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Yell more to sell more? Social networks and the art of conversation

SEningSocial media tools are brilliant. Your membership grows organically as people virtually recommend you to their networks! New conversations start that you’d have never dreamed up! Members use the site and its tools in ways that you’d never thought of or expected! This has been the case with a number of social networks I’ve been involved in recently for the arts sector. AmbITion‘s regional social networks and the National Theatre Wales‘ networks all have arts groups as members. And guess what? They want to use the events section to advertise their own events!!

With the regional AmbITion networks, I hadn’t really thought about this before, and I’d just sort of assumed that we’d use that section for just our events – very simple listings that would be enhanced by all the other content you can find about AmbITion and its events elsewhere on the network site. But guess what – the arts organisations had other ideas, saw an opportunity and grabbed the potential channel to advertise events to our wonderful communities too!

You’ll have noticed that the way we live, communicate, do business has changed. Advertising has also changed, even for the arts sector! In the “olden days” (just a few years ago) you just had to yell more to sell more. More ads in more places. Now you have to talk more to sell more. Cultivate, converse, collaborate. People now subscribe to people, not to organisations, so that means brands need to become conversations. That’s what the National Theatre Wales is trialling by using a social network platform as its initial web presence.

But probably, we don’t want any social network to become overrun with event listings. Event listings just don’t say ENOUGH about you!

Making use of your own blog – a common facility on social network platforms – to get talking about your organisation and what you’re up to is a more interesting way to hear about the whole of your organisation and get a feel for what you’re like and what you want to achieve with your art. Its certainly better than being just another listing… so here’s some tips for blogging about your organisation.

1. Don’t yell more to sell more – talk to us, as a person! Stop writing about your arts group and write about the reader. Pardon? Get our attention! Write about what’s of interest and important to the reader, instead of blatantly promoting your latest show. If getting behind the scenes with your techie staff is riveting to your readers (us – it is! I like that stuff!), then make sure that content is there. If videoing the artists in rehearsal is something you’re doing, share that too! It gives us as readers more insight into what you’re up to, and will probably spark our interest enough to want to come along and see your event. See- talk more to sell more 🙂

2. Start replying to comments. People who comment on blogs are there for the conversation, so don’t just let the comments lie. Acknowledge each commenter and keep the discussion going. I just really don’t know how Hamlet and his monologues would get along on social networking. It seems that dialogue works better.

3. Add contact information. Your readers will want to be in touch about stuff that might not be appropriate for the comments. Give them a way to do that and make it as obvious as possible.

4. Add a photo of yourself! Even blogs about organisational stuff should be a little more personal than your typical corporate communications. A picture of your mug helps your readers feel more connected – its easier to trust a smiley face than a blank, faceless avatar. Plus, your readers’ll then know who to nobble at the interval with suggestions for future blog posts :-).

Arts Journal’s Doug McLennan has also blogged today on how to make the most of your social media platforms if you’re an arts organisation: read and ingest his excellent suggestions here.