The weekend before last my All About Audiences colleague, Catherine, and I hopped across the Irish Sea to conduct an introductory marketing workshop. The workshop organised by the Isle of Man Arts Council was attended by a wide range of organisations, many of them voluntary, including the Manx Gilbert & Sullivan SocietyManx Operatic Society and the Isle of Man Queenie Festival.

During a jam-packed session we covered; marketing & audience development, principles of good print, media relations, social media, e-mail marketing and audience research – surveys & online surveys. During the day the event highlighted to me the diversity and depth of the arts scene on the island, as well as the passion of the participants for their organisations. Social media certainly seemed to be one of the areas they particularly wanted to get to grips with as it has huge potential to generate a ‘buzz’ about their events. My favourite question being “do you have to really commit to social media if you want it to work?” The answer… yes!

To reap the rewards of this ‘brave new world’ you do indeed to ensure you can invest the time, energy and resources into it. Just as you wouldn’t half-heartedly produce a piece of print or run a press and PR campaign you need to be in it for the long-haul. However for voluntary/amateur organisations this can be a real struggle therefore here are five top tips to keep arts organisations, voluntary or otherwise, on track when it comes to social media;

1) Know your audiences – Before you start get a feel for your audience or target audiences. Which online social spaces do they ‘hang out’ in? What do they engage with? Use this to inform your activities.

2) Don’t spread yourself too thinly – If you can’t commit to multiple channels pick one or two that are most suited to what you are trying to achieve. Then give them your best.

3) Be creative – Use social networking technologies in an imaginative way. They have potential far beyond being used as a marketing channel.

4) Monitor and refine – Keep an eye on your outputs. What works? What doesn’t? Use this to benchmark against enabling you to refine your social media activities and content.

5) Give it time – Don’t expect results over night. geriatric1927 might of gone viral but it is probably going to take you a little longer. Set realistic objectives from the outset so you don’t get disheartened. Keep participating and engaging and you will gain momentum as you go.

Image c/o Sir Garlichad licensed under Creative Commons.