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Keys, doors, questions #AMAconf

Ailie Crerar, from the Centre for Contemporary Arts, writes about her experience at this year’s AMA conference. She was able to attend thanks to a bursary from Creative Scotland.

I had not long started at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts when I applied for one of Creative Scotland’s bursaries to attend the 2016 AMA conference – and it was an absolute delight to be successful, and my sincerest thanks go to Creative Scotland for their support. I had missed out on the conference the previous year, so this year I was absolutely raring to go and bring back what I’d learnt to my new position.

Taking place over two and a half days, the conference was absolutely jam-packed with thought-provoking speakers, invigorating workshops, and networking opportunities – here are just a few of my highlights:

When was the last time someone told you that you don’t matter?

Absolute top was Nina Simon’s keynote, during which she asked the delegation the question above, which stuck with me throughout the rest of the conference and all the way back to Glasgow. How can we demonstrate to audiences that they matter to us, through making our activities more accessible? If we’re truly on a mission to matter, this attitude should be central to our thinking, an idea that was repeated in a later keynote by Donna Walker-Kuhne. Nina used ideas of doors and keys to illustrate her point: as arts organisations, we need to be creating doors into our organisations, and we need to be giving audiences the keys to open them. Relevance is that key. And when we market our activities, we must make sure that we’re not simply “painting a door on what is, in fact, a hard solid wall” but that the activities we’re marketing are truly relevant to the people we’re trying to reach.

I Hear You

One of my other highlights was Cara Sutherland’s session on her work at the Mental Health Museum. The museum is based on the site of a large mental health hospital in Yorkshire. As a result, a lot of the visitors are service users and health care professionals. When Cara started, the future of the museum was not clear but under her leadership, in actively engaging people in building the museum’s exhibitions, encouraging them to tell their stories, and listening at all times, the museum has become an integral part of the care offered at the site. It was an incredibly eye-opening session.

Accessibility – Making Your Communications Matter

This session with Jo Verrent from Unlimited and Jen Tomkins from Artsadmin was fantastic for the practical tips it gave, starting with – we all know what really inaccessible marketing looks like, so don’t do that! The session took as its overall message the idea of making the majority of your marketing as accessible as possible, and work from there. Budgets and time constraints often mean we won’t be able to do everything; but there are a few small practical things to do on top of what you might be doing already to make your services even better – for me, this was things like alt-tagging images (so they’re described by screen readers), and looking into video captioning. You can download the Guide to Accessible Marketing on CultureHive.

A Vision of Inclusivity

Donna Walker-Kuhne’s keynote was another inspiring session about the importance of your entire organisation engaging with diversity, and making sure commitment to diversity is integrated into our everyday working lives. She challenged us to think about questions such as, ‘Who are we leaving out?’, not just in our marketing activities but across our organisations, and to be open in our discussions about cultural diversity.

It was with all these questions, provocations, and ideas that I came buzzing back to Glasgow. And the experience of the conference didn’t just end on Thursday 14 July; I met many other arts marketers in Edinburgh who are working across the UK – with some even based in the Centre for Contemporary Arts – and I’m looking forward to continuing to share ideas and knowledge as we all go on in our careers.

Image: Ailie Crerar, photo credit: Andy Catlin

Small but perfectly focused #AMAconf

Jackie Crichton

Jackie Crichton, from Playwrights’ Studio, received a Creative Scotland bursary to attend AMA conference 2016 – here she shares her thoughts.

For me, the AMA conference included a plethora of new experiences. It was my first AMA conference. The first conference that I’ve attended as a delegate. And, it was the first time that I’ve dedicated more than one full day purely to marketing.

This must sound ridiculous to AMA members who live and breathe marketing day in, day out. I usually describe my Administration and Communications Co-ordinator role as being one third administration, one third project management and one third marketing and communications. This makes it nearly impossible for me to have a full two-day period where marketing is my primary focus.

The AMA conference was brilliant for that. It carved out the time from my week to think solely about marketing. To be energised by great campaigns like #ThisGirlCan in one session and to gain functional knowledge about accessible print in the next. This illustrates my take home learning from the conference: a duologue between inspiration and practical skills.

