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Does Your Arts Organization Really Need Social Media?

Jeff Scott

By now, it’s probably a safe bet to assume most arts organizations have at least a Facebook page, and are possibly on Twitter and maybe even Google+, and are using them as part of their marketing approaches.

But do we need these channels, or more to the point, do we understand what these channels can give us?

Here are some points to keep in mind:

#1 Social media is not about selling tickets — While we are all anxious to get more people in the doors at our shows and events, more and more data is coming out about the ineffectiveness of using social media simply to sell a product. Announcing an added performance or offering a special discount is one thing; that’s news and it’s appealing. But simply reposting your standard ticket offer again and again gets old really fast. Your followers want to know when you have an event, but they aren’t looking for a hard sell.

#2 Social media is about connecting and communicating — Recall what made you as an individual sign up for Facebook or Twitter in the first place. You wanted to connect with your friends, and social media offered a more personal and interactive way to communicate with them as opposed to email. The majority of interactions on Facebook are with videos and photos. Those that follow your organization do so because they want to learn more about you, are interested in what’s going on in your world, or to communicate with you. Some large corporations are using social media as part of their customer service strategy and with great results. While it may be hard for an arts organization to have a dedicated social media customer service rep, the idea here is to use social media to promote the company, and not necessarily sell a product. Remember that your organization’s social media presence is a digital embodiment of your company. For many patrons, their first experience with an arts organization will be an online one, either through a website or social media platform; it needs to be a positive one.

#3 Social media is about the fans — Your social media postings need to include content that is interesting and relevant to your followers. Hopefully your fans will add context by sharing that content with their own social networks and increasing your organization’s reach, while picking up some new fans for you along the way. It’s a good idea to check metrics like Facebook Insights on a regular basis to see just how well your postings are performing, and adjust as necessary. Remember, your fans know what they want to see from you, so let them tell you.

So does your organization need to be on social media?

Of course, because that’s where your fans are, but in doing so, keep in mind the points above.

There is a lot of information available to help inform your ideas and expectations of social media as a component of your marketing plans, and remember that social media is always evolving, so using it successfully means staying educated.

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