Notes from the #acso2010 conference

I just returned from San Francisco, where I presented in a seminar on social media at the annual conference of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras. I was invited by seminar moderator Oliver Theil, public relations director at the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. My co-presenter was–and I still get goose bumps saying this–the venerable Beth Kanter.

Beth’s new book The Networked Nonprofit provided a framework for the presentation. I tried to provide concrete examples from my Orchestras and Social Media Survey and case studies from the field. I also touched on the orchestra “churn” study in connection to the book Flip the Funnel, which I have written about during the TAFTO month.

Below the embedded presentation follow some of the topics in more detail:

Classical music organizations and free agents

  • Beth’s book explains free agents as people who work outside the organization and are enthused by a cause rather than an institution. The job of the organization then becomes to make it “easy for outsiders to come in.” Marcia Adair’s #operaplot is the perfect example of an outsider, a free agent, coming up with a great idea and involving arts organizations in a way that is simple, effortless and risk-free. Read my interview with Marcia here.
  • Naturally, I briefly mentioned my very own free agent experiment #floodofsupport. There’s still time to get involved.

Integrated campaign around a viral video

  • Perhaps you’ve seen the video: a flashmob (or is it guerilla marketing) opera performance at a market in Valencia, Spain. The video received more than 4 million views. But that wasn’t it. The creative agency behind the video produced several complementing elements: a micro-site; Twitter, Facebook and other social networking profiles; and a print brochure. All for their client Palau de les Arts. The reason why people might not have known about that side of the effort, though, became painfully obvious when I contacted someone at the creative agency. He told me the powers that be at the Palau didn’t believe in the campaign and nixed it, including editing out any branding in the viral video. What a missed opportunity!

Saint Louis Symphony: cross-platform integration

  • The Saint Louis Symphony is an example of well-designed cross-platform integration of social media tools. Highlighting their connectedness on the front page with prominent links to Facebook and the orchestra’s blog. A page on the Web site lists all their social media efforts. Facebook or Twitter are not silos of interaction; social media tools work best across platforms and they work best when an organization’s Web site complements the tools, as well as offline complementing online.

Landing pages

  • Another page from Saint Louis Symphony’s book. They do a good job with a custom page on student efforts on their Facebook page. That led me to talk about landing pages and welcome tabs, items specifically designed to welcome new fans and call for a specific action. I saw a recent study where having a landing page/welcome tab on your Facebook page increases the “like” conversion from 23% to 47%. I have not yet seen an orchestra with a custom welcome tab.
  • Not to mention Twitter landing pages. Why not welcome people from Twitter to your site with a specific message to them? Moreover, if you set up a Twitter landing page on your site with a specific call to action that takes them through a specific path on your web site, you can measure conversion rates through Google Analytics with funnels. You can see where people dropped off, how many and where they went. Keep this in mind, not for just ticket sales, but for newsletter sign ups or other actionable items.

Measuring results

  • Due to time shortage, the only point I really wanted to make was that you should look at a social media effort as part of an integrated marketing communications effort, where communications result in behavior change and marketing is the financial value of this behavior. So if you’re measuring, you first have to know what this behavior change is. What are you looking to achieve in the next 5 to 10 years? Those sometimes 150-year-old mission statements can still be a guiding light. The principles don’t change much, the environment does, and that’s what is reflected in the last sentence of the New York Philharmonic’s mission statement, to bring classical music to the community “in any other manner now known or hereafter to be…” Read my series on Evaluating Social Media for Classical Music Organizations.

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