize annoyance. Filling a buffer with 10 tweets or posts takes less time than logging on many times through the days.
Auto-tweets are different from buffering. Instead of timing your words, these applications fill your stream with randomly generated quotes and comments. No one is fooled. Many will stop following you.
No one likes a dinner party guest that can’t stop talking and never listens. Why would you think that would work on social media? Many arts organizations are social media boors, tweeting endlessly about their upcoming events, never listening, never responding to questions, never thanking people for positive comments. #Epicfail
If we are a small theatre group, we want to expand our followers not to everyone in the city but everyone interested in theatre. The best way to do this is to find a way for the followers of other theatre groups to find us. What better way than tweeting or posting on their news? Social media is about sharing. Sharing brings more followers. Only messaging your own news is preaching to the choir.
Hash tags can be as specific and short-lived as the acronym for a week-end workshop or as general as #theatre or #Toronto. They all serve to help people find information. There’s no rule or authority governing hash tags. People make them up and use what works.
Arts organizations often perversely keep their new social media campaigns a secret. Write a piece in your paper news letter. Send an email to your list. Put social media buttons on your website. Social media advertising campaigns can be designed to target people in your community, of a particular demographic and interested in your art form. For a budget of $5 or $10 a day for 1 or 2 weeks, you can significantly increase your reach. It’s fun!