As an arts marketing and technology guy, I get asked about tech a lot. I help people choose online ticketing systems, new website content management systems, email marketing software — if it is online technology, I’ve probably helped an arts group choose and implement it. When I first started consulting, I thought my job would be to help people make the right choices, and then be on my way. But I’ve found over the years that this is only half of what’s needed to implement new technology.
Say you’ve got a brand-new ticketing system. It can do all the things your old system could never do. You get it installed, and you get training from the company on how to use it. You’ve received a great start! But where I see staff at organizations fall short is when they apply their old behaviors to the new system, and don’t create new behaviors. The motivation and follow-through on behavior modification aren’t there.
I recently got the new iPhone 4S. One of the most interesting features of the new iPhone 4S is “Siri,” the phone’s digital assistant. Siri is pretty amazing, and I feel that she represents the “next big thing” in how people soon will find information about your arts and cultural organization.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of Siri, watch the short demo video from Apple:
All of this got me thinking: although Siri is very new (and officially still in “beta” by Apple), what capabilities does she already have for helping a patron connect with arts and culture?
In the summer of 2010, The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance commissioned Groupofminds to research mobile app development firms in an effort to identify mobile app vendors making significant strides in apps for arts and culture. Now that the research is …
I hear a lot of opinions about social media these days. A lot of them are positive, from people who have the time to experiment and build real relationships. And a lot of them are negative, from people who “tried it, but it didn’t work us” or from those who say they can’t see any return on investment (ROI). The latter can be due to a variety of issues, but often is due the difficult job of tracking social media movement. Think about wildlife trackers. They are skilled at seeing small signs and interpreting large results — a bent twig here, a small footprint there… the animal went that way. They see things others do not, because they have taken time to be trained to notice the small details. Tracking ROI on Facebook is similar, and subtle. If you get into the tracking mindset, you can discover a great many things, but even then you have to be ok with animals seemingly showing up out of nowhere at your box office. And the path they took to get there can jump many channels and be all over the place!
As an example, recently I decided to see a production of the “musical play” Opus at TheatreWorks in Mountain View, CA. It was excellent — the kind of theatre that changes you. My companion and I left the theater talking about the show from a bunch of different angles (mostly trying to decide if the last scene should have been kept in the show or cut — I favored keeping it). I went home, and jumped on Facebook. I wrote the following:
I’ve been keeping my eye out to the way some of my favorite brands have been changing their messaging recently. Things of course are getting more filtered and specific to me, which is great, but a few companies are really standing out with messaging that is designed to make me feel good or take action. Take this screenshot from a recent email I received after flying with Southwest Airlines:
Nice! They didn’t try to sell me another ticket right away. They are inviting me to write about my experience, but that doesn’t cost me anything but my time, and at the moment, I’m feeling pretty good about Southwest Airlines (and they just thanked me, so that might add to my decision to write something good about them). Even though I may not choose to write anything in their travel guide, the thank you is nice and stands on its own.
Next up: Ebay. I recently purchased a piece of artwork on Ebay, and Ebay sent me this email message in an effort to get me to leave feedback for the seller of the item:
Reading time: 10 minutes
Every day is a holiday to somebody. What’s one more to add to the list? Let me give you a little background.
Often, I work with clients who have previously had a volunteer run some important part of their arts marketing arsenal — usually their website, or their email marketing. In many cases, the volunteer is a friend or family member connected to a board member, and the organization is drawn to the promise of free technical help. “My brother is a web developer; let me see if I can talk him into running our website for us!”
The concept of free service because of a good connection is incredibly attractive to some arts groups where money is especially tight. And sometimes it works out really well for a long time. But it can also easily lead to disaster.
When the board member leaves the board, often the strength of the volunteer connection leaves too. Oh, that free web developer can stick around for awhile, but in many cases the response time to get something updated gets longer and longer. Finally it starts to damage the organization’s ability to manipulate their own marketing information, such as being able to update the website, send out the email, etc. And in the worst cases, your volunteer website updater just disappears into thin air, taking your logins and passwords with them. That’s bad. But it is not as rare as you might think — I’ve now worked with four clients who have had it happen to them. The most recent two needed to register totally new domain names and set up brand new websites at considerable expense, because they couldn’t get access from their previous web developer.
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…
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.