Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In times of trouble, having a voice & being a resource

Hey there,

So just wanted to share some thoughts post-Sandy. First off, thoughts with those in all areas affected by the storm, especially those still without power, and for the families and friends of those we've lost.

Which is actually pretty much the main gist of this post, in terms of arts organizations incorporating timely messaging, particularly regarding resources, during the storm. Yes, content that might not be programatic or mission related necessarily, but information that is relevant to your audiences and community, nevertheless.

For example:
It's quick and simple, and is a great way to be present with your community. One of the major challenges I've been dealing with, one of the major asks is how to diversify content, and how to do more than market your art and ask for donations.

Well, crisis like these are a great opportunity to do just that, and not in an exploitive kind of way. In fact, it's also a chance to share some good vibes, even if you're not a part of the community being affected.
If it's something that is of national importance, or even world news, well a good litmus test would be if it's a sentiment that you yourself would share with your own social media network. These feelings and thoughts should not be artificially fabricated, but should come from a place of authenticity.

And of course there is always re-sharing others' content.  With managing Dance Place's Twitter account, I made sure to do that with several of the local news channels, so that our followers would see their storm related content, if they weren't already following them.

So that's that. Most organizations on the east-coast did use social media to inform their followers and fans about how their programming was affected by the storm. And kudos to those who took the next step and shared resources and information that would help those directly affected by the storm.

What are your thoughts on this? Any other similar instances that have come up with you and your organization? Any organizations you've observed share non-programatic or institutional content that was timely and relevant?

Let me know,


Friday, October 26, 2012

Social Media Time Management

Hey there,

So this post is about managing your time with social media. I write this as I wonder how the past couple of weeks got away from me. I mean, it happens, right? We have busy times, we have slow times, especially in the arts.

Mind you, I am not talking necessarily about the best times to be on social media, or to share your content. That's a topic for another post. I will say that via SocialBro, I learned that no more than 20% of my Twitter followers were ever online at the same time.

But I digress.

With this, the tasks that I'm thinking about when it comes to time management...well, they're the generative kind, the listening kind, the scheduling time. That's the great part with an app like Buffer, you can schedule content to go out when you're not necessarily on, plus you have the added bonus of it automatically scheduling it.

This is all really dependent on what your social media load and tasks are, so I guess let me just step back and throw two things out there.

The first is routine and habit. And I'm sure we've all heard various numbers about how long it takes to form a routine. This article puts out 66 days as the average, explaining that depending on the simplicity or complexity of the task, it could take as few as 18 or as many as 254.

What do you find you do routine in your own life? How do you switch up routine? What's your social media routine in your personal life?

That last question probably won't surprise you but if you're like me and manage your own or your organization's social media channels, switching from personal use to professional use when you're anywhere but in the office can be tricky.

The second thing I want to mention is that your free time isn't free, it's an opportunity. I personally twitch a little bit, seeing myself type this, because sometimes when I have free time, even after a not-so-crazy day in the office, I just want to do nothing and savor it. But your free time is the best time to build that foundation and reinforce your routine, especially if you find yourself catching up with your friends and followers on social media.

So here's one of my first suggestions whenever friends of mine who manage their own social media channels for their work say they don't have enough time. I tell them, just take 15 minutes a day: 5 in the morning, 5 at lunch, and 5 in the evening, to check in and interact with content, even if you're not generating your own.

Just listening, engaging, and responding to others is sometimes all it takes to stay present on social media, and that's probably the most important reason for developing and maintaining a routine. And don't get me wrong, I definitely spend hours a day handling social media for some of the orgs I work with.

But this gets back to capacity and time. If it's just you, I suggest 15 minutes as the MINIMUM. This will be constant that you make a habit out of, that way you can never say you don't have enough time to do it as an excuse not to. Obviously for those with dedicated staff and line-items, this advice probably will not apply, as you have a routine that's explicitly stated and supported on an administrative and organizational level.

Regardless, I definitely recommending Google'ing "social media routine" for many other tips, some more specific and at the 201 level, for further ideas on social media time management. This was more of a philosophical approach, speaking to your mindset of what is routine, but also using the opportunity of free time to buffer for the challenge of busy time.

Any other thoughts or ideas, let me know. Will be back to blogging more regularly as I settle back in to my own routine, now,


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Don't be vague and say, just post more

Hey there,

So it seems more and more arts organizations are encouraging their artists to help promote their work on Social Media. However, I fear that more and more arts organizations are not going farther than asking, or being more specific than "just share more".

To which I say: "?"

Even if you have a social media policy, you can't just leave the rest for people to figure out themselves. I actually heard of a case where someone argued that the great thing about social media is that it's so organic, that you don't need structure.

But, it's like any good improvisation, social media for an organization works best not when it's completely open-ended, but when it has some sort of form or structure. And especially when you want your artists to be involved in marketing for a performance and branding for an org, not only should they be aware of the social media policy, but they should be incorporated into a social media strategy which is communicated to them.

For example:
  • If on Facebook: like every post, share at least one a week, and tag the org in an update before, during, or after at least one rehearsal a week
  • If on Twitter: RT at least one tweet a day, and mention the org in a tweet before, during, or after rehearsal
Again, being specific about anything from quantity of sharing, to the content to share, something more than "just post more" is necessary not just if you want it done well, but just if you want it done at all.

It's difficult (not impossible), for people that might not have experience with communications or marketing, to share engaging content consistently, as well as making sure to diversify the content so they're not all ticket sales call to action or the rehearsal equivalent of "I'm having lunch now".

And if you're not checking in with them regularly or reminding them, then you risk them becoming discouraged to the point where they just stop.

