Social Media Update 2016

This post originally appeared on Head over there for lots of great information for arts administrators.

A few weeks ago, the Pew Research Center released their Social Media Update. Take a look and see lots of great data about how people are using social media.

Over the past decade, Pew Research Center has documented the wide variety of ways in which Americans use social media to seek out information and interact with others. A majority of Americans now say they get news via social media, and half of the public has turned to these sites to learn about the 2016 presidential election. Americans are using social media in the context of…

Read the full report…

How to Create Custom Audiences on Facebook

This post originally appeared on Head over there for lots of great information for arts administrators.

Did you know that you can upload your ticket buyer list and show Facebook ads directly to them?

If you are running paid Facebook campaigns, you need to know about the power of Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences.

As per Facebook, “a Custom Audience from a customer list is a type of audience you can create made up of your existing customers.” And, “Lookalike Audiences are a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to customers you care about.”

How to Create Custom Audiences on Facebook

I’m sure you can immediately see the value is serving content to these types of groups on Facebook.

Let’s jump right in and I’ll show you how to create them.

1. Create a Facebook ad campaign in your Ads Manager

After you create the campaign, at the top of the screen should be the Audience area.  Right at the top you will see Custom Audiences.  Since this is your first time, you will need to create one by clicking on Create New under the text field.


Choose Custom Audience (I’ll get to Lookalike Audiences later) and then choose Customer File here:


On the next screen, choose Choose a File or Copy and Paste Data

2. Upload your list

This is where the real fun starts.  You’ll need to have your list as a .CSV file and you can upload it here.


3. Map your data

You can then map your data fields however you’d like.  It used to be that Facebook could just get a match based on an email or phone number, but that’s not the case anymore.  You can match using a combination of many fields such as name, zip code, gender, age, and more.


Click Upload & Create and you are on your way!

Now, once that Custom Audience has been created, you can use it as part of  your targeting for your Facebook ads by going back to the Audience area again in your Ad Set (Step 1) and typing in the name of the audience.

About Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike Audiences are super powerful because they allow you to easily create an audience that is similar to a Custom Audience you’ve already uploaded.  Say you want to create a lookalike audience of your new acquisitions for the opera Carmen.

1. Upload your base Custom Audience

The first thing you’ll want to do is upload your new acquisition ticket buyers for that particular show as a Custom Audience using the steps above.

2. Go back to your Audience area in your Ad Set and choose Create New > Lookalike Audience


3.  Choose the audience you want to clone

The cool thing about Lookalike Audiences is that you can based them on either a Custom Audience or people who like your Facebook Page.  If you want to clone your Carmen new acquisition ticket buyers, you will see that Custom Audience in the list of options.  If you want to use your page, you’ll see that there as well.


Then click Create Audience. That’s it!

After you start with a Custom Audience, you can still refine that targeting to people within that audience who live in a certain geographic area, have certain interests, etc.

Do you use Custom Audiences already? I’d love to hear about your successes!

3 Things All Your Facebook Posts Should Have

This post originally appeared on Head over there for lots of great information for arts administrators.

We all do Facebook, right? Whether you do organic posts, paid posts, or a combination of the two, there are three things that your posts should have to make them more effective.

The goal with Facebook (or any social media, really) is engagement.  “Reach” doesn’t really matter if no one is engaging with your content.

It goes without saying that your post copy should be engaging and relevant.  I usually recommend no more than 3-4 lines of text in a post. You want it to be just enough to get people interested but not too much where they won’t read it and scroll right on by.

Going beyond the text, there are three more tactical items that your posts should have. Do your Facebook posts have these three key elements?

1. A photo or video

Every single one of your posts should include a natively uploaded photo or video.  Facebook likes content like this and will rank it higher. It also is much more engaging for the viewer. What do I mean by “natively uploaded,” you ask?  Don’t use the preview image that appears when you put in a link.  Actually upload the photo or video directly to Facebook using the little camera icon at the bottom of your post like this:


(Also, be sure that your image is the correct size.  I recommend two free tools for quickly and easily sizing images for social media: Canva and Landscape.)

