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Building our Audience
This year at Core, we have spent quite a bit of our audience building effort on our brand development. In this huge endeavor, we have managed to change our logo, add graphics to our building, change our colors, our fonts, our website and much of our language. We have also added new positions to our staff and have more company members than we have had in the past 4 years
Through all of this effort that Core Dance has taken to re-brand and re-fresh, communicating our changes is the most challenging part. Our social media pages have new photos but our page still looks the same and the followers are still growing at a very slow pace, the same with our e-blast clicks and open rates.
Fueling the Change at NAMPC
I begin to search the website for the National Arts Marketing Project, the title of the 2016 conference caught me immediately! “Fueling the Change” It was exactly what I needed, with an emphasis on social media marketing.
As I moved through the different sessions at the NAMPC, one of the universal messages I took away is that, this marketing world changes with each minute of the day and it’s moving as fast as our technology. We have to keep up. It is 2017 and we are marketing like it’s 2011. Just think of your cell phone now and the Blackberry you had 6 years ago, and what about the technological advances of your 2012 Toyota Corolla to your 2017 Corolla, it probably has wifi now, backup cameras and push button start, to name a few. It all became clear to me that the effort I was making to communicate wasn’t as fresh as our new branding.
Trial and Error
Re-branding took a year of planning and research. That is the groundwork that needed to be done and the same needed to be done for our communications. Since the department is staffed by one person, and we are in the middle of the season, I knew this would be challenging. So I started with social media because it's at the majority of society's fingertips. I began by implementing a few tips I received from the social media breakout session.
I tried the light-hearted, funny post, because people like to laugh and enjoy social media for leisure. We receive minimal engagement from this post. It didn’t speak to Core Dance's audience.
I tried the 80/20 rule—80% of your content should be entertaining or about community—not be a hard sell—and 20% should be about Core Dance and our events. They were hit or miss, depending on how well I could relate to our audience.
I realized that I wasn’t engaging our audience because I didn’t really know them. I needed to go back to the drawing board, put a plan together, research and put the same energy into communicating that we did with our branding.
I am at the beginning of the planning work. I began by working with our current tools to figure out where we are in our audience engagement. I looked through Facebook Insights and found that our most engaging posts are those that are directly related to the community, with no ulterior motive. This was also true of our e-blast data.
What do we want?
This data was useful in learning what excites our current audience. Then it was time to set goals. How much do we want to grow, how quickly and what do we want our audience to know about us or how do we want them to see us? These are all questions I need to answer before I can set goals for our audience engagement. I will be taking these questions to the whole organization on an organization-wide planning day, so we can work in the way that our values dictate: in collaboration. At this session I will conduct an internal focus group about where we are currently, and together we will strategize on goals we should set for audience engagement through social media.
Take it to the streets
Once the internal focus group is completed, the external focus group will be held. This is where the challenge lies. How do we get audiences that we have yet to engage to participate in a focus group and what groups do we use? The answer is “the lowest hanging fruit:” the group that goes to dance performances, just not ours; the group of art lovers or creators—the group that has come close to engaging and for some reason just didn’t get around to doing it. We need to do research, find out who that group is and approach them at their level. Once I get the information I need from our current and prospective audience members, the plan is to create content based on speaking to the audience we want to market to. I will continue to test different ways to communicate throughout the summer months until we have a solid plan in place for the next fiscal year. Our plan will include a content social media calendar and scheduled posts.
Social Media ~ make it your mission
My advice to my fellow Audience Building Roundtable members is to set aside dedicated time to develop your social media: let it be your mission and be sure that it is strategic. It isn’t just a simple marketing tool, it isn’t something that we can leave to a volunteer or intern to plan and implement. Don’t just post on social media, but engage, share and comment on others if you want that engagement in return. Start off with mastering Facebook, because it's the most utilized platform and managing more than one won't be as effective, quality over quantity. Lastly, try, if you can, to hire someone specifically for social media. It is a job all its own.
We look forward to growth in audience and engagement through our new information, new tools, and knowledge that we gather