Facebook in the Arts: In Honor of Mark Zuckerberg's Visit to CMU

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook

With the announcement that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will make his first visit to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) today, the Technology In the Arts team thought it would be appropriate to take a look back on the groundbreaking social media platform and the impact it’s had on how arts organizations engage their audiences. CMU is one of three campuses being visited by Zuckerberg during an East Coast college tour. While here, he will meet with faculty and students and give a talk to an invitation-only audience. He will be joined by Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's vice president of engineering.

Here’s a bit of Facebook Trivia to get us started:

  • More than 800 million active users
  • More than 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events
  • More than 350 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices
  • Facebook is also the most popular social network for all age demographics according to a Forrester Research Survey

One of the most interesting studies on how Facebook has affected arts and cultural organizations was conducted this past summer. ‘The Tangled Web of Social Media’ was a study commissioned by Theatre Bay Area in 2011. The study examined the social media habits of 207 diverse nonprofit arts and cultural organizations with the goal of understanding how social media was being used and what best practices emerged as a result. The study found that Facebook was by far the most popular social network used by these arts organizations. Another similar finding was that community members were eight times more active commenting on the Facebook posts made by arts organizations than mentioning those same organizations on Twitter.

Here are a few ways in which Facebook has revolutionized how arts organizations are engaging with audiences:

  1. Sharing Content: Arguably one of the most important ways Facebook has impacted arts organizations is the ability to share and distribute content. Devon Smith recently shared an important comment made by Adam Connor from Facebook during the High Impact Social Media Conference: History of the internet= Browse (Yahoo) –> Search (Google) –> Discover (Facebook). Whether it’s a special Halloween photo from MOMA or a series of intriguing videos from the San Francisco Ballet, arts organizations have the opportunity to share a variety of content with audiences.
  2. Giving Campaigns: Facebook has also impacted the way audiences can contribute financially to their favorite organizations. The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published an article about a California boy, Paddy O’Brien, whose inspirational story about his struggle with bone cancer resulted in 1,000 donations to the Children’s Hospital who treated him via the Facebook Causes platform.
  3. Advertisement Campaigns: Facebook Ad Campaigns aren’t just for boosting numbers on fan or group pages. Many organizations have had success with attracting new fans to their events through successful ad campaigns. For further reference, Tech In The Arts published an article on best practices for running ad campaigns.
  4. Ticket Buying: Companies like TicketForce have made it possible for many artists and organizations to sell tickets directly through their brand’s Facebook Page. The client operates so that ticket buyers do not have to leave the Facebook Page in order to purchase tickets.
  5. Merchandise Sales: Facebook has also provided the opportunity for artists and organizations to sell merchandise on their pages.
  6. Building Communities through Facebook Groups: Many arts organizations have also been experimenting with hosting group pages as opposed to “regular” pages. Groups can provide an opportunity for fans to interact with each other on a more intimate level. Beth Kanter recently featured a guest post on her blog regarding best practices for nonprofits interested in building a group page.

There’s no doubt that this social media giant has had an incredible impact on the way arts organizations interact with audiences and will continue to do so. Ultimately, many of these organizations are finding creative ways to interact with existing fans and build new audiences in a manner that has never been done before.

How has Facebook impacted your organization, either positively or negatively?