2. Tags (when possible)

When you are writing a post, always be sure to tag people, organizations, and businesses when possible.  When you add a tag to your post, people who also follow that person/thing might see your post as well, upping your reach. Tagging is super simple to do so make sure you remember to do it whenever you can.


3. A link

What do you want people to do after seeing your post? Think about your messaging for a moment. Are you talking about an upcoming performance? An education program for children? A current fundraising campaign? Make sure you add a URL at the end of your post that links directly to additional pertinent information. A URL click is a great type of engagement on a post because you are getting people from Facebook over to your website.


Tip: If the URL of your landing page is rather long, shorten it by using a free service like Bitly.

3 Things All Your Facebook Posts Should Have

How To Create A “Dark Post” On Facebook

This post originally appeared on Head over there for lots of great information for arts administrators.

Updated on December 19, 2016

Have you ever experimented with so-called “dark posts” on Facebook?  A dark post (also called an unpublished post) is a post that doesn’t show up on your page but can be promoted through an advertising campaign.

How To Create A “Dark Post” On Facebook

Dark posts can be really handy when you want to reach out to specific groups of people but not clutter your page with too much varying content.  Some examples of how you could use dark posts as a part of your Facebook marketing might be:

  • To run a companion campaign for your young friends group for event RSVPs, ticket purchases, or even membership
  • To engage a specific demographic group with imagery and messaging that is meaningful to them
  • To reinforce subscription renewal messaging to a custom audience of your existing subscribers

As you can see, there are lots of ways that you can use dark posts to your advantage!

Let’s get started on how to make a dark post and use it in your campaign.

Step 1

Go to your Business Manager, select your Ad Account, click on the menu button in the top left (right next to the Facebook logo), and then select All Tools. This will open up a menu that looks like this where you can select Power Editor


Step 2

On the left-hand side of the page, click on Ads Posts


Step 3

Click on the Create Post button and it will bring up a dialogue box where you can create your post.  My favorite kind of posts are using photos, so you’ll see that I have that type selected here


Be sure that “This post will only be used as an ad” is selected at the bottom.

After you create the post, you should see it in your Power Editor and it will look like this:


You can click on the post and see what it will look like in the feed.  Here is the sample post that I created:


Step 4

Go out of Power Editor and back to your Ad Account.  You can either create a new campaign (as I’m doing in the screenshot below) or add your post to an existing campaign.  Either way, you should now have this post as an option in the dropdown


From here, you will be taken to the Ad Set level to choose your targeting and budget.

To track your dark post’s performance, you will need to go to your Power Editor and it will show you the stats there.

Have you ever utilized dark posts on Facebook?  How did you use them and were they successful?

Have you thought about an arts virtual assistant?

Launching today: arts virtual assistants, a new firm trying a different approach to solving “brain drain” caused by high turnover in arts and cultural organizations. gives arts groups access to skilled part-time workers who know the arts and can do tasks such as creating email newsletters, engaging audiences on Facebook, or writing grants. This creates savings on overhead, while allowing nonprofit workers to gain work from a wide audience of clients. To see a video and learn more, check out the homepage of and follow on Twitter @artsarmyVA

Technology Integration at Palm Beach Opera

This post was originally written for the Culture Builds Florida Blog.

You may think that opera and technology don’t go together, but the arts are quite perfect for integration with all things digital.  Here are 5 things that we use regularly that enable Palm Beach Opera to get the word out about what we do and further engage our audience.

1. Website – Everyone knows that having a website is imperative to any arts organization.  However, a website is only as good as how well it is managed and the quality of information contained within. A few years ago, Palm Beach Opera switched from a traditional CMS (content management system) to WordPress, an open-source CMS.  This small change has revolutionized how we are able to manage our website.  You may have heard of which is a free web-based blogging platform but WordPress can also be used to create and manage a website on your own server.   Any website is a kinetic entity that should be updated often to reflect upcoming events and using a web-based open-source CMS like WordPress allows us to do that quickly and easily from any computer or device with an internet connection.


