This post is part of our “Optimizing Your Arts Marketing Practice” blog salon.

Social media has become a bona fide and critical component of the customer path to purchase—and arts marketers are taking advantage.

Arts marketers often assume that only young people use social media, doubting the effect it might have on older patrons in their target audience. However, according to social media management tool Sprout Social, each generation expresses interest in things on social media during their customer journey:

“Millennials follow brands for entertainment value (38%) and information (42%), whereas Gen X is more likely to follow for contests (41%), deals and promotions (58%). Baby Boomers fall somewhere in the middle and are looking for a healthy mix of deals and promotion (60%) and information (53%).”

Arts marketers are successfully using social media to make their organizations more relatable, promote upcoming shows or exhibits, and gain memberships with special announcements and behind-the-scenes content.

While a positive experience at the box office or on-site can lead to a purchase or return visit, social media is becoming more important in this role. In fact, 71% of people say they are more likely to buy from a company when they have a positive experience with them on social media.

Even with a limited staff, it’s important to dedicate someone on your team to this role to ensure your brand is actively engaging with patrons on social media. As recorded by eMarketer, adults are projected to spend 98 minutes per day on social media in 2019 (Facebook: 43 minutes, Snapchat: 28 minutes, Instagram: 27 minutes).

Tips for building a social media strategy to keep up with trends
  • Importance of storytelling over sales. Social media has long been a tool for driving traffic and sales to an organization’s website. While this still holds true, social algorithm and consumer trends are moving towards storytelling over sales. Post photos or videos with call-to-action text and links, aimed at generating comments and shares that increase engagement.
  • Show personality. Show your organization’s personality to let your audience connect with your brand. A common rule of thumb is 80% of content should be fun, interesting and sharable, reserving 20% of posts as direct sales messages.
  • Make posts short and sweet. Optimize by staying within 100 characters or less. According to eMarketer, shorter posts are more effective and “posts with 80 characters or less have a 27% higher engagement rate.”
  • Engage and monitor. Set a schedule to monitor and respond to customer service issues, possibly once per day. Users are increasingly going to social platforms to post reviews or voice complaints and concerns. Welcome the feedback, and create an uplifting environment. If any issues occur, make sure to apologize with sincerity.
  • Experiment with ads for better reach.

    • “90.5% of US companies are using social media for marketing purposes,” which is causing a decrease of reach on organic posts. To make sure your content is reaching your target audience in the most effective way, consider paid social ads.
    • Determine your budget. If you haven’t used paid social before, start small and then grow. Starting with even $15-$25 can boost results as you become familiar with paid posting.
    • Decide on the goal of the post (ex: drive traffic to ticket sales webpage).
    • Promote share-worthy content. Invest in great photography, particularly when paid ads are applied.
    • Create and use videos as a technique to engage your target audience. According to Sprout Social, close to 60% of all U.S. internet users selected Facebook to watch videos.