I usually write from the perspective of helping arts organizations in a promotional aspect, and I wanted to change lanes for a moment and talk about Twitter use by arts administrators as individuals who may be struggling with “why.”
“Why do I want to use Twitter?”
“What’s the point of knowing what somebody had for lunch? I really don’t care.”
“I followed everybody and now I can’t handle all the tweets.” (Or “twits,” perhaps if you’re referring the the people who tweet stupid things.)
To help answer these questions and more, I’m going to tell you a bit about how I use Twitter. Now, I’m coming from the perspective of using Twitter as a professional and artistic resource, not just another place to gab. More on that below.
Many of you are I’m sure aware of Google Alerts, which is a service by Google that will deliver content via email to you, based on the keywords you select. I use Google Alerts to bring me all sorts of information. As an example, Google sends me alerts based on the keyword “Arts Marketing.” Most of the time, what is sent to me as something to do with the arts. But sometimes, Google does its best and sends me webpages about “Martial Arts
By now, you know about Twitter. You can’t avoid it — the mainstream media has picked up the love affair and is spreading the Twitter love far and wide. I recently did a bit of analysis on the Twitter account saturation in the email subscribers a few of our clients, and the results were intriguing.
I scanned the email address databases of five of my arts clients, looking for people who were in their email database, who also had a Twitter account. The five arts organizations were a variety of genres and budget sizes from small to large, so it was interesting to see the same statistics across the board.
I interpret the latter to mean that those people who have not uploaded a picture are still in the “sampling Twitter” phase — just logging in and “lurking” around trying to figure it all out. That’s actually good — we want our audiences to be playing with the new tools. But I don’t count these folks as being “power players” yet, as they probably won’t be following a lot of people or participating to any great degree until they decide if they want
When Facebook first launched, many people were confused about the two options available for featuring arts organizations: Facebook Groups vs. Facebook Pages. (I need to stop for a moment and mention that Facebook needs to work out a different name for “Facebook Pages” — isn’t every page on Facebook a Facebook page? Most people commonly refer to Facebook Pages as “fan pages” now, but Facebook has yet to officially update their documentation to reflect this. But I digress.)
In the beginning, there were Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages. Groups offered the very special ability for the arts organization to directly connect with members of the group via a sort of intra-Facebook email system. So you could (and still can) use this tool to send a message that will arrive in the person’s “Facebook email” inbox. Fan pages offered a messaging system called an “update” that would allow you to send a message to all of your fans, but sadly the message would go to place in the user’s profile that most people never check. I’ve known folks to say “Yes, I became a fan, but I never hear from them” only to discover that their fan update inbox was filled with notes they had never seen. Given the checks and balances between the two options, Facebook Groups used to be the better way to go.
About three months ago, Facebook made a very significant change to the way fan pages function, making them much more powerful…
The French are known for many things… their appreciation of great food and wine, their love of art and culture, and now, by me, for their valiant belief that concert halls, movie theaters, and other public performance spaces should be free of that person next to you jabbering into his/her cell phone. Thanks to mobile phone jamming devices, you can actually hear the music without patron accompaniment.
We’ve all be sitting in the audience in the middle of a brilliant monologue, deeply in the moment, when someone’s ring tone starts chirping. It gets louder as the person digs it out of their pocket/bag, and hopefully shuts off. (Even worse, I saw an audience person answer it and carry on a conversation until the people in front of him got up, turned around, and shhhhhed him). Enter the cell-phone jammer. A cell phone jammer is a (usually) small, hand-held device that transmits white noise on the same radio frequencies that cell phones use, thus scrambling their signal to the cell tower and rendering them useless. Usually they have a range of about 30 feet, and all cellular communications are interrupted within that radius with a simple flip of a switch. It sounds like the perfect form of revenge. Somebody being annoying on their phone? Hit the switch in your pocket and their line is dead. A larger version could blanket a concert hall with blissful silence during performances. Which is why the French jumped on the idea and in December of 2004, legalized cell-phone jammers in movie theaters, concert halls, and other
I’d be hard pressed to find a member of an arts organization who doesn’t believe in the power of providing the option to sell tickets online. It gives many people a way to serve themselves (thus reducing your manpower needed at the box office to answer the phone), offers the patron the peace of mind of knowing that the ticket has been purchased, and usually offers additional benefits such as seeing your seat location, and being able to buy a ticket any night or day. Some groups I know have chaffed at the additional credit card processing fees, merchant account fees, or ticketing vendor fees of using a real ticketing system, and opted instead to collect credit card information online via a form, through an email, or into an unsecure database. Yes, you avoid additional fees that way, but is the cost of potentially exposing your patron’s credit card and identity information to hackers and thieves worth it? I don’t think so — and one lawsuit from an angry patron would seal the deal.
A recent article in our local paper mentioned that arts & cultural groups should have a plan in place to cut their expenses by 10%, before they need to use it. Just so the plan is ready to go. We think that’s a great idea, and decided to pluck out some ideas. While the following is certainly not an extensive list, a few easy ways to save 10% came to mind: 1. Prepay and save with your 3rd-party subscriptions — check out your organization’s monthly credit card bill for the 3rd-party companies you use for a variety of business services, such as Quickbooks Online for accounting, Constant Contact for email marketing, or Salesforce for CRM. Most organizations give you a substantial discount (10% to 20% for paying up front for 6 or 12 months. If you know for sure you’re going to use it for that amount of time, sign up in bulk, and save.
Difficult economic times call for different ways of thinking about marketing. From arts organizations looking to fill a seat, to restaurant managers trying to sell a dinner, the issue is the same: how to keep patrons coming in and participating with your organization. In many cases, an organization’s first response to needing to save money in a down economy is to cut costs, and often times the first budget to go is marketing. But when you stop to think about it, marketing is one of the only direct expense-to-income streams you have. Marketing is a revenue generator, not simply an expense, so your organization should be budgeting to market MORE in a down economy, and to market smartly as much as possible. Let’s talk about some easy ways to do this with a goal of not raising expenses or reducing revenues.
There are many ways to spend your time marketing or developing your arts organization. But which are the most effective? We’ve narrowed it down to 9. A recent survey of arts organizations compiled by the Wallace Foundation tells us that most groups feel that the use of next-generation technology is vital to audience development. On the next question, when asked how organizations feel they are doing with implementation of next-generation technology, the vast number of groups surveyed said “not as well as we’d like to be.” One issue seems to be that many groups have yet to master what we like to call “previous-generation technology.” Let’s examine what is known to work, in an effort to build an arts marketing foundation for you, the arts group. We feel that groups should focus on having all 9 of these techniques in place before putting a lot of effort into other technologies. So, play around with the “new” stuff, but remember your marketing roots first. In no particular order…
As arts marketers, we know that having an up-to-date website is one of the primary ways our patrons find out about our activities. But after serving on the board of a small community theatre group, I know the pain that cultural groups feel when they have to wait for that one board member to update the website. Or perhaps it’s waiting for your friend’s cousin to respond to your email that it’s time to put up the cast list. The great news is it doesn’t have to be like that. Imagine a scenario where any company member who knows how to use Microsoft Word can login and make changes to their section of the website? That updating the content could be shared by multiple people without getting in each other’s way? It’s called a Content Management System (CMS) and it should be a part of every marketing plan for arts organizations.
Here’s a great definition: A CMS is used to edit your website by giving the user an interface where they can log in and make text, graphic or structural amends to then publish the new pages on the live website. So the important thing to know is that arts groups can make changes to their websites by just logging int