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Theodora Clarke, coach on Startup Weekend Art London, started with a blog 18 months ago. Her online magazine is now read by more than 60,000 people worldwide.

theodora

 

She has shared with us how to use social media to attract new audiences to the arts, from her own successful experience:

There is no denying the power of social media and how it can impact on cultural organisations from huge museums, like Tate or the National Gallery, through to small organisations such as my blog Russian Art and Culture. Our website publishes the best reviews, articles and news on Russian art, related exhibitions and interesting cultural events worldwide.

 

When I set up Russian Art and Culture in 2011 I never expected it to become a business.  The original project was a free blog that I built myself with no computer coding background and maintained at weekends whilst I was a student. It was through social media that I gradually built up a community of followers, and turned the blog into a website which now publishes a print magazine and organises a major art fair Russian Art Week.

Facebook and Twitter were fundamental to our success as they allowed the site to be found by academics, curators, researchers and members of the public with an interest in Russian art and culture who we would never have been able to reach by traditional means.

 

Social media acts as a direct link to our readership. Not only does it allow us to advertise the events that we promote, but readers can connect with us and interact by putting forward their events for us to promote. With the majority of our readership using one or more of these mobile platforms, we are able to reach people around the world and also provide a more approachable, human side to our organisation.

 

We live in a global community where people are now all connected through the internet. The conventional advantages of ‘word of mouth’ advertising are now amplified through social media. People trust the opinions of their peers, so a ‘Like’ on Facebook is a significant endorsement. We have seen that through social media a new ‘Like’ will also attract the attention of friends and allows awareness of our website and organisation to grow organically. Here are my top tips for effective social media use:

 

  • Social media posts shouldn’t be too text heavy, images and graphics attract attention a great deal more attention. For example tweeting images of works in your collection, Tate is a good example of this.
  • Engage as much as possible – keep it up to date and with plenty of information.
  • Modify your posts to the type of social media platform you are using; Facebook and Twitter are used in different ways.
  • Keep the quality of your posts to a high standard – don’t post absolutely everything.
  • Build up a community before you use social media for advertising.

 

Proactively using social media is a huge benefit, but it is also important to consider your search engine optimisation. Tagging website posts with appropriate key words will help your site to appear in Google search results. Using key words rather than numbers to label your images and key words for your website post titles will also contribute to Google search results. If you are publishing content from another website, such as our event listings, your website will appear fairly low on the list of Google search results, so it is important to post unique content.

 

Data capture tools are invaluable in order to monitor how your website and social media outlets are being used. We use the free email and marketing distributor MailChimp, which allows us to view statistics on the open rate and click rate of our emails and campaigns. Google Analytics is a free data capture tool which allows a better understanding of the demographics of our website visitors, and how they use the website. Through this tool we discovered that the most read pages on our website were our news page, job page, and article page. This enabled us to develop and improve these areas. We also check our visitors’ location, and the ratio of new and returning visitors. In November 2013 11% of visitors to Russian Art and Culture had been referred through social media, which attests to the importance of keeping our social media updated and relevant. Using these data capture tools has really impacted on how we direct our information.

 

It is wise for any cultural organisation, no matter the size, to invest in a strong media strategy in order to engage with readers and customers. Successfully taking advantage of these outlets will no doubt bring greater awareness and attention to your organisation. I would strongly recommend engaging as much as possible with social media, using data capture tools to monitor web traffic and modify accordingly, and considering your search engine optimisation.

Elise Korolev