In arts organizations, there is a great openness in wanting to be on the cutting edge in their use of technologies. With the economic downturn of 2008, arts organizations were heavily affected. Donations were down which lead to budget cuts and consolidation of administrative job roles took place. Part of these budget cuts were in the marketing and development roles so these employees have had to strive for more results with less money.
Arts organizations are realizing to reach their intended target markets, they need to be social. According to a national study, digital and social media are delivering results for arts organizations. This study looked at how arts organizations are using digital and social media and the results they had obtained. One of the challenges was the measurement and return-on-investment (ROI) because very few were aware of how to set goals and define success. The study began with a cross-section of 47 conveners around the US, then it expanded to all arts organizations. Of 1,601 respondents, 70% stated digital and social media are delivering on their promise and hype. More arts organizations are using social media for experimenting and optimizing. 80% of these arts organizations feel their digital and social efforts are effective. In addition to using digital media to get into technology, it is about using new channels for communication and share what they know best. Museums are using websites as extensions of marketing but digital media has become a “gateway to connect people with art.”
One interesting finding is budgets and geography are not a constraint for innovation. Through digital and social media, many arts organizations with budgets under $500,000 are using these tools to promote their events online. The study’s respondents are achieving meaningful results in raising money online and developing fan networks by going social. For example, Georgia Shakespeare theater organization was facing closure because of shortfalls in public and private funding. With an appeal made on Facebook by its managing director to save the organization, it raised $150,000 in two weeks from people throughout the US. Most respondents are using Google Analytics to review web traffic, but there is not concise method for measuring influence or interaction.
In a survey designed by The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, it reviewed how arts organizations use the Internet and social media to connect with the public. By arts organizations going social, there are a few negative social media experiences mentioned such as social media being time consuming, artists’ posts being self-serving and promoting themselves through the organization’s profile, spam cluttering Facebook and Twitter pages, and accounts being hacked. When there are negative posts, most organizations are using this feedback to fix problems and bette serve patrons. However, the positive experiences of increased events attendance, increase in ticket sales, increased public awareness, and ability to support fundraising efforts.
With the positive experiences outweighing the negative experiences, arts organizations are more at risk by not going social.