National Benchmarking Survey: Social Media Best Practices for Small Arts Organizations



Its hard to avoid social media when working in the arts management world. Many arts organizations rely on various channels to get the word out about upcoming events, target new patrons, or communicate with current members and fans. We recently shared the results from the social media portion of a national benchmarking study (see bottom of this post for more detail about the survey). Check it out if you missed it to see how your organization compares. 

Now that all the data is collected -- what lessons can be learned for increased success?

1. Use your analytics for success

By using Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, and other analytics tools for social media and websites, organizations obtained audience information, which included demographic information and psychographic information. For example, one interviewed organization said, “We noticed a 50/50 split between desktop and mobile users. Our fans are 40% men and 60% women on social media but our ticket buyers are significantly female dominated.” 

Another interviewed organization mentioned: “We just did an A/B test using two different Facebook ads using different type of video – a performance video and an interview video – and looked to see which one was more favored in order to make adjustments.” 

2. Match social media content to the audience’s tendencies and preferences

There are a variety of tools and tactics can be used on various platforms. No matter which social media platform is used, the target audience should be identified first. Then the organization can understand their target’s preferences and interests by using social media tools and website analytics. The content promoted through social media should then match the preferences and interests of the target audience. For instance, use A/B tests on different post formats or content styles to discover what content results in the greatest ticket sale conversions as determined by Google Analytics.

3. Set goals, use strategy & know your conversion rates

Social media is a wonderful tool for engagement, but for limited-resource organizations, engaging without goals leaves an organization exhausted and, often, its fans confused.  What goals should you set?

  1. How many posts per week on what platforms? Small organizations can't be everywhere all the time, so be where are target audiences are . You can use your analytics to figure out where they are and what channels are most successful. Check out AMT Lab's previous articles on how to leverage Facebook Insights, how to use Google Analytics creatively, and a background on social listening analytics.
  2.  What are the posts designed to do?  Small organizations don't have time to waste.  Planning is key.  Most recommendations in the social media field note that 70-80% should be sharing and conversations about your audience and your artists with 20-30% about your tickets, donation drives and transactions.  If you know you want to grow your engagement rate by 5% for an upcoming concert, establish a posting strategy to accomplish that with competitions or debates.  If you want to drive 20% of your ticket traffic from social, then incentivize your audience and boost your posts or create an ad.  Click here to find out how to use Facebook as an acquisition tool by creating a lead generating ad for your organization.
  3. Finally, use your online data weekly as part of your marketing evaluation -- not just ticket sales.  Using your analytics, how are you tracking to your goals? What have you learned? 

Stay tuned next time to see results and takeaways specific to successful patron data collection. 

*Each Masters in Arts Management candidate at Carnegie Mellon University must complete a systems synthesis project in order to obtain their degree. This semester long capstone project allows each student to work alongside other students in a team environment to solve real world problems for arts organizations. Last semester, one of the critical components to finding best practices in the field for a client included creating, administering, and analyzing a national benchmarking survey to 32 organizations in 15 cities across the country comparable to Pittsburgh that met the following criteria:

•   Had a budget less than $1.3 million

•   Were a presenting performing arts organization

•   Were chamber music-focused

Note: Figures listed above represent percentages of those who answered the question.