Everything we ever knew about the value of authentic engagement is louder, faster, and more challenging.
My partner, Rory MacPherson, and I spend a lot of time interviewing arts organizations about their use of social media to seek out best practices and learn from field exemplars. What I come away with after hundreds of interviews is that effective use of social media is building engagement on steroids!
The best organizations understand that your greatest assets are—to use a Facebook word—your friend relationships with audiences, visitors, fans, and patrons. You can mobilize these groups to help but you CANNOT make those friends in a crisis.
Friends are made on the frontlines through individual experiences that bring fans closer or push them away. We’ve noted 7 important elements of effective engagement which can solidify engagement and make social media mission critical for your fundraising:
- Make it Personal + Concrete + Time Sensitive
- Connect with Values and Value Connections
- Listen and Respond
- Answer the Audience’s Question: What’s in It for Me?
- Cultivate Productive Partnerships
- Measure What Matters
- Involve the Whole Organization
Two outstanding examples:
- Georgia Shakespeare was facing a perfect storm of funding, facing possible closure. The managing director made a personal appeal—not unusual—but what happened next was explosive and exponential. A New York actor who got his start at Georgia Shakespeare sent out a birthday wish—“Don’t buy me a beer for my birthday, donate the price of one to my theatrical ‘birthplace.’” And donations flowed in—$325,000 in 2 weeks from more than 1000 people across the U.S.
It was personal, concrete and used the relationships Georgia Shakespeare had developed over 25 years of making a difference to its community.
- Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater had an opportunity to compete for an American Express Members Project grant. The object was to get the most online votes to win $200,000. Ailey was a finalist (and eventual winner) BECAUSE of the highly-engaged fan base it had already cultivated with “what’s in it for me” events and contests such an opening night sweepstakes with the winner receiving a pair of tickets to Ailey’s Gala performance and the dinner-dance afterwards. Ailey activated its network by encouraging Ailey fans to invite their friends to enter the sweepstakes too, with the added incentive that, for anyone who invited their friends, they got an extra entry into the sweepstakes.
It was compelling, concrete and responsive and successfully answered every fan’s question of “what’s in it for me?”
These are just two of the remarkable stories we’ve been hearing about connecting with values patrons share and valuing what fans say, share, and do.
Any interesting stories to share?
We look forward to hearing more from fellow bloggers during our Arts Marketing Blog Salon and I hope to see you at our National Arts Marketing Project Conference session on Sunday, November 11 at 9:00 a.m.