Monday, April 22, 2013

Online connections drive real world attendance

Hey there,

So I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel on Audience Engagement, as part of the 2013 Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University. Podcast of all of the panels should be up online soon and be available up on the History page.

Anyway, we were asked a number of questions to prepare to discuss, but we fortunately actually had a wonderfully conversational flow driven by my fellow panelists, engaged attendees. and a wonderful moderator, Ximena Varela.

One of the questions was:
"What is the effectiveness of social media in this arena?"
And in doing some homework, in my Google search for "audience engagement art", one of the results was a report on Audience Engagement from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and the report was just published this past January. Anyway, I wanted to share one particular set of stats, and since the conversation was so great during the symposium we didn't get around to the questinos, I figured I should at least share it here.

In case you didn't know, this was the purpose behind this study, from the report's Introduction: Evaluating the Arts in America:
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project (PIP) designed this survey to understand how arts organizations are using the internet, social media, and other digital technologies to connect with the public. 
The stats were from Section 4: Social Media Use. Which is kinda my main domain and obsession. And so I wanted to share this particular excerpt.
Adults who connect with the arts through social media are much more engaged 
In an August 2011 nationally representative telephone survey of U.S. adults, conducted by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, respondents were asked about different ways they engage with cultural institutions such as museums, arts organizations, and performers. At that time: 
  • 44% of all adults had attended a live music, dance, or theater performance in the 12 months prior to the survey; among those who follow a music/dance/theatrical group or venue on a social networking site, the figure climbs to 77% 
  • 35% of all adults had visited a museum in the last 12 months; among those who follow a museum on a social networking site, the figure is more than double at 82% 
  • 35% of all adults had attended an arts, craft or music festival in the last 12 months; the figure is 55% when looking just at those who follow individual artists, musicians or performers on a social networking site 
  • Finally, 29% of all adults had visited an art gallery, show, or exhibit in the last 12 months. The figure is almost three times as high (82%) among those who follow an art gallery or other visual organization on a social networking site 
These data suggest that adults that connect to arts and cultural organizations through social media are much more likely to attend events and exhibits than those who do not. Presumably, many adults who follow these institutions on social media do so because they are already patrons. Yet given their power to “hook” patrons and expand audience through these platforms, arts organizations may see tremendous dividends in social media properties that are informative, engaging, and relevant to their audience.
That's huge!! Online engagement driving real world action, and not taking away or replacing it like some might fear. And I think it's that last sentence that is particularly crucial, in terms of being "informative, engaging, and relevant" on social media, which isn't done as much as it should be. Too often I see artists and organizations being really good at sharing what can be purchased, for how much, and where, while not including the why.

But I digress, these numbers only tell part of the story!! Let's add one more statistic from Pew Internet: Social Networking.
As of December 2012, 67% of online adults use social networking sites.
That's 2 out of 3 adults who are on the world wide web.

And if you are someone who is trying to make the case for why your arts organizations should use social media and make the time to use it well to others in your organization, I highly recommend checking out the rest of both of the Pew links I shared. in this post.

Any questions, thoughts, other data you've found useful? Please share 'em in the comments,


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