If I were going to pick a favourite session it would be the Pecha Kucha-style breakout session – Organisations that are on a mission to matter. The conference was excellent for opportunities to concentrate – to think strategically and deeply. This session was the perfect antidote to that. It comprised of inspiring, fast paced presentations from a range of exciting organisations including the Jewish Museum London, Liverpool Philharmonic and National Museums Scotland. The snapshot, pictorial structure seems designed for attention spans that are too used to Twitter feeds: it suited me perfectly.

The Google Analytics seminar was the session that contributed the most to my ‘to do list’ (in a good way). Mary Butlin from Tonica Insight was clearly an Analytics ninja. The structure of her presentation made a techy subject into a highly relevant marketing tool. She also shared her slides on Twitter afterwards, meaning that I can refer back to her eight top tips in times of Google Analytics confusion.

And then there were the people. I’d heard ahead of time about how I would meet everyone at the AMA. Which is an intimidating prospect. I did meet a lot of people and I spoke about plays and playwrights to anyone who would listen. In return, I learnt about some amazing organisations and projects. My favourite was almost certainly chatting about Mahogany Opera Group’s Lost In Thought (the world’s first mindfulness opera) over a lunch break.

The opportunity to meet people whose work echoes my own was really valuable. Peer-to-peer knowledge exchange feels like the cheapest and most worthwhile training course. For the price of a Brew Lab coffee, you can learn from someone else’s mistakes and successes; and, of course, contribute your own stories of woe and triumph. I’m embarrassed to say that it took a national arts marketing conference to properly meet an arts marketer who works on the floor below mine. Needless to say, we’ll be grabbing a coffee soon!

This Girl Can #AMAconf

Natalie Watson, Marketing and Development Manager at The Spring Arts Centre, was a recipient of an AMA bursary for this year’s AMA conference – On a Mission to Matter. Here she explains what inspired her the most while she was there.

After starting working for The Spring Arts & Heritage Centre only 2 months before the AMA Conference, and having never been to any kind of work conference before, the thought of travelling up to the other end of the country to attend a conference by myself was a slightly daunting prospect to say the least! Luckily, I can now say, how wrong I was!

The AMA Conference 2016 was a fantastic opportunity, and one that I would definitely recommend to others. It was a jam-packed (if shattering!) few days, where I met so many like-minded people from a wide variety of organisations, heard some inspiring speakers, and of course, made the most of being in the fantastic city of Edinburgh.

I arrived on the Tuesday evening in time for the opening dinner at Dynamic Earth. As I was an AMA conference first-timer, I took up the invitation of attending drinks with fellow newcomers before heading over to the venue. I think this was a lovely idea and a great way to meet some other delegates informally, as well as meaning I didn’t have to turn up to the dinner alone! Dynamic Earth was a fantastic venue, particularly the drinks reception areas. I thought the ‘sticker game’ was a great way to get people networking initially, as one of the things I find hardest about networking is thinking of ways to start a conversation without sounding either like I am interviewing them or starting to reel off my CV.

The opening keynote on Wednesday morning by Nina Simon was a perfect choice to get us motivated for the days ahead, and her notion of insiders and outsiders, and whether potential audiences have the ‘key’ to enter the ‘room’ of our organisations was particularly relevant and has really stuck in my head. Thursday morning’s keynote by Donna Walker-Kuhne from New Jersey Performing Arts Centre was also particularly inspiring for me, in her point that diversity is something all arts organisations must commit to, and the different methods and ideas that she implemented to engage and create diverse communities.

The most inspiring breakout session for me was by Kate Dale who spoke about Sport England’s #ThisGirlCan initiative. I took away a number of lessons about how the campaign was planned and implemented, and what I particularly learnt was the importance of going to the people you are trying to reach and joining in their conversations, making yourself relevant to them. On another level, the reason that I have chosen this session as a highlight is for the way that the message delivered in the #ThisGirlCan campaign resonated with me. The phenomenal success that the campaign has had so far in inspiring women to do something that they never thought they could do showed how the right type of marketing can create something fantastic and make your work truly matter. For me personally, it also made me realise that I can achieve things that I might not have thought possible, both professionally (in my first role in marketing management and attending my first conference alone), and personally too – including inspiring a walk up to Arthur’s Seat straight after the session!

