Welcome to the second installment of the Social Media Spotlight, our monthly feature focusing on arts organizations’ social media strategies.
The global trend of participation in social networks and social media is one to which arts managers have been paying a great deal of attention. With over 500 million active Facebook users, 55 million tweets being sent per day and over 133 million active bloggers in the United States alone, arts organizations and arts managers are growing increasingly interested in identifying ways to engage their audiences and connect to new audiences via social media.
One of the more recent example of the intersection of social media and audience development is the creation of the New York Theatre Network (NYTN). Launched on September 28, NYTN seeks to be “your hub for what’s happening on New York City Stages”. The network focuses specifically on theatre events in New York City, and while any theatre fan can check out the latest happenings, only member theatres are able to upload content about their organization onto the website.
NYTN is unique in that it was designed to be an interactive social network as opposed to a static directory and listing of information. Its Facebook Connect feature enables users to find out what their friends are ‘liking’, ‘attending’ and/or ‘recommending’ and also allows users to make their own recommendations.
Theatres are also encouraged to interact with audiences as they are able to upload YouTube videos, their Twitter stream, blog posts and an event calendar onto their pages. A gracious sponsorship from Flip Video’s Spotlight For Good Program made it possible for member theatres to record video and upload this content onto their page.
NYTN is the result of a cooperative effort between The Alliance of Resident Theatres/ New York and theatre industry website Theater Mania. A.R.T. New York Executive Director Virginia Louloudes was inspired by a keynote speech delivered by Diane Ragsdale of the Andrew Mellon Foundation two years ago in which she addressed the decline in arts participation and examined possible solutions for this dilemma. One suggestion was for arts organizations to consider becoming “arts concierges” and help consumers find shows and performances based on their individual tastes.
Louloudes saw an opportunity to create a site that would serve as a “one stop shop” for theatre fans, encourage a new level of interaction between theatres and audiences, and introduce fans to new theatres and upcoming shows they may not have been aware of. The project was an extensive one and called for outside funding, workshops with member theatres, and a partnership with Theater Mania for technological support. While such an ambitious project may not be feasible for all arts organizations, Louloudes hopes that the creation of NYTN will encourage arts managers to develop their own social media strategies, especially since most platforms are free.
Those interested in further reading on NYTN's marketing efforts should also consult the following blog articles from Devon Smith, who served as project manager for NYTN and frequently blogs about social media: