The strength and success of nonprofit arts organizations today relies on our ability to proactively engage with audiences and donors in meaningful ways. In a world of instant feedback, extensive relationship networks and an environment where prospective audiences have access to inﬁnite information and abundant leisure-time options, we must develop strategies to engage with our constituents on their terms and in the spaces they prefer.
Engage(dot)Next is an annual conference which explores engagement with diverse audiences on diverse platforms – fundamentally asking “how do we engage today and tomorrow’s audiences and donors.”
As part of our work with San Jose, CA-based SVCreates, I coordinated and developed the curriculum for the 2016 Engage(dot)Next conference, which included over 130 participants – 3 keynote speakers, a dozen panelist, multiple break-out sessions, and a special round of “speed coaching.” While attendees were primarily from the arts community in Santa Clara County, the content and learnings are relevant for anyone in the nonprofit sector seeking ways to engage their network.What a day of inspiration, insights, ideas and energy! We made new friends, learned new skills, explored new trends and laughed – a lot! From the Arc of Engagement to Super Bowl ads to the best tweet using #EngageDot3… so much was offered to strengthen the way small and mid-size arts organizations approach engagement and storytelling.
Jason Holland, of Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County reviewed the Arc of Engagement and the Impact Echo, and discussed the importance of setting goals and measuring success. You can read more about the Arc of Engagement here in WolfBrown “Making Sense of Audience Engagement” http://wolfbrown.com/images/
A team of social media experts and arts reporters from KQED (the SF Bay Area’s flagship public radio station), provided insights into how public media approaches using social media to engage audiences in new ways. They also provided specific recommendations for how arts groups should pitch stories to the press. Take a look at what your local public media station is doing on Twitter, Facebook and U-tube – NPR member stations around the country are on the cutting edge of this work. We can learn from them!
Some key hints:
- Know Your Audience or Prospective Audience – who are you talking to?
- Set Realistic Goals – what do you want to happen and how will you know it’s working?
- Determine a budget
- Make some noise – how can you maximize the impact of your efforts?
- Mind your mobile state – a cost-effective way to communicate with the nearly 2/3 of US residents who carry smartphones *
- Keep your edge – consider and test new ways to communicate and engage
Whether you are engaging through one on one meetings, performance based activities, events, Facebook, Twitter, or any one of the dozen of other ways we communicate and interact today – stay focused and authentic and you will build relationships to help advance your mission.