Two is better than one #DMA

Two owls

Digital Marketing Academy (DMA) Mentor, Sara Devine, gives her thoughts on the first part of DMA 3.0.

As Mentors, we have the option of working with multiple people. Last year, as a newbie Mentor for DMA, I was only comfortable committing to working with one Fellow. After all, I’m not a marketer myself, so I wasn’t sure how much I help I could/would be. I learned so much working with Alison Parry at the Henry Moore Foundation during DMA 2.0 that this year, I felt ready for two; and what a great decision it was!

I must admit, I was a bit worried about the extra time commitment of having two Fellows. I wanted to be sure to give them whatever attention they needed. I’m happy to say that I’ve found working with two Fellows to be quite manageable. Sure, it’s two Google hangouts instead of one and two email chains instead of one, but what has surprised me is that this additional time and effort is helping me be a better Mentor (at least, it feels that way – I hope they’ll tell me if I’m wrong!). This time, I have the pleasure of working with Alison Hilton and Sam Murray-Sutton, who are both delightful. Each of them has slightly different challenges and different goals for their time at the DMA, but there is a lot of overlap too. I’ve found that the brainstorming sessions and big picture thinking conversations I have with one Fellow can help with another and vice versa. I am, of course, transparent about this with them.

I think the main reason it’s so helpful to have two Fellows is that it provides me with an excuse to set aside more time to think about the issues we all face trying to reach audiences and trying new things. I don’t set aside time in my own day for creativity, to let my mind wander or to think about big picture issues, and working with the DMA gives me a chance to do this. There is a good deal of information out there about importance of making space for creativity, and even boredom, and some thought leaders advocate for this. Rainy Tisdale and Linda Norris  advise scheduling time in the day to allow your mind to wander as part of a creative practice. Genevieve Bell touts the advantages of boredom in her TedTalk. I’ve even blogged about it myself as part of DMA 2.0, reflecting on my experience at Museum Camp last summer which was all about space making, co-lead by the amazing leaders Nina Simon and Beck Tench. Of course, despite my best intentions to make space for this, it’s fallen to the wayside as I got busier and busier. So even though I might be ruminating over a challenge one of the Fellows is facing, I inevitably think about solutions I’ve seen or things I’ve learned from other colleagues that are applicable to my own work as well as that of the Fellows. Additionally, I find that when I’m in the position of offering advice, I’m reminded to take it, not only from others, but from myself as well. For all of these reasons, I’m finding two Fellows are better than one.

Image: National Geographic

3 challenges with Snapchat (beyond which direction to swipe!) #DMA

Devon Smith, one of our Digital Marketing Academy Mentors, explains how her Fellows at The Point and The Berry Theatre in Eastleigh, are experimenting with Snapchat.

Every project faces unexpected challenges. One benefit of the Digital Marketing Academy is having a cohort of colleagues and mentors to bounce ideas off of for potential solutions. The Point Eastleigh is experimenting with Snapchat during their time with the academy. These are three challenges they realized during the experiment and how we collaborated to find new solutions.

Challenge 1: How do we get followers?

Even though more people use Snapchat each day than Twitter (150 million!), the platform doesn’t make it easy for your account to be found by other users, particularly when you are a brand or organization. There are 5 ways to search for users on Snapchat – (1) know their username (pointeastleigh!), (2) have their phone number in your mobile’s address book (not realistic for a brand), (3) add by snapcode (but how do people find your snapcode?!), (4) add “nearby” users (a staff member would need to have snapchat constantly running on their phone at your organization’s venue, which isn’t feasible), and (5) visit a URL on your phone (https://snapchat.com/add/pointeastleigh). Unfortunately, there’s no way to find all of your Twitter or Facebook followers on Snapchat, nor any way to find users by email address, as in other social networks.

