Monday, September 24, 2012

Tweet Seats: to tweet or not to tweet

Hey there,

So I'm in this group for social media managers of LGBT choruses, and I posted a link about the Nashville Symphony Orchestra's recent audience engagement efforts, Nashville Symphony 'Tweet Seats' reach broader audience. There were several reactions, one in favor, one willing to explore, and one adamantly against it, going so far as to say it was an idea they hated, that the audience's focus belonged on stage, and that the concept of Tweet Seats was discouraging. Here's my response:

Tom, as an artist & producer, I completely agree with you. But as an arts administrator & a social media coordinator, I think it would be ignorant (pardon my bluntness) for us not explore the pros and cons of tweet seats, and to do so objectively, and maybe not even objectively, but from the audience members' point of view, not the artist. 
Don't get me wrong, I struggle with this because as an artist, the theatre is a sacred space for me. It's a place where experiences happen in, and ONLY in, that moment, and it sends chills down my artistic spine to think about encouraging an activity that takes an audience member out of that moment. Especially as people increasingly seem to struggle with disconnecting in general, live performance is one of the few remaining places that offers respite from that. 
But with tweet seats, the only person who loses out when tweeting is that audience member. And there are all sorts of reasons audience members might lose focus on the art: it's not their cup of tea, they're bored, whatever. 
On some level, I actually find it relieving that someone might be so moved by something they just saw and/or heard, that they were compelled to share their reaction with the Twittersphere. Yes, they might be losing focus of what's happening in the moment, but it's because of what JUST happened, not in spite of. And it's probably the only reason which makes me stop that visceral knee-jerk reaction to the image of someone on their mobile device at a live performance. 
So...I can't help but wonder if that might just be worth the sacrifice. There's something powerful and I would argue even valuable in that immediate response that you don't get from tweets at intermission or after the performance.  
And if you empower a handful of audience members to be your real-time virtual ambassadors during a performance, sharing a digital window into something that is still an exclusive experience to those who are present, then I personally believe it is our duty to see if the benefits might not outweigh the losses.
So...there. I'm obviously conflicted, but also playing serious Devil's Advocate. I will say, I have yet to hear an argument against tweet seats that actually talks about the benefits. To those who argue against them, there are none. Which to me is a red flag that any kind of objectivity is not present.

And, I hate to compare art to entertainment, as well as the fact that they exist on a spectrum and it's rarely either or, but I have a bunch of friends who saw the Madonna concert last night, and updated their status (apparently she was over 2 hours late) and took photos, some very, VERY close to the stage.

While I don't advocate taking photos, that example just reinforces the power of sharing the moment with one's virtual community, IN that moment.

But I digress. What are the Pro's and what are the Con's? What are they, in particular, as an artist, as an arts administrator, as an audience member? I believe that second question is particularly crucial because it provides much needed context to what might be our subjective responses and reactions.

So, what do you think?


P.S. I started a new blog, Hashtag the Arts, specifically dedicated to Social Media and the Arts. And when I set up its Pinterest account, I created a board specifically dedicated to Tweet Seats; check it out.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

One way NOT to use a QR code

Hey there,

This one's a quickie.

Just had to share as I've had an ongoing conversation and debate about the usefulness, relevance, and effectiveness of QR codes with a friend (*cough* Ricky *cough*).

If you're not familiar with QR codes, there's a good chance you've still seen them. They're a kind of visual morse code in square form. "QR" stands for "quick response" and you can see an image of it at the Wikipedia page.

The QR code for this blog is:

So that's what one looks like. And if you're familiar with them already, you'll already understand how pointless it was for me to include that as anything but an example. Because the value of QR codes are in their functionality.

But I digress; I'll get to that. How this all started is I was on Facebook this evening, and came across a post from an arts organization's page, asking for donations, and while there were a couple of links, this image was what the text was attached to:

Here's the thing. QR codes are meant to be scanned by mobile devices....

I know, so why would someone post it onto social media??

To be fair, while the first link in the accompanying text went to aNOther link with the QR image, the second one did go to the donation page.

But with tech, less is more, and the less work more people have to do to get to information, the more likely the will follow through on your call to action.

