The growing importance of social media within a cultural foundation

First time I got the opportunity to work with Workshop Foundation within the frame of SuSy Scholarship from Aug 2010 until January 2011. That time I got an insight of how cultural organizations in Hungary and in Europe operate. Also my thesis was based on the research I started within the SuSy Program. I wrote about how culture and art can affect urban development all around Europe.
This time I was researching a current phenomenon, which is affecting and changing our professional and personal lives as well. The social media and its relevance in cultural organizations, especially Workshop Foundation and it’s relation to Jardin d’Europe.

Social media revolution is definitely here. 1 billion users on Facebook would make it to the 3rd largest country -if it was one - in the world, where over 50 % of the population would be under 30 years old. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google etc.) has become the #1 activity on the Web. Every second two new members join Linked in – the world's largest professional network. Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world; every minute 72 hours of video are uploaded. 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, only 14% trust advertisements. There’s even a new science dedicated to this phenomenon, called Socialnomics, founded by Erik Qualman, which examines the Word of Mouth on Digital Steroids. We arrived to an era, where people don’t have to search for products and services, but those will find them via social media. Hence why 93% of marketers use social media for business, whether it be brand promotion, a dance-class, or a training etc.

So we can’t deny the growing role of social media not even as a non-profit organization. The culture sector has acknowledged the power and possibilities provided by this system. Cultural organizations, artists, performances, companies are present on this platform and it’s actually helping them to reach out for more that they could reach before and through new approaches, techniques. That’s what I’ve been developing and researching during my second SuSy scholarship granted by Jardin d’Europe network.
Workshop Foundation joined Facebook 3rd August 2010. In order to reach and engage people we had to build our page. Ever since joining we managed to get 1092 people to like our page. (This is more than what Jardin d’Europe’s page has.) In the last 6 months thanks to the crescent, more varied activity on Facebook we got in average 50 fans per month. Our most popular age group is between 25-34 years old, and 75% of them are women. Our most popular city is Budapest, but we are very proud that we have followers from basically all over the world, f. e. United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Sweden etc. Most likely it is because being part of international networks like Jardin d’Europe itself, and our most popular residency program, The Research into the Unknown, for what we get in average 40 applications from abroad every semester. It is also nice to see, how the number of like is getting hire when posting an open call for Jardin residency or sharing another partner’s offer. 2 September 2012 was the most popular week so far due to our dance populariser program, the Dancemarathon, and the continuous documentation photo uploads, which I was taking and was in charge of. The role of photos has one of the biggest impact. It might sound petty, but people like to see themselves, visual attraction can cause engagement, and also own pictures count a lot in the so called EdgeRank algorithm, which influence our visibility.
EdgeRank is an algorithm used by Facebook to determine where and what posts appear on each individual user’s news feed in order to give users relevant and wanted content. The three variables that make up this algorithm are affinity, weight and time decay. The newsfeed algorithm is broken down to 4 main social  factors divided into 2 categories:

A. Personal interaction

1.    Your previous interaction with the author

2.    Your previous interaction with the post type

B. Network reaction

3. Reacton of people who already saw the post
 4. Amount of complaints or negative feedback

So It also required a certain self-definition, what the Foundation wants to communicate. We try to fulfil our aims in our Facebook communication as well, which are education, production help, and professional help.

The main topics would be:

- information about our programs, classes, events, scholarships, opportunities
- information about other dance related programs, events, scholarships, opportunities contemporary dance and performing arts related interesting news, facts, videos, photos

Thanks to this task I could try myself out as a copywriter and curator as well.

The statistics offered by Facebook help us to target our posts, regarding the content and the graphic design and aiming too. Because of our international audience we keep it multilingual; our posts appear in Hungarian and in English as well.

Our products are our dance classes, courses, trainings. We consider ourselves a channel so we share and spread the knowledge we obtain through being connected with other international organizations. Hence for us the word-of-mouth concept, what Facebook is based on works perfectly for our purposes. People have been sharing our posts and we also use the „Boost” and „Promote” function to reach more people, who could be interested in our projects.
As a cultural organization dealing with performing arts, Youtube and Vimeo, the most popular video sharing sites are perfect for us to be able to promote our dance classes or share performances. What we can’t express with words, we can make visible and a lot more attractive through visual representations.
In a European context, Facebook or other social media means are a perfect platform to stay connected internationally. It allows us to stay in touch with our fellow organizations, hear about their news and offers and also to get inspired. Basically we can see the world and that’s a great opportunity to broaden our horizon and have different perspectives on life, art and work as well.

It also creates space to international collaborations, even without having to be at the same place. It has opened up a wide range of options, and new ways to be creative.
For the growing importance of being able to not only manage but manage well these tools, and also the absence what I have experienced from the part of the teachers or companies we are working with, I have organized an international Social media training for artists and cultural managers, so that we could cooperate better in the future and that they could promote themselves in an effective way.
As the social media is one of the most fast developing field, we still have to learn a lot. I’m still planning to dig deeper in Facebook’s world and to explore the other means of social media, for which now I have a valid basis thanks to the opportunity given by Jardin d’Europe’s scholarship.

Budapest 30/06/2013    Ágnes Grélinger

Data source:
Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business by Erik Qualman

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