In my post on using new media for promotion, I said something that might sound provocative. I said that some people at big institutions may not understand that before they can jump into social media, “they have to
understand how to use them, and make them part of a larger strategy.”
And, even more, that
…they’ll never learn about social media and never
understand a larger strategy unless they jump in first! The changes
social media have brought are so radical, that an understanding of those
changes ought to change — maybe drastically change — your
institutional strategy. So jump in now, preferably under the guidance of
someone in their 20s. And see where it leads you.
That might seem extreme, or improbable. So let me give an example of how it works out in practice. Suppose I think I — or my institution — should take advantage of everything that social media can offer. Suppose then I start learning just what that is, and find out that social media are bound up with audience participation. That is, social media will work best — and I’ll get the most response when I use them — if I give my Facebook fans and Twitter followers and website visitors something to be part of, something to join, a way to be heard, a way to make music on my website, a way to be seen on my website, a way to influence the things my institution does.
This might be radically new. I might not have thought much about doing these things in any way, using old media or new. In fact, if I’m like most large classical music institutions I know, I probably don’t do these things much at all.
But now, by using social media (or, very likely, by finding someone in their 20s to use social media for me), I’ve learned that people — and especially younger people, but not only them — respond tremendously when they’re given a chance to participate. I might not have known that. I wasn’t focused on it, hadn’t thought about it. It hadn’t come up in the rest of my work, and certainly not in my institution’s strategic planning.
But now I’ve learned that it’s possible. So now, if I’m smart, I’ll rethink my programming and my strategic plan. Here’s something I never knew my institution could do. And it strikes me, all at once, that I’d like to do more of it. Which then makes me ask myself: Does my programming encourage participation? If it doesn’t, should it change? How much should it change? What can the changes be?
And likewise the strategic plan. I want to grow, let’s say. I want to attract a new audience. But I never knew that participation would help me do that. So I have to revise the plan, to emphasize participation.
Or take that further. Maybe I hadn’t focused on any new audience, because I didn’t quite know how to find one, and it seemed — many large classical music institutions, I think,have been in this place — more cost-effective to get people already in my core audience to buy tickets more often.
But now I’ve learned that participation could build a new audience! So I revise my plan. Now it includes a search for a new audience, because now I know how to find one.
And so there it is — one way that jumping into social media, without knowing at first what the result will be (and without feeling I need to strategize about that), might turn my perceptions upside down, and teach me to adopt a new strategy.
(This, too, is a “Solutions” post.)