And it's not like this requires deep analysis. Just thinking about it, it's like, do they a) expect me to pull out my phone if I'm looking at this on my laptop, just to go to a link on my phone or b) hope someone is near me with their own phone AND a QR scanner, so they can scan the link on my mobile screen and go to the link on theirs?


Don't get me wrong, I believe QR codes do have their place, and have been used well, like when New York's Central Park utilized them for an Arbor Day event. You can read about it at Drew's Marketing Minute piece from about a year and a half ago.

FYI: If you want to generate your own QR codes, you can do so for free at this site: Kaywa QR Code. Just remember to click on the dimmer, "Generate Free" button.

But I digress. That's my rant. If you're going to use it, I believe it has it's greatest power in print materials, site-specific places, live events, etc. But NOT shared via a platform (social or otherwise) where people are already viewing content online. And you can use QR codes not just to send people to links (which are IDEALLY mobile-optimized), but to call, text or SMS as well.

But don't, don't, DON'T share a QR code via social media, i.e. a platform which people will already be online, in order to send them to an online destination. Just include the link. Obviously this is all my personal opinion.

If you disagree, please share why. If you've used QR codes effectively via any medium, please share how you did it, and how it was successful for you. Any other thoughts or questions, leave those too!


Saturday, September 08, 2012

Conducting a Social Media Audit

Hey there,

As part of my Marketing Internship at Dance Place, I'm conducting a social media audit of the org. I've never done one before, so this'll be fun.

Of course, as with many other things, the first step I took was google "social media audit". I figured I'd check out the links on the first page, and then re-rank 'em based on what I thought was useful, according to certain criteria. First, here's a brief synopsis of the sides in the order they initially appeared on the first page.

  1. Affinitive's Social Media Audit - "A step-by-step strategic consumer engagement 'playbook' to put your best foot forward in social marketing."

    This page is under Affinitive's 'solutions' tab, in their main navigation bar. It outlines basic steps for an SM auditing service they offer, internal & external review, then insight and recommendation.

  2. Social Media Audit: Groupofmind's Online Arts Marketing Diagnostic System - "Assess & improve your arts marketing."

    I felt like I hit a bit of a home run with this one, because it was specific to the arts. It is still a service provided by a company, but the steps they outline are more actionable and not based on a single audit. Their first step is an internal review of capacity, then educating relevant parties on how to understand the review and move forward based on those results. The organization's staff is then told there will be a follow up review sometime in the next six months, followed be a meeting to analyze outcomes and reinforce best practices.

  3. How to Conduct a Comprehensive Social Media Audit (5/5/11) - "Nikki [Little] is one of those younger folks I wish I would have been more like when I was her age. She’s smart. Busts her tail. And, she’s not afraid to share her opinions. Which, is what she’s doing here today. I’ll let Nikki’s words do the talking…"

    This is a guest post on Arik Hanson's Communication Conversations site. What's great is that Nikki breaks down not just what to look at and how to present it, but does so by asking pertinent questions that get at the heart of good social media. She makes one particular point about not just quantity but quality, and existing platforms being used to spark conversation rather than just push messaging.

    And as a bonus she mentions a guest post on another site, that she came across in prepping her own, Five Ways to Create a Social Media Audit (4/18/11). Definitely an efficient list of things to check, plus the author reinforces the fact that an SM audit, like any other, isn't just a one-time thing. It is a continuing process of measurement and evaluation.

  4. 60 Minutes to a More Efficient Social Business Strategy (4/25/12) - "Josh S. Peters is the co-author of TwittFaced, and is the social media manager at The Search Agency. Follow him @JoshSPeters."

    While this actual link didn't appear on the 1st page of Google results for the search, Josh's page on his own site did, and it linked to this. Although I initially would say that anything done well isn't something necessarily done quickly, Josh acknowledges this at the get-go. His tips are not about going in-depth with engagement and whatnot,  but it's a quick look with a particular focus on Search Engine Optimization and branding.

    I'd recommend this as a useful tool between the larger audits. Also, one thing he mentions which I had suggested my first day of the internship, was to have a dedicated email address to an org's social media, and that it's not tied to an individual's account. Too often an org loses access to some of its SM because of staff transition, and wastes significant amounts of time just troubleshooting that.

