In my 2010 TAFTO contribution, this is what I wrote:
Over the past decade, the Internet has moved toward becoming a social medium with more participation (encouraging contributions), openness (no barriers to content and feedback), connectedness (networked relationships and sharing content), community (gathering around a common interest), and, of course, conversation (a two-way street).
The Cluetrain Manifesto, still pertinent after more than 10 years, tells us that “conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.” And that means being authentic.
And that sentiment has been the driving force in the social media efforts of the Austin Lyric Opera: messaging for engagement in status updates and tweets; no barriers to behind-the-scenes content; sharing content across channels; fostering an opera fan community; and not shying away from conversations and responding to customer service issues rapidly and personally.
In just one season, we increased the number of Facebook fans by more than 60%, but more importantly, we increased engagement and viral reach. Facebook is now the second largest referral source to the ALO website. By integrating YouTube into other marketing channels, such as event landing pages and email campaigns, we increased channel views by 60%.
Perhaps my proudest social media moment was turning a negative customer experience into a positive outcome by transparently responding and following up and following through with customer service. This patron now regularly “likes” and positively comments on the opera’s status updates.