So The Point got creative. They changed their Twitter profile picture to their snapcode and posted about their new experiment on Instagram, knowing that both of those networks were likely to have younger audiences who were also on Snapchat. They also posted physical signage of their snapcode at a large festival they were hosting. They were hoping to purchase a geofilter from Snapchat (the only advertising possible for brands currently), but unfortunately that option wasn’t available in Eastleigh yet. Up next will be adding the Snapchat icon to their season brochure and website.

Challenge 2: What do we measure?

Snapchat doesn’t tell you how many people watched your snaps (though you can see how many, and who, watch your snapstories), your snapscore is mostly based on how many snaps you send, and the only way to know how many friends you have is to scroll down the list and count them. But during the Eastleigh Unwrapped festival where The Point was experimenting with Snapchat, the team discovered two new opportunities for qualitative measurement: talking to the people they noticed using Snapchat at the festival, and the snaps and chats they received from other users at the festival welcoming them to the network or sharing their thoughts about the performances.

Up next, The Point is considering how to get more people to send them snaps while they’re at a performance and how best to use this informal audience research.

Challenge Three: How do we stay active?

Snapchat is an addictive network (to some), meant to be checked daily or even more often for the latest stories and snaps and chats (oh my!). But when you’re also juggling Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, not to mention ticket sales and event promotions and donation campaigns, it can be hard to find the time to open the app and share an interesting snap. Once The Point marketing team began experimenting with Snapchat, they realized a few staffers were already passionate Snappers – they just happened to be in other departments, from resident artists to behind-the-scenes technicians.

This turned out to be a fortuitous collaboration – artists and technicians had access to the most interesting bits of daily activity around The Point, they were already familiar with the social network and in the habit of using it often, and this offered a new bridge between the marketing and artistic departments. Up next for the team is offering students taking dance or theatre classes at The Point “takeover” opportunities for their Snapchat account.

Snapchat is a great social network to experiment with because any “proof” of your “mistakes” disappears quickly. It’s low pressure with lots of opportunity to explore, iterate, and experiment. If you’re interested in Snapchat, but still feel overwhelmed, the Snapchat support website includes loads more tips on how to use the network. Good luck!

Image: from The Point’s Snapchat

Keep it small scale and simple #DMA

Hannah Barnes, from November Club, and a current Digital Marketing Academy Fellow, explains her initial learning from her time so far on the programme. 

Well, this is my first blog post and I am sitting here writing it on the night before the deadline, so I am going to keep this short and simple; treat it as a useful process of getting thoughts down on paper.

I suppose these two aims fit quite nicely with my overall learning from this project so far.

Keep it small scale and simple

Only a few minutes into my first Action Learning Set session, and meeting with my Mentor, I realised that my original project proposal was trying to do everything I’d like to achieve for the company over the course of a couple of years.  There are a lot of things I’d love to be able to do. And thinking about them was also starting to keep me up at night, considering I also only work two days a week.

I am happy to say that my experiment has changed.

It is now small scale and simple, but I think it will be useful.

With the help of my Mentor, Katie Moffat, we’ve broken it down into bite size stages (another great learning point) so it feels quite manageable.

The project explores different ways of building the company’s email database. As a small-scale, site-specific theatre company (with a currently pretty small mailing list) operating outside of a venue, across large geographical areas, and with an often quite varied timetable of productions, this is a clear area for development. My post is relatively new to the company and we need to build our core audience with whom we can communicate at low cost and relatively low staff input, on a regular basis.

Instead of trying to achieve all sorts of ambitious engagement with different audiences on social media platforms (and essentially jumping a few years ahead), I am simply trying out different ways of inviting people to join our lists. This will include online and offline promotions and opportunities using the projects we are presenting over the summer as the platforms.

The process is as important as the product…

I have also learnt it’s the doing  – the getting the notes and thoughts down, just as I’m writing now – and the trying and testing and measuring (which start next weekend with my experiments) which are both as important as how many email addresses we get. Or, for that matter, how interesting or informative the published version of this blog is 😉

Instead of worrying about not achieving ‘enough’ through these experiments, I am genuinely looking forward to finding out which ideas might work or not work, and hopefully a bit of why that might be as this is the information that will help us achieve our longer term objectives.