  5. How to Conduct a Social Media Audit (8/13/10) - "The ability to conduct a thorough and meaningful social media audit is an invaluable weapon in a good marketing arsenal. Whether you’re a consultant getting started with a new client, or an in-house SMM (Social Media Marketer – so I don’t have to type that out every time) looking to improve your current efforts – compiling a holistic and complete picture of your current state of affairs is critical."

    Must-read. A great guide for the DIY folks. I won't try to sum up what Kristy wrote. While succinct and efficient, she also covers a lot of ground, provides a lot of insight. I will point out that one of her points regarding securing branding on other websites, is one I practice myself. Especially on new platforms, I'd rather have a non-active but accurate profile set up than risk someone else claiming my branded social ID. It's a choice, but one I think has more pros than cons in the long run.

  6. Download the Social Media Audit Workbook (5/13/12) - "We tend to create the social media presence for our businesses in an organic fashion, which is the natural way to grow relationships right? New tools pop up we just HAVE to try, or our network of connections asks us to join a new network in order to communicate with them."

    The workbook's free. It doesn't hurt to download it, and there are a number of great tips. The highlight for me is a comprehensive list of the more high-profiled social media platforms on the second page. He also makes a great recommendation of doing an audit quarterly. Another suggestion is generating a word cloud for one's twitter account, using TweetCloud. It's a great visual representation of one's most used verbage, useful if you have specific branding guidelines that you could use it to analyze.

  7. Social Media Audit/Assurance Program - "IT audit and assurance professionals are expected to customize this document to the environment in which they are performing an assurance process. This document is to be used as a review tool and starting point."

    Sounds great, but the link to purchase the e-book was not working as of the time of this post.

  8. ABCs of The Social Media Audit (3/23/12) - "This blog post was written by our Marketing Intern, Meghan Bisbey. You can follow her on Twitter @MeghanBisbey."

    This was a brief post which outlined a great lens for an SM audit, in terms of elements to evaluate: strategy, implementation, integration, & support. A great reminder of how it's really connected to an organization's overall communication and PR efforts, by looking at how social media really fits in to the big picture.

  9. Social Media Audit (11/18/10)- "Social media is becoming more and more prevalent, and it's use within the nonprofit sector is widespread. In fact, recent studies have indicated that top nonprofit organizations currently outpace the top for-profit businesses in the use of social media."

    This is probably one of the most thorough and comprehensive outlines for an SM audit I've come across, and it's from a nonprofit perspective. What's great is the rubric for measuring aspects of different elements within Strategy, Implementation, Integration, and Support, in terms of levels of practice. If there would be one take away from this guide, it would be this, from not performed to optimized and all the steps in between.

  10. How to Audit Your Social Media Efforts: 20+ Questions to Ask Yourself - "If you look around the social web a lot like me, you will agree that most social media campaigns suck. Some people think social media is just fun. Some however see it as an opportunity. What do you think about using social media for business?"

    This is a nice simple check list, something to get the conversation started. And it breaks down the questions into Branding, Integration, Content, Measurement, and Overall.
So that's that. Before I go on to my personal ranking for usefulness, here are some bonus links:
  • Social Media Audits (Nonprofit Orgs) - This is a link that popped up from my social results, and it's a service that Heather Mansfield "owner of DIOSA Communications, principal blogger at Nonprofit Tech 2.0, and author of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits" offers. I've gotten the book and am making my way through it, and from it's outline, it's a pretty thorough audit from someone who eats, breaths, and lives social media for nonprofits.
  • How to Perform a Social Audit [Infographic] - Another linked that popped up from my social results, I love infographic's to begin with. The bonus is that it provides links to two white papers, one on conducting an audit, and another on case studies. Granted, they look at nationally recognized brands, but in terms of methods of measurement, there are definitely takeaways any size organizations can use.
So looking at this from an arts and nonprofit perspective, I thought I'd put the following forth.

My recommendations, the resources I found most useful for being able to implement an SM audit myself, are:
If more generative, exploratory guidelines and questions are what would be useful, I'd suggest:
Was this useful? Are there any other social media audit resources out there anyone else would recommend? Keep in mind, that I simply looked at the first page of Google results at the time of this post, with a couple of links from social network thrown in.

Keep an eye out for future blogs as I continue to explore and refine my own social media toolkit and perspective. And definitely touch base if you've done your own SM audit, things you learned, challenges you faced, and anything else.

Until next time,