Audience development for the arts: TEAMWORK (Or you cannot leave social marketing just to the marketing department)

I hope you had a nice weekend!  After walking a 10k, I wasn’t able to post on Monday, but I will be back on Friday with my typical plucky commentary.

It’s Wednesday, and I have a guest blog post for you as promised.  Today, my friend and colleague, Howard Seth Cohen, submitted a post about social marketing teamwork.  I agree wholeheartedly that social media tasks should not be left to the marketing department alone.  It’s called social media for a reason, right?  Please do give us feedback on how you are conducting your social media for your organization.  What is working for you?  What is not? 

Here are Howard’s thoughts, and I hope you agree too.


TEAMWORK (Or you cannot leave social marketing just to the marketing department)
by Howard Seth Cohen

As arts organizations look to the social web to engage past and future audiences, the one massive misstep they can make is to think that the only way to engage is through an official channel, e.g. a theater company’s Facebook page.

An ‘official’ Facebook page or Twitter account, while important, can get bogged down in two different ways:
1. The posts and shares and activities can be hampered by the illusory need to stay on brand, and a feeling that each post must be precious, perfect, and on point.
2. When you keep your online activity confined to an official channel, you are only speaking to an audience that is already aware of you and your mission.

Your goal on the social web is to interact with new audiences just as much as it is to reinforce your relationships with your current group of supporters.

The social web of today is just like word of mouth marketing used to be before our telephones became portable and morphed into pocket computers. You want to activate a wide swath of supporters to spread your message for you, in attractive bits of snackable content that reach out to new people- potential audience members that are outside of your current social circles.

You cannot control how someone else uses social media, so simply inviting someone to an event, or emailing, or posting to your page’s wall is not sufficient. Posting to social media once is never enough. If your goal is to reach everyone, you must constantly post so that a relevant message is shared on someone’s wall when they choose to be on line.

The best way to do this is to think of your entire staff as a TEAM of promoters…
Keep the ‘carefully thought out on brand message’ for the official page, and then have everyone, from your interns to board members to guest artists to creative team posting regularly.

Train your team to search for and engage with each other’s posts (re-share, like, and comment on them.) This way, you game the Edgerank algorithm into thinking that your content is important enough to share with more people, and become a Top Story.

Your organization has the power to utilize social media to foster growth and create a larger community of like-minded people ready to support your mission. But you cannot forget that the first word in “Social Media” is SOCIAL. Now is the time to engage your entire team in a thoughtful effort to increase your visibility online. Support in joining social networks, and learning how to create effective posts.

Unfortunately, arts organizations are usually overburdened with production duties, and effective, subversive promotions like this that take time and concerted effort to achieve are never implemented. But they should be.

Understanding that you have to be where your audience is should incite action to engage with them on the social networks where they spend their free time. Communication through social media is the norm for your audience’s demographic. If your current attempts are not effective, it does not mean that social media is not the right place to find your audience… It may just mean you have to reassess how you are reaching out to them. Rethink your social engagement priorities to utilize the social networks your staff already has at their fingertips.

When a team works together to expand their reach, the true power of the social web can create word of mouth that consistently drives new eyes to your content, and eventually your productions themselves. [:O)]

Howard Seth Cohen runs Thomas Hampton Reviews, a free service that helps artists and producers create great looking pr tools. He creates social strategies for online promotions as lead consultant at socialservicesLA.


Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

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Filed under Arts, arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

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