This is the first blog in a 3-part series aiming to provide insight to artists and arts organizations on how to better engage audiences in the digital world, collaborate with the private sector, and build a network of volunteers. To provide expertise in these areas, the Luminato Festival shares its best practices and leading-edge initiatives.
Like any business, arts organizations are aware that they must be active across multiple platforms in order to reach new audiences. The following are a few examples of how the Luminato Festival has increased its presence in the digital landscape over the past year.
The Luminato Festival has recently gone through a number of organizational changes: we've had a new Artistic Director arrive and we've refreshed the design and feel of our branding and website. However, the core mandate of the Festival remains the same: to provide festivalgoers with extraordinary artistic experiences and to celebrate the creativity that unites us all by presenting the best from Toronto, across Canada and around the globe. As a ten-day festival, one of our key challenges is strengthening our brand and engaging audiences year-round.
One of the ways we engage our audience is through the following social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Vine. On these platforms we not only promote our own content but also celebrate and spark conversation by highlighting information from partner organizations, inviting audiences to post their own comments and photos from our events, and offering other fun original content. Another strategy for reaching new audiences on social media is to run contests with our media and corporate partners. We ask our partners to promote these contests to their respective members, and as a result we reach and engage new audiences.
An effective tactic for contests is asking for user-generated content (ex. asking people to share their favourite Joni Mitchell moment for a chance to win tickets to her tribute concert). In the off-season we have asked people to share their most creative summer moment via Instagram and Twitter. User-generated content not only engages your audience but also opens up a dialogue. Social media should go beyond messaging and give your audience the opportunity to interact with your organization directly.
An active social media presence and daily website updates are key to engaging our audience beyond the ten-day festival. Through these channels we share current news from the global arts community and stories about what past Festival artists are working on now, as well as original content on our blog created by our artistic team. The proof of our impact is in our stats: since the festival has ended we have gained 1,200 Twitter followers and just in the last several months (post-festival) we have had 70,000 visitors to our website.
Short videos have also become a crucial tool for promoting participation in upcoming Festival events. During the lead-up to the festival, we created short promotional videos to highlight some of our programming. For instance, we made a video of a day spent at a cooking school with a grade 7 class that was part of the Future Tastes of Toronto: At the Kids' Table food event, and in another video writers offered an insightful look into the importance of the Literary Picnic. The films were effective in introducing some of the artists involved and in building interest and anticipation for the events. We received a great deal of positive feedback about how genuine, funny and engaging these videos were, and they were widely shared.
Authors talk about the Luminato Festival Literary Picnic:
As part of our 2013 Luminato Festival we made our content more accessible by offering audiences the opportunity to watch our events via a live stream. No matter where one was located, they could watch a high quality live stream of our Laurie Anderson concert in real time. We live streamed 16 of our Hub concerts, including those of Serena Ryder, Maxi Priest, Patrick Watson, k-os and more. Fans also had a chance to watch a live interview with Patrick Watson backstage, where we asked him questions that had been sent to us via Twitter and Facebook.
Patrick Watson Interview:
As part of the Luminato Festival's partnership with the New York Times, we made all of our TimesTalks events available via live stream. Fans of Joni Mitchell around the globe could tune in to watch an intimate conversation with the music icon. All of these concerts and conversations are still available on the Luminato Festival YouTube channel. The availability of this incredible digital content beyond the 10-day Festival period helps us grow our audiences year-round. We have had over 75,000 visitors to our YouTube channel to date, including our most popular videos, TimesTalk: Joni Mitchell (29,165 views) and Laurie Anderson Concert (21,803 views). Our channel has become a destination point that gets new subscribers, comments and visitors every day.
2013 Luminato Festival Highlights Video:
Offering original and compelling content across social media platforms, engaging in conversations with your audiences about the arts, and inviting the public's contributions: these are all powerful ways to grow one's global digital audience.
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