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Becoming a social arts organisation

Ahead of next month’s CultureHive briefing on the topic, Rachel Coldicutt of creative agency Caper introduces the concept of the social organisation and asks how arts organisations can move towards being truly social.

The Social Organisation

In their Quarterly Digital Briefing on Social Data (2011), Econsultancy created a four-stage model to help businesses become social organisations, showing how social media activity might grow from being ad hoc marketing to permeating the entire business. What would a social arts organisation look like, and to how would it behave?

The following table outlines Econsultancy’s Social Organisation model:

Social as a tool Social as a channel Social as a platform Social organisation
Main objective Listen and reach – achieve a critical mass of audience Participate and publicise – broadcast standard marketing via social media channels Engage and capture – understand sentiment, measure engagement and drive purchase intent Build and propagate – unveil patterns among interactions, deepen relationships
Systems and processes No guidelines or policy No consistent standards for engagement and facilitating interaction Policy and guidelines formulated, dedicated roles. Social media performance dashboards Fully integrated tools and systems, social media strategy in line with business objectives
Leadership and culture Decentralised / distributed, experimental phase. No dedicated resources ‘Pockets’ of social media activity within departments, no department manages or co-ordinates efforts One department controls all efforts; hierarchical structure Cross-functional social media teams, collaborative culture. Co-ordinated use of data/findings
Customer experience Directly addressing comments, reactive, often taken by surprise Basic customer service via social channels, focus on sales Social data in CRM. Social used as a lead generation and service channel Seamless customer experience across all touch points. Loyal communities
Measurement No measurement Measuring direct ROI of social Measuring total ROI of social Use social to measure ROI of social and non-social channels
Use of insight Basic listening, focus on reach/volume of brand mentions Identifying influencers / advocates / detractors Product and services development, cultivating relationships with influencers, building advocacy Listening integrated with internal processes for change.

It is worth noting that this was developed for the corporate sector, so the scale of return and investment is sizeable: 22% of the US companies surveyed worked for clients earning more than $1bn, and in Europe 46% for companies with revenues of more than £50m. In many instances, the people creating the integrated social dashboards were agencies, not lone marketing managers looking after physical and digital. While this scale of activity might seem unachievable at first glance, the underlying model can help arts organisations to integrate social thinking and practice into their organisational strategy and development.

Being Social

Many arts and cultural organisations were “social” before digital communication was invented. The reason it’s so difficult to see the stage in a horseshoe theatre is because, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the main attraction was seeing – and being seen by – other members of the audience. Likewise, anyone who has spent an afternoon in the British Library will know that social dynamics are at play even in the quietest corner of the Reading Room. So how does the online experience differ?

The first difference is that organisations use social media to drive audience reach and engagement. Few social strategies serve a core audience; they aim to widen appeal and understanding, sell tickets and raise awareness. In this context, the meaning of ‘social’ is radically changed: no matter how popular a destination your organisation is, it is no longer the venue for the conversation. Instead, it’s part of a much wider conversation – and understanding how your content appears and functions in this wider milieu is an important first step to developing the confidence to behave as a genuinely social organisation.

To read on, download the full paper on the Social Organisation from CultureHive.

Rachel Coldicutt will join Andrew Campbell to explore how these concepts impact on the cultural sector in London on 8 October 2013. Book your place at the high-level CultureHive Briefing now.

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