Developing Your Online Content Strategy
As Michelle Paul and I wrote in Breaking the Fifth Wall: Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century, this kind of content can help you engage with your audience online after they leave your venue. This is the “glue” that can keep them focused on your organization so that when it comes time for your next event, you are not “out of sight, out of mind.”
We know that people are hungry for compelling content that is authentic and not overly produced, as evidenced by the raw reality TV shows that get great ratings. We also know that well-educated and curious people (the kind that we know go to arts events!) are drawn to “smart” content. Witness the amazing popularity of the TED Talks, a phenomenon online and now on NPR. The key is to develop a content strategy and then produce regularly to build a following. From that following, you can build and grow engagement, and drive traffic back to your website. The rub is that you can’t do this for a couple of months and give up; you must commit to it, because you need to “train” patrons that you have a lot to offer, and that takes time.
At the top of your agenda should be an organizational decision about what kind of content you want to put out there. In future blog posts I’ll provide more specific ideas, but you know that you have creative and interesting people on your staff and coming to your organization all the time, most of whom would be thrilled to be the subject of blog posts, video interviews, and the like. And what’s great about the time in which we’re living is that you have all these incredible digital distribution tools at your fingertips – emails, Facebook posts, tweets, YouTube and Vine videos, Pinterest boards – there’s never been a better time to develop your “offstage” content.
Let your patrons consume your content elsewhere, on their platform or site of choice, but also make sure to include “call to action” links that get patrons to visit your site and do the things you want them to do, such as buy tickets, make donations, and sign up for your email list. And once you’re set on a path to creating a coherent set of content, to the extent you can, you should also publish it on your own website. As we have seen over the past decade or so, social media sites have their ups and downs. Remember GeoCities, Hometown AOL, MySpace, or Friendster? Facebook and Instagram are popular now, but surely there will be other new social media outlets in the future. If you publish something great only on Facebook, what happens when the audience turns away from it? Also, you want to be mindful of those people who aren’t on Facebook all the time.
If this topic interests you as it does me, I hope you’ll join me when I partner with marketing consultant Joseph Burch (www.emarketingdoctor.com) at the Arts Reach Conference in San Francisco on October 24-26. We’re presenting the Morning Intensive on October 24. We’ve titled our session “Your 2014 Digital Marketing & Fundraising Toolkit – 21 Ways to Increase Attendance, Donations & Patron Engagement.”
Finally, if you’re already well along in your content strategy, please jump in below and post some of your best stuff. I’m eager to share what’s already out there.
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