These two realisations seem very obvious; as arts marketers, we do need to break things down, and we do need to think about the learning from each experience of delivering a project. However, it’s very easy in the midst of endlessly busy days in the office, getting through ‘to do lists’, to forget these simple, yet valuable concepts.

So, thank you Digital Marketing Academy. So far, so good…

Festival set up and completed in 2 months #DMA

Jo Bartlett from Camberley Theatre, and a current Digital Marketing Academy Fellow, shares how working in an agile way and learning from the Academy helped her get a new festival up and running in very little time.

In my role as Marketing Manager for Camberley Theatre – a 400 capacity venue in Surrey Heath, I decided to start a 10 day annual festival of the arts. Using concerts already booked in at the theatre and adding free fringe elements around the pubs and cafes of Camberley, I branded these events as the #CamberleyInternationalFestival, which ran from 1 – 11 June. The desired effect of this new festival is to reach new audience members and to promote Camberley as a destination of choice.

Allocated with a very small budget and from initial idea to actual happening being incredibly fast (from mid-March as an idea to launch on 4 April), digital platforms were essential to market the event.

A WordPress blog site was set up and the url www.camberley-international-festival.com was purchased for the princely sum of £15.

A short YouTube promo film detailing the festival highlights was launched via the theatre’s social media platforms and sent to local online magazines. The sharing of this film was encouraged by a ticket giveaway competition on Facebook, resulting in 146 shares and a reach of 8,517.

Looking at the WordPress analytics each day gave a good idea as to which of the social media posts was working and if word of mouth was also starting to have an effect.

Attractive jpegs for online use for each event were design by the theatre’s in house team, with less detailed versions being used for Facebook boosts.

Image for Camberley International FestivalImage for Camberley International Festival

As the festival got underway, concerts and performances were videoed on phones and cameras and edited into little films each morning, with audience members and performers asked to share.

On Saturday 4 June a full programme of free events took place at various venues through the day with a performance from the Vienna Festival Ballet at the theatre in the evening. With little budget, I was able to employ one cameraman for most of the day, with myself and my assistant capturing as much as we possibly could on our phones. We both Tweeted, sent Facebook posts and Instagram images including little live clips from noon until midnight! There was also a Facebook live stream of an acoustic street performance with 500 viewers.

Since the festival’s completion I have been gathering stats and films for a report and thinking of ideas to keep this experiment moving forward. Joining the Digital Marketing Academy has inspired me to keep the festival going, using the #CIFlive name and promoting small events throughout the year.  The theatre can host live performances to be streamed on the Facebook page with Q&As with artists taking place digitally before and after performances. I will also add Google Analytics to the WordPress site to gain a deeper knowledge of who visits the site, all preparing me for a bigger and better year two of the Camberley International Festival in 2017.

Top Image: Sophie and the Giants at The Carpenters Arms as part of the Camberley International Festival, 4 June 2016

5 highlights that hit home #AMAconf

Siân Bateman, from London Sinfonietta, received a PatronBase bursary to attend this year’s AMA conference – On a Mission to Matter. Here she tells us about her experience…

This year I joined AMA on their Mission to Matter at the 2016 AMA conference in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. My greatest thanks goes to audience builder PatronBase, who through a full bursary allowed me to attend this conference for the very first time.

The whole three days were packed full of fascinating conversations, inspiring keynotes, mind-bending breakout sessions, captivating tours and wine-filled socials. I had the invaluable opportunity to meet so many different people within the arts sector and really re-address my thinking as an early-career arts marketer. I could write pages about everything I experienced, discovered and learnt but seeing as I now need the time to put all of these things into practice, I’ll keep it short! I’ve chosen five of my highlights from the conference, the things that really hit home, the things I’m still thinking about:

On a Mission to Matter Keynote by Nina Simon
What a keynote to kick off the conference. What did I learn? I learnt about doors. I learnt that we must create a door for our audience to walk through, inviting them in but also being truly representative of what our organisation provides for them. The idea that resonated with me long after this keynote: “we must not market something by painting a door on what is, in fact, a hard, solid wall.” I hope to take Nina’s message along with me as I progress my career and endeavour to “build bigger rooms for our work to live in, for our work to matter, together.”

