Audience development for the arts – Twitter and hashtags

This week I had my first #auddev chat, which opened me further to the power of Twitter for audience development.  Twitter has an amazing little feature called the hashtag.  A hashtag allows tweeters to categorize a tweet subject.  The hashtag creates a sub-stream on Twitter that you can follow.    You can use the hashtag to form a collective stream for anyone who is interested in a particular topic.  You can also use the hashtag for a live chat session, a stream for everyone to go to and participate. The only rule is to use the hashtag within your tweet so it shows up in the new stream.

For example, I use the #auddev hashtag to highlight any article or comment about audience development for the arts.  If you go to this hashtag on Twitter, you will see a world of tweets about audience development for the arts!

This past Monday, I used the hashtag for a live chat session.  I chose an hour, asked a particular question, and anyone who wanted to participate could use the hashtag #auddev to become a part of the collective chat.

On Thursday, we had a bigger live event chat which I certainly would categorize under audience development for the arts.  #askaconductor day was born (hosted by @askthemusicians)!  This hashtag was the stamp of an all day (24 hour) event where people from all over the world could ask any question they wanted to be answered by music conductors from all over the world.  The international twitter conversation was just shy of 3,000 tweets with close to 500 contributors (via: What the Hashtag?!).  Being able to obtain more knowledge about conducting a classical music ensemble straight from the conductors was definitely a way for the classical music audience to get more in touch with classical music.  People could ask questions to a particular conductor or ask the panel in general.  This is live audience engagement people!   I personally had a great time.

I have also participated in a few weekly twitter chats.  One successful one is #artsed on Thursday evenings starting at 7:00 pm EST for one hour.

For theater folks, #2amt is a must!  This hashtag provides daily conversations about the ins and outs of  theater arts management.

The world is opening to us and becoming smaller and smaller at the same time.  Audience development is about building relationships and Twitter with their little hashtag feature is allowing us to communicate and build relationships in conjunction with particular topics.  This means that  it has now become easier to find others who are passionate about the arts, discuss particular arts topics, and build relationships with your new twitter friends.

If you are not using Twitter’s hashtag feature to get your audience more involved, it might be time to create your very own Twitter hashtag program.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
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~James Stewart

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