Orchestras, Musicians, The Concert Experience, and Social Media | Beth’s Blog

Orchestras, Musicians, The Concert Experience, and Social Media

Organizational Culture, Social Media Policy

I’ve been at the League of American Orchestras Conference.  Yesterday, I had the pleasure of co-facilitating a half-day “Digital Strategies” seminar with Vince Ford, Director of Digital Media from the New York Philharmonic and leading a peer session for major orchestra marketing staff and youth orchestra executive directors with Makala Johnson who does Social Media for the Mayo Clinic.

This posts shares a few insights.

I always use sticky notes or index cards to get people to ask questions before, during, and after a workshop.  It gives me feedback on the content, plus it help me generate content.   The question above came up and I posted it on my Facebook page to generate more insights.

How do we motivate musicians to create content?

The question came up in the context of discussing “We don’t have anytime to do social media.”   How can you get others in your organization to participate and contribute content, including musicians?   This can be sensitive issue for some orchestras at particular times.   Also, it requires adding the words “social media” to any professional conduct language or a social media policy.

Some orchestras have been successful doing this by working with musicians who serve on the orchestra’s marketing committee and already understand or use social media personally.

Here’s some of the advice that came through Facebook:

It takes a while to motivate the musicians, because they are busy people and often on the road away from internet. They don’t often see what you are doing in social media and therefore can feel apart from it. To encourage them to use their valuable free time to create content you have to first demonstrate that it’s worth doing. Something that worked for me in raising awareness is to send a weekly email digest of responses from across all our social networks, to show the level of interest and engagement out there. Also, don’t expect everyone to want to be involved. Spend time finding the right musicians for the job. – Jo Johnson  (London Symphony)

They have to understand the value to them personally to do so, and also not feel they are being taken advantage of. What do they get out of it? How will you insure them that you will not abuse them? – Rebecca Krause-Hardie

Determine the content they can provide. Outline it. They may respond well to photos that show their personal side, while engaging fans in silly banter because that’s their personality or videos of performance. -  Charlene Burke

How do you “police” your employees use of social media?

The above question was posed to Makala Johnson from the Mayo Clinic after she shared some insights about this large nonprofit institution with over 50,000 employees encourages all employees to participate.    Her response:  “We don’t have time for that.”   The follow up question was, “Was there ever a time when employees used social media “unprofessionally” or caused a problem?”

Makala paused for a minute or two and answered,  “No.”

The reason is that they have a good policy in place that talks lays out a philosophy and operationalizes effective social media practice.  Makala also noted that her job is about consulting and training people in the organization to use social media effectively.   Their approach to staffing — they’ve found that it works best for adoption to have social media tasks integrated into job descriptions.

User Experience Integration

Vince Ford offered a framework for creating a digital strategy (social media is one channel in that mix that falls under engagement.)      During the seminar, he offers lots of nuggets of wisdom and learnings from the New York Philharmonic’s experience.   We were also lucky to have Margo Drakos from Instant Encore who shared some amazing insights about integrating mobile and live streaming into the experience.

Vince’s “User Experience” cycle is a useful framework to brainstorm when and where to integrate digital tools, including social media.    Asking the question, “Where does social media add value?” in the different points in the experience.   Vince noted that their concert-goers are most open to engagement right after the performance – with email open rates soaring to 80%.    I pointed to the Jo Johnson and the London Symphony’s Facebook page as an excellent example of engaging audiences before and after concerts.

Integrating Social Media: Before, During, and After The Concert Experience

I shared this video from Jason Hodges about how their clever approach to reminding patrons to turn off their cell phones at the start of a concert, but still generate some engagement on their social media channels.  This prompted some debate as to whether or not patrons will really turn off their cell phones to avoid disrupting the sacred concert experience.

It is a challenge for many orchestras.     Is “live tweeting” during a concert in the formal concert hall the best way to integrate social into the concert experience?  Some venues have a strict rules about this, not matter how much it annoys some patrons. ((hat tip Marc Van Bree)  The midway ground is to experiment in less formal concert venues, like outdoor concerts, non-concert events, designate “social media moments,” or have a sign or kiosk in the lobby to get feedback.     The Smithsonian Museum does this as part of getting patron feedback on exhibits.

Orchestras face significant challenges these days – attracting younger people to classical music concerts, affordable ticket prices, and the disruption caused by social and mobile media.   This is fertile ground for experiments and learning best practices.

Decks and Links here


8 Responses

  1. Makala Johnson says:

    At least in the year or so that I’ve been working there, no situation comes to mind where we had to reprimand an employee for posting something inappropriate. Again, I think education is key. My view is that most people want to do what’s right, meaning most problems happen when the guidelines are ambiguous or not sufficiently ingrained in the employees’ minds.

  2. Crystal says:

    I love how “musicians on the marketing committee” is casually mentioned . . . I have never heard of this! Is this common? GREAT idea.

  3. Al Pittampalli says:

    Smart idea, using cell phone silencing to create engagement online. It’s a simple movement that has a lot of potential to spread online. Good post, Beth.

  4. Wow, great post. As a social media manager who wants to work with classical musicians, it was great to read what you are teaching. I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to get musicians to generate content, and you have given me some good ideas. Thank you!

  5. Beth Kanter says:

    Thanks Rachel. What organization do you work with? Would love to see what you do! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Beth,
    Thank you for your interest! I’m actually not with an organization yet. I’m taking the “Let’s Get Social” training, and have only been up and going for a couple of weeks. However, I am a classical musician myself and I already know exactly the kind of organizations I want to work with and have a pretty good idea of how I could help. I’m excited to follow your blog and learn from you!

    Currently, the best way to see what I do is to check out my own website or other social profiles. :-) http://rachelannpoling.com

    Thanks again!

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