What we can learn from #ThisGirlCan? Breakout session by Kate Dale
Before attending this session, I questioned what marketing for sport and the arts had in common. I was completely wrong to do so. The level of effort and dedication to produce a unique, interactive audience experience mirrored the arts’ commitment to audience development. I think the enormity of research undertaken in order to be relevant to a huge proportion of girls and women is what struck me about this campaign. It made me hope that one day I will also be part of a campaign that achieves this level of success, by mattering to every individual it touches. #ThisGirlCan

A Vision of Inclusivity Keynote by Donna Walker-Kuhne
As someone fairly new to a career in arts marketing, it is more than apparent that diversity in this day and age is the key to strength. I believe we can all be guilty of losing motivation or just not knowing how to make this happen – there are no fast results. Donne Walker-Kuhne’s keynote on Thursday morning reinvigorated and reassured me that inclusivity is “a long-term effort that requires commitment, dedication and a passion for the arts in the community”. With this in mind, we can integrate diversity into our everyday lives instead of making short-term efforts that feel feeble in comparison; “It is not a gesture, it’s a major investment.”

Accessibility – Making your communications matter Breakout session by Jo Verrent and Jen Tomkins
This breakout session was the real eye-opener for me. As an individual who does not have a disability, it is so easy to forget that the jazzy piece of print I’ve spent hours designing is just simply not accessible to someone who wants to be a part of my organisation’s audience. This session was full of practical and insightful tips that have really empowered me to start applying them in my everyday work. Necessities such as captioning videos and alt-tagging images take a small amount of time to complete but can indispensably matter to our audiences.

Edinburgh
As well as my first AMA conference, this was my first time visiting Edinburgh. And wow. My colleague and I took full advantage of the organised tours provided by Mercat and delved into the Historic Underground of the city as well as discovering the Secrets of the Royal Mile. A city so full of culture, history and beauty provided a perfect setting for this year’s conference and I’m so pleased I got to experience these things for the first time hand in hand. For anyone who hasn’t visited Edinburgh, GO, NOW! You will not regret it.

Image: What can we learn from #ThisGirlCan? breakout session, AMA Conference 2016.

Testing 1, 2, 3 #DMA

Business Objective framework

Karen Palmer and Duncan Smith from Bristol Old Vic are Joint Fellows at the Digital Marketing Academy.

We are embarking on a quest to become more strategic with Bristol Old Vic’s digital marketing channels with the help of the Digital Marketing Academy. This quest comes at a time of huge change in our organisation; we’ve just celebrated our 250th anniversary (some of us are still recovering from the hangover); the second phase of our major capital redevelopment building work has commenced; we’re commencing a detailed audience insight project; designing a new website and preparing for a brand development. That’s a lot.

So with all this going on, prioritising testing and evaluating our digital channels has become a bit of a challenge.

Bristol Old Vic benefits from a healthy following across all of our digital channels. We have 46,000 followers on Twitter, 50,000 eNewsletter subscribers, 25,000 followers on Facebook and 230 followers on Instagram (some work to do there). So however busy we are, and everyone who works in the arts inevitably is, it is imperative that we take the steps required to understand and measure the effectiveness of our activity.

But where to start? What should we measure? How do these channels meet our overall marketing objectives?

Luckily, after speaking with our guru marketing Mentor Daniel ‘Rad’ Rowles, he gifted us with some very welcome clarity. We don’t need to test everything all at once. What we need is a strategic framework to apply to our digital channels to allow us to evaluate them.

“Strategic framework, sounds great!” we said. We took a look at the example framework Daniel sent us via Target Internet. “Venn diagrams, flow charts, digital traffic source indicators…we want those!” we exclaimed.