2. Website Analytics – Website analytics are nothing new, with most people utilizing the powerful platform of Google Analytics to monitor website activity.  (If you don’t look at your website stats at least a couple times per week, I highly recommend that you do.  What you see will most likely be quite eye-opening.)  In addition to the standard analytics, we use two other sites that give incredibly useful information: Chartbeat and Crazy Egg.  Chartbeat shows real-time analytics so that we can see how many people are on our site at any given time and their activity as it happens.  This ability can be especially useful to track traffic after an enewsletter or other email communication has gone out to ensure visitors are visiting the intended pages.  It also is great for monitoring traffic during any kind of web promotion or contest.  You will be able to immediately see if conversions aren’t occurring as intended and make the necessary changes.


CrazyEgg is a fantastic site that gives you heatmap data for any page on your website.  In the past, heatmaps were available to only large for-profit companies because of the high cost.  With Crazy Egg, heatmaps are now available to all and the cost is very minimal.  Studies have shown that there is a very high correlation between eye movement and mouse movement and that is how Crazy Egg is able to give this sort of data.  Heatmaps will show you where people are looking (and clicking) on any page of your website.  This is especially useful in optimizing your homepage and landing pages throughout the site.  When used in conjunction with an easily-updatable website, necessary updates can be made quickly and easily to improve performance.


3. Social Media Management – At Palm Beach Opera, we use Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube as our main social media platforms.  (It is important to remember to only be on the social media platforms that work for your organization.  Don’t feel pressured to be on too many if they don’t make sense or you don’t have time to manage them all.) It can be tough to keep up with multiple platforms especially if your organization has a small staff or the responsibility falls to one person only.  To help with this, we use Sprout Social to manage social media activity.  Sprout Social aggregates the activity on our social media profiles so that it can be seen in one place making it much easier to manage.  It also gives stats and data so that you can have useful demographic information about your friends and followers as well as statistics about activity and engagement levels.  Sprout Social is very nonprofit friendly as they offer a $9/month plan that will fit most organizations’ needs plus a 50% nonprofit discount.


4. Mobile – When we debuted our iPhone app a few years ago, Palm Beach Opera was one of the first arts organizations to have an app but now being mobile-friendly is becoming more and more important.  We were able to build our app using InstantEncore’s platform and it is very cost-effective.  It may not make sense for every organization to have an app but you do need to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.  More and more people are surfing the web using a mobile device and, whether it is on a phone or with a tablet, arts organizations need to be ready and keep up with the trend. If you happen to be using open-source CMS to run your website, there are a variety of plugins that will create a mobile version of your site quickly and easily.


Also, sites utilizing responsive design capabilities will do this automatically for you.  The first step is to view your site using a smartphone or tablet to see what it looks like.  Is all of your content visible?  Does the navigation function?  Is it easy to move around the site?  If the answer to any of these is “no,” you will want to put a plan in place to improve the mobile viewing experience as soon as possible. You never know, your next ticket purchase may come from someone viewing your site on an iPad or Kindle Fire!


5. Tweet Seats  – There has been a lot of attention on tweeting during performances recently giving cases both for and against it.  There is no one way to do tweet seats, and they might not be appropriate for your organization depending on your venue or programming.  We decided to try it out this past season not for our regular performances, but rather for our final dress rehearsals.  We offered a small amount of seats to the dress rehearsal to people who signed up on our website who are active on Twitter with the understanding that they would tweet about what they were experiencing during the show.  They were encouraged to be honest and use their own voice in their tweets and to give any thoughts or feelings that they had.  The first event went very well and word started to spread and soon we had a great number of ticket requests for subsequent dress rehearsals.  We were lucky to attract people who wouldn’t be considered “opera-goers” and many of those who came to tweet had never been to an opera before.  Coincidentally, we also attracted some members of the media at local TV stations, which resulted in additional media coverage for the opera.  Based on the success of the events this season, we plan on continuing to offer tweet seats in future seasons to bring opera to members of the community at large.

What is Your Cultural Organization Doing on its Summer Vacation?

