The National Arts Marketing Project has posted a new article by Amelia Northrup, whom I met at the NAMP conference in November. She writes about top technology trends for the arts in 2011. It’s definitely worth a read.
While I agree with her that on a national level, these are trends to note, when you live in a medium-sized community surrounded by rural communities and most of the groups you work with are still struggling to keep their Facebook pages updated regularly, it’s hard to think that things like dynamic pricing, location-based social media and mobile ticket apps will take off with small to mid-sized arts organizations any time soon.
Ever since I started learning more about technology and social media, I’ve been feeling a little bit like I’m one of those characters moving in slow motion while everything around them is whizzing past. Things are changing. Really, really quickly. And I don’t think it’s just because I’m old — most everyone I know is dealing with the changes in technology, whether a new app or mobile device will be the next craze, should they jump into it or wait…or be left behind. We count on people like Amelia to show us the big picture, not just the next new toy.
So we can’t ignore the experts’ predictions, but we need to translate them to our situation. Based on that, here are Amelia’s predictions, with my comments about how they affect grassroots, community and volunteer-run organizations. I’ll do two today and the rest in my next post.
Group discounts and pricing. Group discount sites like Groupon and Living Social exploded this year, but, like first-run movies, took their time getting to the heartland. I tried to write about this phenomenon this fall but neither site had a presence in Green Bay. Now we do — woo-hoo! The idea is, you sign up to receive a discount offer every day. The offer only works if enough people sign up, encouraging people to share it with their friends. The few deals that have been listed on these sites for Green Bay were all local businesses, including the Yoga Center (who sold 86 discount passes to a season of classes), so this leads me to believe that it would be a great idea for local arts organizations IF coordinated with a communications campaign and IF capped or otherwise limited in such a way that you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. And the other thing about discounts and other promotions is that you had good followup is essential to capturing these folks more than once.
Go Mobile or Go Home. In 2010 Wired reported that The Web is Dead. This is big news for those who still haven’t figured out if we should still be using snail mail. Their point is that internet technology is moving more toward apps — single function, mobile applications that can be accessed from an iPad or mobile phone. I’m not sure that we will see a big uptick in creation of apps for individual arts organizations in 2011 other than at the large organizations for whom the investment pays off. But we should all be thinking about how to move beyond a static, information only website or even a static, information only Facebook page to how we can make the access, information and ticket-buying process as streamlined as possible. Apps allow people to perform desired functions quickly and with a minimum of bother. When I finished Book 2 in the Dragon Tattoo series on my Kindle, with three clicks I had downloaded and started Book 3 without ever putting down the device. How can we incorporate the essence of this convenience in relationships with our customers? We’re going to need to find a way, because the app-happy generation won’t have patience with “Box office hours are 9 am to 3 pm.”
That’s enough for today, I’ll tackle the other three trends next time. In the meantime, I need to check my weather app for info on tomorrow’s travel, look up what was on WPR at 11:30 this morning and download the music, and settle in with my Kindle for the evening.