So don't be vague and say "just post more". Don't just have an idea, have a strategy and be specific with what you are asking of your artists. Let them know what your social media policy is, and definitely inform them of any branding that might be relevant, because they have not just joined your marketing team, they have become social media ambassadors for your org.

Not saying this is a requirement, obviously capacity is a factor at any level. And some individual artists might be great representatives for your organization and its work naturally, but many are still just getting their feet wet when it comes to social media for professional uses.

If you can, take this as an opportunity to help them swim,

- JR

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Convert your org's profile to a page, now!!

Hey there,

So I was on Facebook today, and looked over to the "People You May Know" box. Much to my chagrin, there I saw organizations and companies which were still masquerading as people.

Okay, I'm being somewhat dramatic...but only somewhat. This is a probably that is only as serious as you make it, and if you ignore it, it's probably more serious than you think it is.

When I started at Dance Place, as their social media coordinator, one of my first tasks was to reconcile the organization's presence on Facebook.

If this merely meant converting a personal account to a Facebook page, that would've been enough work in and of itself, but it also meant merging the newly converted page with the existing one that was created. Long story best shared for another time. We're going to focus on the conversion, not the merge, in this post.

Facebook actually has a great resource on converting a personal account to a page, go figure right. But one of the main reasons I urge any company or organization that still has a personal account set up is the answer to the first question of why?
Since personal accounts are meant for individual people, they aren't suited to meet your business needs. Pages offer more robust features for organizations, businesses, brands and public figures. Learn more about Facebook Pages 
Maintaining a personal account for anything other than an individual person is a violation of Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. If you don’t convert your noncompliant account to a Page, you risk permanently losing access to the account and all of its content.  
Click here to learn how to convert your personal account to a Page.
So to sum it up, there are three main reasons to convert:
  1. corporations are NOT people too
  2. there are features which help you better engage and measure that engagement
  3. you're breaking the rules and risk losing EVERYTHING
Wow...I never thought I'd be so passionate about converting others.

Anyway, if this situation applies to you or someone you know, you're also going to want to convert sooner than later. The Pros just outweigh the Cons. And you can do so on your own terms, rather than risk losing access and having to start from scratch anyway.

It's really not that scary, either. You get to back up your profile before converting, and well...take a gulp and take a breath, and go ahead and sign the scroll.

Sorry...I couldn't help it. The moral of the story is that one of the first steps in using social media platforms effectively is that they need to be used correctly.

And in this case, it means making sure that you've got a page set up for your organization, and not a personal account. So if you're ready to take the next step, learn how to convert a a personal account to a Facebook page here.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments about this. And for anyone who does this, DEFINITELY please share your experience, and your newly converted Facebook page!!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Make it "Like"-able on Facebook

Hey there,

So this post is kinda meta.  It has to do with Facebook's "like" state of mind and the content you share.

Let me contextualize this by saying that this conversation is similar to the If a tree falls in the forest and no ones around to hear it, does it make a sound?, thought experiment. Check out the link if you're not familiar with it.

The Facebook equivalent to this might be, if a post is shared on your timeline and no one likes, comments, or shares it, does it engage anyone?

Because those are our three options: to like, to comment, to share. And I would say that these have been intentionally and strategically placed in order of engagement, from a minimum level of engagement in terms of effort to a maximum one.

I would say engagement on all three levels, and not necessarily from every person that sees the post, just in general, is the social media pot of gold.

But for the purpose of this post and first steps, I'm going to focus on the Like button, and the need to always  consider making what you post "Like"-able.

Inspirational quotes and cute animal pictures are usually a safe bet. I know, the latter might not necessarily be relevant to your art. The point is, this isn't rocket science, but just something to keep in mind. Because "Like"s are a fundamental currency in the Facebook economy, and one of the few quantitative measurements we have for engagement, with "Share"s being the other one, if you use FB Insights for Pages.

These two combined and contrasted to the number of people who saw your post, give you your posts "Virality", it's life beyond the original post.

But I digress, these are all effects of making your content "Like"-able, and again, it's just something to keep in mind when you're sharing a comment, a link, or media.

One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of people do not actively "Like" things on Facebook. In fact an article from March on ZDNet quotes the median virality for posts from FB pages to be 1.92%. Virality of posts 20%+ was only 1%.

And don't equate the lack of a "Like" to not liking. If you're wondering how to post content that people like, I would say the best person to ask first would be yourself, followed by your friends, and fellow artists & staff members.

There is no science, and audiences will differ from page to page.

My final point to make would be that making a post "Like"-able is especially crucial when sharing something that might not be the best of news, like the passing of someone in your organization's community to use an extreme example. The content added, that little bit you have the opportunity to share makes lemonade out of lemons, and should be something sweet, something hopeful, something inspiring.

Another way to look at it, is to ask yourself if "Like"ing what you're about to share in it's totality will be confusing or not, to yourself or to others.

No, you don't have to do this with every post, or even with any. But if Facebook is a tool, then I would argue you're doing yourself a disservice not to make the most out of the different ways people have to engage with your content.

It also doesn't take that much more time to ask yourself, "Is this 'Like'-able?".

To that extent, if you want specific examples to give you an idea of engaging content (most of which you're probably familiar with), I'd recommend checking out 6 Posts That Build Engagement n Facebook at Mashable.

On a related note, a good practice would be to look around Facebook as your page (and if you don't know how to do this and don't like other FB pages, well, just keep an eye out for a post about that), and find content they share which you (and theoretically your organization) would like, and do just that.

Because with Social Media, you tend to get what you give,

- JR