By Katie Walsh-Edwards

For many South Florida cultural organizations, summer means an end of the programming season as snowbirds head north. This easy, breezy slowdown might seem like a welcome break; but arts marketers be warned, you could be heading for a HUGE mistake:


Think about it. You have worked hard adding interesting content to your Tumblr, and discovering what kind of media your Facebook audience responds to. Reporters and critics know your Twitter handle as well as they know your name. You have cultivated an audience who has gladly accepted you into their daily social stream. Do. Not. Mess. This. Up.

So what do you talk about when you don’t have very many events to promote?  Well if you are following the 80/20 formula (80% engagement/20% broadcasting) then a slowdown in programming shouldn’t be a dramatic change. Nevertheless you still want to keep your organization‘s name out there. So let’s look at three ideas that will help you answer the question:  “What is my organization doing on its summer vacation?”

1. Advocate.
Politics and religion are almost always no-no’s, but arts advocacy is unquestionably important. Highlight people or groups who support the arts in your community, such as organizations collecting instruments for school kids, or a congressional representative speaking on the importance of arts funding.  Show your patrons that you aren’t just there to sell tickets, you truly believe in the product.

2. Treat your audience to a private tour.
Behind-the-scenes tours and artist meet-and-greets don’t have to be limited to VIP donors anymore. If you have in-house musicians or performers, capture a jam session or a rehearsal. Take pictures of the stage crew working on scenery or art handlers de-installing an exhibit. We take for granted all of the interesting things we get to see when we work for a cultural organization. Giving your audience a peak of what goes on behind the curtain will help people feel engaged and supportive of your organization.

3. But remember, it doesn’t always have to be about you.
Art touches all areas of our lives, and that includes holidays and milestones. For the Fourth of July, if you don’t have  relevant footage from your own organization, it’s OK to share someone else’s great performance. (My personal favorite is the Boston Pops “1812 Overture” set to fireworks.) August 18 is National Bad Poetry day, which sounds like a great opportunity for a Facebook contest.  You could even take a moment to spotlight another arts organization’s program. Playing well with others is a skill that has helped many arts marketers develop successful and innovative partnerships. Who knows, maybe the favor will be returned when you have an event in the future.

With a little creativity and planning, nonprofit arts marketers can maintain or even strengthen relationships with their social media audiences during the off-season. Rather than looking at this as downtime, use the quiet as a chance to stand out, and showcase your organization as the dynamic, nonstop cultural force it really is.

In addition to being a super cool gal, Katie Walsh-Edwards is the Marketing & Development Director at The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida.  She is also on the board of the Palm Beach Chapter of the PRSA.

Using Sprout Social To Monitor Social Media

I recently began using Sprout Social to monitor and manage the social media account at Palm Beach Opera and I’ve got one thing to say about it: I LOVE IT!

There are many social media monitoring sites out there but many of them are just too darn expensive for the average nonprofit organization.  Anyone who knows me or has heard me speak knows that I prefer to do things that are free and only spend money on social media and web projects when it is really worth it.  Well, this is worth it indeed.  The Professional account is only $9.00 per month and they give a 50% discount for nonprofits.  In my mind, $4.50 per month is totally worth it for this product!

1. You can monitor Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.
It is super easy to get set up and connect your Twitter and Facebook pages to be monitored.  If you have more than one Facebook page (and perhaps even a Facebook place page) it will handle that as well.

2. The Reports Tab helps you to stay on track.
Anyone who has heard me speak about social media knows about my 80/20 rule for nonprofits. 80% engagement and 20% broadcasting leads to successful use of social media.  Well, the Reports Tab tells you exactly how well you are doing with that.

(OOPS!  Looks like I’m at 72/28 at the moment…I better work on engaging more!)

3. It alerts you when there is new activity.
Perhaps my favorite feature is the Inbox Tab.  It tells you when someone has followed you, posts on a Facebook wall, mentions you on Facebook, or @replies you on Twitter.  Taking this one step further, you can reply to that person directly from there without having to log into Twitter or Facebook separately.

Those of you who still have an email alert set up on Twitter that will email you when you have a new follower won’t have to worry about the email deluge anymore!  This one feature has simplified my workflow more than I can say.