So our first challenge was to do a digital audit of our channels, define our broader marketing objective we wanted to achieve and set out measurement indicators for each channel so we can track effectiveness.

Our next step… pick a channel and let’s get testing 1,2,3!

How often have you replicated an email template for a new eMarketing campaign? Did you come up with that fresh subject line or is it the same as last month’s e-news? Are you recycling that clever call to action in your copy which you spent 30 minutes crafting on a previous eMarketing adventure? And, are you replicating this content because you know it works, because you like it or you don’t have time?

I’d be the first to admit to heinous marketing crimes of replication in Bristol Old Vic’s email campaigns. But what makes these duplications or use of templates shameful isn’t the recycling of content – audiences do like familiarity – it’s the fact that we haven’t tested them strategically.

So it’s time for a Bristol Old Vic eNewsletter make over!

We’re going to move to a new eMarketing system called DotMailer which is integrated with our brilliant box office system Spektrix. While we do this, we plan to review our house style layout and test different elements (i.e. subject line, copy or design led) against set out indicators to see if we can improve our eNewsletter communications.

We hope this will give us a better understanding of what kind of content our audience engage with and a better understanding of effective eNewsletter communications!

Stay tuned and test!

Image: Targetinternet.com

Find me a new platform and make it snappy! #DMA

Sam Johnson, Digital Officer at Pilot Theatre, explains how his Digital Marketing Academy experiment, with Joint Fellow Lucy Hammond, will focus on Snapchat.

Many people within the theatre sector recognise Pilot as a company that utilises and tests digital technologies in the development and presentation of our work. It has been at the forefront of our work for many years and has included projection, multi-camera interactive streams, and remote headphone technology on promenade performances amongst other pilot projects.

We want our marketing to reflect this approach as well.

Specifically, our output on social media should be creative, reaching our audiences in fun and interesting ways. We often have ideas for new digital content and would like to experiment with some of our more unusual ideas, particularly involving newer social media.

Our current digital marketing strategy is tailored to our company’s focus towards young people, yet we have still not managed to fully target these audiences effectively through our current online actions. We have a relatively large following on Twitter and Facebook but we know that younger audiences are not engaging on those platforms. The platform that they are increasingly using is Snapchat.

Ephemeral, temporary, and hugely popular. A recent study from Vodafone found that Snapchat accounts for 75% of mobile messenger data in the UK, with another study finding that 70% of its users are under 34 and 45% of them in the 18-24 age group. This is where we should be, so this is where we’ll be focusing. It’s good fun too.

At a time when a lot of our online behaviour is tracked, archived, and visible to people we don’t necessarily want or know are viewing it, the arrival of Snapchat and it’s selective, short, and temporary sharing model is appealing. It’s also a great opportunity for creativity.

The ability to draw over a picture or video you’ve taken, the range of filters, and time manipulation open it up to much more than taking photos of a kettle to ask housemates if they want a cup of tea.

Its format has prompted creative projects, with users now identifying themselves as Snapchat Filmmakers, artists and influencers. Examples of this include the Snapchat film Sick House, the Tribeca Snapchat Shorts competition, and specific users like Geeohsnap, Harris Markowitz, PouyaS, Cakes1toDough1, and Georgio.Copter, an illustrator who now runs school workshops on how to illustrate your snaps.

Meeting with our Mentor, Katie Moffat, helped us clarify some of our aims and identify some of the barriers. We view our experiment as a learning opportunity, not a means of generating a huge following or ticket sales. We see it as an opportunity to share a sense of our company, the work we do, the people that work within it, and some interesting explorations of how you can tell narratives through this platform.

So, where do we go from here? Katie suggested that we invite a group of users to a session with us so that we can find out how they use Snapchat and what (if anything) would interest them in following a company like Pilot.

From there we can get a greater understanding of what people enjoy, and what is possible on the platform. We’ve already begun some small tests in Youth Theatre workshops and hope to expand on this, and update you all in future posts.

You can follow us on Snapchat at pilottheatre, sam_5446, and luluhamham. Send us a welcome snap when you do!

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