TCG Leadership Call

Hashtag: #tcgcall


For this Webinar, I had this idea that it would be user-generated content! So, we sent out a pre-session survey on a google form and asked for your burning questions and that is how I prepared the content.

The questions were fantastic, but a wide range. Two categories:

Strategy questions: Questions about audience identification, content strategy, engagement techniques, and measurement.

Tactical questions: Every nitty gritty question about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, and other tools. I was surprised that I didn’t get a lot of questions about listening and monitoring techniques which made wonder whether or not you were all already experts in listening or skipped over the listening part.

In addition, there were questions that started something like this: “What theater had done XYZ”. I think one of the benefits of the social media and this new connectedness is that it makes it very easy to connect with colleagues on platforms like Twitter and find out what they are doing.

The definition of an expert is not someone who knows everything, but how good their network is. I’ve found Twitter to be an invaluable professional development tool and keeping informed about my professional interests. In fact, I asked a few questions about theatres and social media on Twitter. This lead me to Devon Smith’s blog and her fantastic study of Social Media and LORT Theatres

Part 1: The Principles of Effective Social Media Strategy

Principles for Effective Social Media Strategy
checklist strategy.pdf
  • Social media strategy connects, supports, and enhances an overall internet communications strategy and connects to offline behavior change or action.
  • Uses listening and engaging techniques to develop a deep understanding of the audience and their “social graphics”
  • Engages in two-way conversation and relationship building with audience versus blasting out content and messages
  • Builds relationships with influencers on social media spaces
  • Easy to remix and share content or repurpose through other channels
  • Leverages a networked effect by encouraging supporters to self-organize
  • Assesses organizational culture and has strategies to address issues that may prevent adoption
  • Allocates enough staff time and has the expertise to implement the strategy
  • Launches small pilots and reiterates using the right metrics to understand what is and what isn’t working..

Too often we skip right to the tactics – some call this “fondling the hammer" – and we’re not as a effective as we should be because we fall prey to the latest tool or technique or get caught up in following the most recent change in a social networking platform.

Strategic Social Media Is Integrated Social Media:

When you think strategically, you need to ensure that your social media is integrated into your overall communications/marketing/audience development objectives. Many of us dip our toes into social media – it is easy to set up and free.

Devon’s study found that:

  • 96% of LORT theatres are on Facebook: (as of April 2009) average 1100 fans
  • 82% of LORT theatres are on Twitter (as of April 2009) average 640 followers
  • 88% of LORT theatres are on YouTube (as of April 2009) average 27 subscribers and 1700 channel views

This is a good beginning to have a benchmark of your peers on social media metrics.

The ones who are most success have:

1: Started with a communications audit by looking at overall marketing/communications objectives, audience, and other channels.
Have answered these questions:
2: Who do you want to reach?
3: What do you want to accomplish?
4: Where can social improve tools and processes?
5: Where can social supplement these tools and processes?
6: Budget and time
7: Opportunities to pilot

Audience Identification: You also need to do your audience research – and for social media this includes setting up a listening post so you understand where your audience is hanging out on social media spaces, but what they’re saying about your organization, performances, etc. It also includes integrating other traditional research – surveys/focus groups/interviews/secondary research.

One of the questions I got on the pre-survey was “We’re in a college town. How can we use social media to attract these younger theater goers?” My first thought was have you asked them? Are you listenign to them? Have you surveyed or interviewed the target audience. Then, once you know what channels they’re on and what know or think about your theatre company – you could shape a conversation starter, offering for them.

Charting: So, if you’ve done this strategic thinking piece, next you want to do some charting. Get a spreadsheet out and create a tab for each month or week or quarter. And put columns in there for your web site content, show schedule, education programs, outreach events, member events, fundraisers -- All you planned events for the year and content– and then go through and think about how you socialize them.

So, maybe you don’t chart your activities or maybe you don’t have to chart everything for the whole year this week. Do it on a quarterly or weekly basis. Or begin with one chunk of activities.

Incremental Steps: I’m a strong believer in incremental steps. I see far too many nonprofits trying to do too much with social media without the capacity to do it. We have just enough staff to do almost everything we need to do and if we’re trying to set up, maintain, feed content, engagement with people on every social media platform known to mankind, we spread ourselves too thin. It is better to be selective, go deep in a few places, than all over the map. This is particularly important if you are just starting out. And if you use an incremental approach for your strategy, that also includes measurement – you know what is worth your time and what isn’t. You can also build out channels incrementally.