4. You can monitor keywords and search terms across different social media platforms and the web.
You may ask me, “But I use HootSuite or TweetDeck to do these things.  Why do I need something else?”  Well, I am an avid TweetDeck user and I continue to use it even now to stay on top of the conversation that is happening on Twitter.  However, it never worked quite how I wanted it regarding search terms for Palm Beach Opera.

Well, that is my quick tour of Sprout Social.  I suggest anyone managing social media at a nonprofit organization check it out to see if it works for you.


Butts In Seats: 5 Tips for Event Marketing Using Social Media

Social media is an important piece of the event marketing puzzle.  Unlike most nonprofits that are marketing one product all year long (a charitable cause), a performing arts organization markets multiple different products (performances and events) throughout each season.  It can be challenging to market diverse offerings whilst still under the umbrella of one organization.   Let me share my top 5 tips to marketing events that will generate buzz and improve conversions.

1.Don’t forget about the 80/20 rule. This is a rule that I live by regarding social media marketing, whether it is when I’m marketing an event or not.  I find that the best ratio to keep people engaged but not tick them off is to have 80% engagement and 20% broadcasting.  Even when you have an event to market, talking 100% about that event is just going to turn people off and they aren’t going to listen to one word that you are saying.

2. Engage creatively. This one goes together with tip #1 about the 80/20 rule.   You may ask, why should I waste time tweeting or posting about stuff that has nothing to do with my event when I’m trying to sell tickets?  Well, that is pretty simple to answer.

If you are engaging with people, you will be top of mind so that when they do hear something about you or your event, they will remember the interaction and be much more likely to check it out.  A creative ways to sneak a bit of broadcasting into your engagement posts is to set up a search column in TweetDeck or HootSuite (or whatever program you are using to monitor your social media) with keywords related to your event.

For example, when Palm Beach Opera presents Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, I set up columns for not only the opera title, but also for related terms such as Puccini and Miss Saigon (which is based on the opera).  This way, I can converse with people who are talking about related things without directly “selling” my event to them.  This way, when you do send out those 20% of posts that are directly about the event, you have already engaged a potentially new group of people in addition to your existing fans.

3. Make sure your website is up to par. This may seem obvious but it is surprising how many times I see this not being done.  The best way to get the word out about your event is to have it prominently featured on the homepage of your website.  Also, the event should have its own dedicated page with a unique URL.  This URL is imperative to any promotion of the event online whether it is using social media or email.

When promoting an event using social media, add the URL to each broadcasting post.  Do you think the URL is too long?  Use a link shortener like or to make the link more manageable.  An added bonus to these shorteners is that you will be able to see how many people clicked on the link with their built in stats.

4. Make it easy to buy. A good user experience is very important in closing the deal with an attendee. The buying process should be as simple as possible.  You should always allow tickets to be purchased for your event online.

If you don’t have your own ticketing system or if this is an occasional event, try an online service like or BrownPaperTickets.comthat creates an easy environment for ticket buying.  The biggest no-no is to promote an event online and then have the only way to buy tickets be over the phone.  You want to make sure that it only takes a couple of clicks between your tweet and buying a ticket.

5. Follow up after the event. Don’t forget to follow up with your attendees after the event in a timely manner.  Encourage people to share their thoughts about the event on your profiles.  If you offered social media discount and you are able to track ticket buyers with a code of some sort, send an email or a direct tweet to them just after the event with an easy way for them to provide feedback.

If you didn’t use a code, it is still a good idea to make contact with your ticket buyers right after the event to thank them for coming and ask for feedback.  Also, don’t forget to keep a separate list of the email addresses of your ticket buyers.  This will come in handy when the next event comes as you know they will be a captive audience.

