Today, Amazon launched its new Amazon Home Services product, with a huge banner placement and video on its homepage. Amazon Home Services allows people to enter their zip code, and search for service providers such as electricians, home theater installers, or just “odd jobs” around the house (all in direct competition with Yelp, and somewhat in competition with listing services such as Angie’s List).
All quite uninteresting to the arts, until a deeper search of the offerings reveals arts-based services such as voice lessons, violin lessons, and guitar lessons. There are also options to “Hire A Singer,” as well as the strangely specific “Hire a Silk Aerialist.”
While the former are educational experiences, the latter are clearly performances. Once you pick the service, you are asked to select from vendors for, say, TV installation, based on price and star rating. I loaded that link into three browsers, two logged into Amazon, and one not, and got prices for the same service as the first
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.
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…