Four Tips for Using Social Media to Gain Public Support for Your Arts Organization

This past week I was honored to be a panelist in an event hosted by The Long Island Arts Alliance, “Schools Without the Arts: Mobilizing Public Support.”

I spoke about the inspiration for starting NY Creative Interns and how we have used social media to grow. Below is a summary of my presentation: tips on how arts organizations can gain support and awareness by starting to use social media.

Long Island Arts Association Panel Emily Miethner

Decide on a Goal

Brand awareness, ticket sales, petition signatures? What are you trying to accomplish by investing in social media? Be sure to base your resources (time and money) on what platforms will help you achieve those goals. For NY Creative Interns, our goal is for our community to attend our events. Through talking to our guests and taking surveys, we’ve found Meetup is the number one way people discover our organization, so that’s the only platform we spend money on ($140 a year).

Do Your Research and Experiment

What platforms are available? There are lots out there, and it’s important to experiment with many of them so you can make a educated decision about which will best support your goals. It will be impossible to be on every social network, so make sure you take the time to discover which you should focus on. Don’t just set up Twitter and Facebook and assume those are the best for you.

Invest in Niche Communities

What are the first things that come to mind when you think of social media? Probably Facebook and Twitter. Yet, sometimes utilizing smaller, lesser known platforms will be better in helping you achieve your goal. For us, that smaller platform is  Skillshare. Skillshare allows anyone to learn anything from anyone. It’s essentially a class planning platform where people can learn anything from baking scones to using social media in their job search. By using Skillshare we’ve shoehorned ourselves into a community of people who are passionate about learning and bettering themselves; which are the types of people we want in our community. As a result of Skillshare we’ve gained a lot of exposure and most importantly, have sold a lot of tickets to events.

Use Social Media to Have Better Conversations Offline

Most of our speakers, sponsors, and venues have come through good old fashioned networking. It’s important to use social media to scale the amount of people you connect with. For instance, Twitter is an easy way to get on people’s radar by retweeting.

If you grow a loyal audience of supporters, they will want to help by sharing your messages. Below is a shot of some tweets that tell the story of how we got a lovely dessert sponsor for our One Year Anniversary Bash.

NY Creative Interns Twitter

More Social Media Resources

The Tangled Web: Social Media and the Arts
Full Report | Press Release
Theatre Bay Area commissioned this 30-page report on the social media habits of 207 arts and cultural organizations from across the country. Commissioned as part of Leveraging Social Media, and funded by the Wallace Foundation, Grants for the Arts, The San Francisco Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Koret Foundation.

Build DC Public School Kids a FoodPrints Teaching Kitchen! — A Successful Kickstarter Project that raised over $60,000
Excerpt: Right now, our cooking classes are held in a regular classroom. We cook on portable hot plates, have no oven or dishwasher and wash our fresh garden produce in a tiny science lab sink. Before the school year starts in Fall 2011, we must transform our classroom space into a proper teaching kitchen. With your help we can do it.

Platforms for starting blogs or websites

  • Posterous
  • Tumblr
  • Wix
  • WordPress

Niche Communities for Educators/Nonprofits:

Have you had any person successes with your arts organizations with social media? Please share in the comments.
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