Ceci Dadisman is the arts marketing go-to gal! She is the Director of Marketing & PR at Palm Beach Opera where, in addition to all of the usual marketing duties, she manages all aspects of the company’s technology and new media projects, including social media, website, iPhone app, and live web streaming.  During her time at Palm Beach Opera, she has brought Palm Beach Opera to the forefront of the social media and new technology realm proving that companies of all sizes and budgets can do great things in the world of digital marketing.  Ceci was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA – home to the Pittsburgh Steelers, sandwiches and salads with french fries on top, and some of the top arts organizations in the nation. She graduated from West Virginia University (let’s go Mountaineers!) with a music degree in vocal performance and is a professional singer.

Why bigger isn’t always better

If you are an arts organization that has a budget of less than $500,000 (or even less than $1 million) and you need marketing help don’t immediately think that you need to hire a big marketing firm or ad agency to get your marketing off on the right foot.

Here are a few tips and things to consider for small or emerging arts organizations looking to hire outside marketing help to revamp or set up their marketing:

1.  Be Prepared

No matter what stage of the game your organization is in, whether it is a new organization or an existing one, identify the key goals you would like to accomplish.  This doesn’t just mean “We want to sell more tickets and get more donations.”  Those are goals that every arts organization on the planet has.  Think a bit more specifically on how you want to get to those broad, overarching goals.

A great place to start is to identify the things that aren’t working.  Perhaps you have a website that you can’t update easily or it is outdated, you want to start selling tickets online, you need a fresh look for your logo or collateral materials, or maybe you are a new organization and need to get a solid foundation built in the right way.

Having some specific things in mind will help any potential firm or consultant zero in on exactly what you need and determine whether or not they can help you achieve those goals.

2. Search Wisely

Marketing for an arts nonprofit is very different from marketing a for-profit company and even a non-arts nonprofit.  Just because a consultant has done marketing for nonprofits before doesn’t always mean that they are adept at navigating the idiosyncrasies of an arts organization.  The same goes for a consultant who has never done marketing for nonprofits at all.  That does not mean that there are not marketers out there who can adapt very easily from one sector to the other but it is always a good idea to start with people who have experience in arts marketing before.

Also, when meeting with prospective consultants or firms, be very forthcoming about your budget.  If you can only spend $5,000 for marketing for your entire season, they will need to know that right off the bat.  There are some firms that only deal with accounts of over a certain dollar amount and there is no use getting further into talks with someone that fundamentally won’t work out.

If the consultant or firm says that they will work with small budgets, be sure to ask them what other clients they currently have or have had in the past with similar budgetary restrictions.  What types of grass-roots marketing have they done in the past?  How were they able to achieve maximum results for minimum dollars?

One last note:  Be very wary of large firms that offer to work with you free of charge.  This is very suspicious and I’ve never seen it end well.

3.  Sometimes you get what you pay for

And sometimes you don’t.  Us nonprofit-minded folks like to try and think creatively to see what we can get for free.  Free can be very good but it can also be very bad.  If you know you desperately need to re-vamp your website, 9 times out of 10 hiring your Co-Founder/Artistic Director’s 16-year-old nephew (or your 2nd violinist’s wife or your board president’s neighbor) to do it pro bono is not the right choice.  I can tell you this with almost 100% certainty:  you will not get a sleek, professional looking website that can sell tickets and process online donations built in a timely fashion that you can easily update yourself without any knowledge of HTML.  (And just for the record: Yes, every size organization can have and should have a website that is all of those things and you don’t have to spend even $1,000 to get it.)

That said, there are some things that you can certainly get for free that can be very beneficial to your organization.  You can have friends, family, and other interested parties help with supplementing your social media or serve as brand ambassadors for your organization to spread the word.  (Notice I used the word “supplement.”  This is very important.  Your marketing professional be the #1 person in charge of your social media plan and strategy as well as overseeing all those who tweet and post on behalf of the organization.) If you know of someone who likes to blog, get them on board as a guest blogger on your site to keep the content fresh.  If you sell your own program ads, send supporters out there to help you make contacts in the community with potential advertisers.

All of the things that go into marketing an arts organization (whether they cost a pretty penny or won’t cost you a dime) have to be orchestrated by someone, though. This is where your consultant or firm comes in.  Things tend to work out much better when you have a qualified person managing all of this who knows what they are doing. 🙂