#Whippersnappers – 5 Tips for Marketing the Arts to Multigenerational Audiences

Posted by Mr. Sean King, Oct 08, 2014 0 comments

Sean King Sean King

Would you send a Vine to your grandmother?

Would you tell your teenager to check out an ad in the newspaper?

OMG, did you really just send that on Snapchat? And what the heck is Snapchat anyway?

Arts marketers have the challenge of providing support for nearly every major facet of our organizations from development to branding, ticket sales to programming, volunteer recruitment to public relations.

But how do we use traditional and social media to reach the generations of our audience through multiple medias, with multiple messages, without being completely overwhelmed and completely alienating our audiences?

Ad spends are now defined as “buying” your audience’s attention through free content with promotional or entertaining messaging. The downside to this strategy is that our audience has limited time and personal bandwidth to give to you, while the amount of noise in their lives increases exponentially.

Mix in the nearly daily addition of new platforms, apps and rules added to utilize social media, and just as you figure it out, it changes again.

When you are functioning at maximum capacity, you are creating new content and publishing it on multiple platforms, re-purposing and redistributing it on a continuous cycle for each segment of your audience.

Here are five tips I’ve found helpful to help you when attempting to reach a multi-generational audience through multiple platforms and with multiple messages:

#1 – Media and message  - When creating a marketing strategy for a multi-generational audience, be sure the messaging appeals to a specific segment of your audience. A small change in how the same story, images or information is presented can make a huge difference.

#2 – Putting the Social in Social Media – Social media connects audience members to one another and you to them, but use the right platform for the right audience. Take a minute to think about your latest posts. Who were they for? Did they provide meaningful results?

Here are some social media musings:

  • Facebook is Dead. Except, of course, it isn’t. To maximize Facebook’s effectiveness, invest dollars in the same way we once did in other media. The benefit is that you know your messaging is reaching YOUR audience. Facebook is cool and hip for those 30+, add resources to your budget for your Facebook spend.
  • Become a star. Twitter is the personality driven platform. Why else would the Twitterati exist? If there’s a personality in your organization, push them to tweet. At the very least, be sure you are retweeting the stars of your show, whether performing on the stage or behind the scenes. This is essential to artists to do in genuine ways.
  • Instagram it. Photos are the universal language. All generations love them, especially millennials.  Probably the smartest move of all is to include a visual strategy in your communication plan… even better if you can connect the images to words.
  • LinkedIn… and not just looking for a job. Use your creativity to connect with the professional, business segment of your audience. This platform takes patience for the arts, but the payoffs can be big in the value of just one true connection.

Are all social media platforms right for you? Absolutely not. Watch your trends and review your analytics to maximize the value of these connections and spend your time only with those that move you towards your goals the fastest.

#3 Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants. Observe how individuals use technology. 50 year olds would never use their phone as a mirror. Meanwhile, a millennial would probably not write a formal blog post.

The majority of Matures, Baby Boomers, and even Generation X are still not 100% comfortable with the technology in their life. Meanwhile, Generation Y, Millennials, and the up-and-coming Plurals, never knew a day without digital.

Use those facts to make decisions on message delivery and how you design engagement from your website to your donation forms and beyond.

#4 – Bring me the ice bucket.  As most recently experienced through the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, buzz is a very fleeting thing. While every executive director demands you to come up with the next viral sensation, sadly it’s not in the cards for most of us.

That’s not to say we cannot create the excitement, the enthusiasm, and the authenticity associated with buzz. When it is genuine, people want to become part of the energy.

Use traditional media to connect with social and vice versa to fuel the buzz. The older crowd understands the importance of traditional press conferences, while the younger generation wants to text the latest with their friends. Leverage special appearances, interviews and other out of the box promotions as accelerants for the buzz.

#5 - What have you done today to collaborate? Cooperative efforts with other artists and organizations take a good deal of strategy and planning, but when it works, the results are impressive.

Leveraging all of the possibilities within specific demographics and those who are already reaching them allows for you to create special engagement that resonates with each group and brings more fans.

The main take away from #Whippersnappers is that you need to treat each generation of your audience members with customized media and content to engage the audience.

The cold hard truth is that you eventually will run out of time, money or human resources. BUT, you will never exhaust the amount of content you can create, nor the amount of buzz you can build - but it’s sure fun trying!


Sean King will be speaking at our National Arts Marketing Project Conference, Nov. 7-10 in Atlanta during the Roundtable session: #whippersnappers: Marketing the Arts in a Multigenerational World.

 The Arts Marketing Blog Salon is generously sponsored by Patron Technology.

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