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I like to think in these strategy blocks:

Social Content
Generating Buzz
Network/Community Building

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Then pick tools. This might seem like an artificial framework – and in some ways it is. I’ve used in my training and consulting to help nonprofits be more intentional with their social media strategy.

On the pre-survey I got a couple of questions about engagement and social media strategies:

  • How to get people to engage on our social media sites?
  • What is the best method for promoting substantive conversations online?
  • What is the best mix of topics for engaging our audience on social media spaces?

I looked at couple Theatres on Twitter and reviewed what they tweeting. I’m not going to name names, but I saw Tweets like:

“Critics, scholars, audiences and plenty of bloggers are raving about (Name of Production). Join the crowd! Buy tickets URL”

That would be okay except, it was the only thing they were tweeting all times – BUY OUR TICKETS – is not a conversation starter!

Compare this with ACT Theatre in Seattle on Twitter.

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From Portland Center Stage doing a ticket promotion:

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Is your name Mike? then you can see our latest sho for FREE

Over on Facebook, The Denver Center for the Arts study their conversation starters for ideas. They've done a terrific job of engaging their fans with Wall Posts.

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And Actors Theatre of Louisville – is doing it with interesting photos – featuring cute dogs

Engagement is thinking about conversation starters:
1) Take your objective
2) Listen to what people are saying about it
3) Turn it into a question or two
4) Identify follow up points, content

Are you listening to your Twitter followers, Facebook fans/likes, or what people are saying? Do you have a listening/engaging system?

Listening is knowing what is being said online about your organization, field or issue area. Simply scanning a river of information is not enough. Listening involves sifting through online conversations. The value of listening comes from making sense of the data then using it to start conversations with your supporters.

Listening helps you be less of a spammer and more of a service provider.
The heart of listening literacy is composing and refining keywords, pattern analysis, and synthesis of findings. Nonprofit organizations that want to do effective listening should set up searches on the basics.

Here's how to set up your listening system.

Here’s some examples from other fields:
NWF – Green Hour – “kids play outside”
Imarraige – “She said yes”

Think about the phrase or keyword that let’s you start a conversation. If you’re on Twitter – now maybe a few you might tweet that

I got a number of questions about integrating web site content. When I think about branded content and social media, I think about three interlocking circles:

-Branded Content: Content you have control over – your web site, your brochures, your business cards, etc.
-Social Outposts: This is your presence on social media sites – Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, etc.
-Social Content or Co-Created Content: This is what happens through your engagement with audiences and influencers.

Now, let’s think about this in terms of
Crawl, Walk, Run, Flying Stage
Crawling Stage is that you at least have a link to your social media outposts from your web site – they need to be symbolically connected.

Seattle Rep Has an icon in the upper right that says “blog” – when you click through the blog has links to other social media properties
Or the Taproot Theatre which has its icons to social media outposts linked on the top of the page

The better ones have a well integrated look for the social media integration – it’s a start. You want to make sure that your social media URLs are on your print materials – as you reprint, add those urls. Should be in your program books, should be in your email newsletters, should be on signs in the theatre that say “Yelp Us” - great incremental step.

The walking and running stage is when you engage and encourage your fans to create or co-create content.
One of the best examples comes from outside the theatre world – the NWF Green Hour program encourages its audience to upload photos of their kids playing outside – and those become part of the co-created content on the site.

Green Hour Branded Content:

Green Hour: Engagement on Social Channels: Facebook Flickr

Green Hour: Co-Created Content

For more about social content strategies, see these blog posts.

Strategy/Measurement and Piloting

I got a couple of good questions related to this:
• Simply, what is the best way/method to make marketing on social media sites effective?
• Everyone has different social media marketing tools - three tweets a day, facebook only twice a week, only send newsletters on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, do not link facebook to twitter, keep a blog during shows, etc... the list goes on. It seems like everyone is learning how to handle this explosion of social media - and we would love to know what methods work.

The last point is right on. We're still learning what works and that's why it is really important to have a measurement strategy in place.

Social Media Measurement TIps
Actionable Social Media Measurement

I also got a number of questions asking specific tactical questions about different tools. These posts will give you lots of tips and tricks to try.

Theatres and FourSquare
Facebook Tips and Tricks
Facebook Page Measurement Strategy
What Facebook Changes Mean for Your Nonprofit
Multiple Fan Pages or Groups or Just One
Twitter Tips and Tricks
Blogging Tips
Listening Tips and Tricks