Sunday, 9 June 2013

What does your Twitter bio say about you?

An interesting question posed by Vishalakshi Roy.

Have you ever wondered what your Twitter bio says about you? More importantly, does it say what you want it to say or was it put together for a different purpose?

When I signed up to Twitter (circa 2009) and needed to change the egg to a photo and the blank space to 140 characters about myself, I was confused about where to make a start. Being a researcher by nature, I looked through more than a few bios before I wrote my own. I asked my friends (some of who worked in marketing) for their suggestions and then started stringing some random bits of information about myself together. Someone advised me to write the bio based on what I was going to tweet about. Interesting, but I didn’t know back then what I was going to tweet about! My main dilemma - is this about me or about what I do? And then the big question - is what I do who I am?

Taking the quick and dirty research approach, a cursory look through the bios of the people I follow on Twitter, I am struck by how many of them start with their job role – more often than not their job title and for some their role i.e. manager, facilitator, researcher. Many are quickly qualified with the disclaimer (maybe imposed by the comms department) that all views are indeed their own and not representative of their employers. It is interesting that these people have chosen to seek and then dissociate affiliation to an organisation in just 140 characters!

This examination also raised some other interesting questions. As Twitter is all about networks, how important is it to have clues in our bio about the social group or network you want to belong to? Do we need to have the word culture, arts, or the name of the cultural organisations we work with, in your Twitter bio? If it was not included, would we feel ostracised from these networks? Also, if our Twitter bio is an important part of our overall online identity, do we need to think beyond the social group we want to belong to? I think social identity theory (a current research interest of mine) which examines how people derive identities from their roles, the groups they belong to, and their personal characteristics, could offer clues on how we can go about building online identities.

If you would rather not spend time pondering about all this but are still in need of a Twitter bio this, help is at hand. We now live in a world with countless Twitter bio generators and tips to create that extra special, attention grabbing, rib tickling bio you always knew you could write. As we compose this short personal statement, it may be useful to think about some of the uses of the bios. Have a look at the exciting data mining work being done by Dr Andy Pryke using Twitter bios.

So back to the question of what do we put in your Twitter bio, is it who we are or what we do?  I went with my interests and preoccupations. What I do does not currently figure in the bio and it has not had any adverse effects so far! How did you make this identity altering decision?  Answers on a postcard (or in the comments box below) please!

Vishalakshi Roy is a PhD student at Warwick Business School, Module Leader at The Centre for Cultural Policy, University of Warwick and Founder and Director of Earthen Lamp. Views are most definitely her own! 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Social Media takes the stage

Thanks to Stephanie Pickerill who contacted me with the following blog post, exploring how social media and digital technologies can be used in performance. This post focuses on the work Stephanie is currently doing as Social Media Manager for IJAD Dance Company and the In-Finite project. If you have any experiences of using social media in performance, please feel free to post a comment below

The tradition of sitting quietly in a darkened auditorium and clapping politely when the curtain comes down is less than two hundred years old. Many performance venues are asking why social media is so important, surely its just another form of marketing? Can social media blur the lines between the performance and the audience? Can it be used as part of the performance itself?

The In-Finite project hopes to explore some of these questions. IJAD Dance Company has been integrating new technology into performance for 13 years.  In-Finite started with user generated content gathered from around the globe. The theme of In-Finite is secrets and the performance is comprised of over 100 (give yours @shhh2013). Twitter and Facebook are used as part of the creative interpretive process (think of a camera – turn on the flash and you are using technology in an interpretive manner as part of creativity). Rehearsals are being streamed over the internet and public screenings are being set up in other countries. A promenade performance work is being created where audiences are asked to turn on their mobile phones and photograph, tweet and share what they see. Conversations can happen – not in the theatre bar with a few people – but around the world with everyone.

Social media also opens the theatre to more people. We are transcending access needs by accessing those who can’t leave the house for reasons such as disability and time constraints. Audiences, online and in the theatre itself will be asked to donate secrets, tweet, share and comment as the durational performance is going on. And photography is strictly allowed.

By using these new opportunities of communication – instant, one-off exchanges that take less than 140 characters (or 6 seconds with my new love – Vine) – offer an alternative to staring, faceless audiences.  The In-Finite project asks people to donate secrets (how anathemic to social media!) in order that a dancer might interpret it, all amounting to a performance, streamed all over the world. Audience participation which isn’t threatening, a marriage of new technology and creative, responsive, accessible art.

For more information about the In-Finite project, take a look at these links:

Blog post - "Let's talk about the Arts and Social Media"
More about the performance
Donate your secret
Watch on UStream 
IJAD Dance Company on Facebook
IJAD Dance Company on Twitter

Thursday, 15 November 2012

How do we solve a problem like Facebook...?

Last week I gave a presentation at the Tessitura UK conference on my home turf at the RSC. I was given the title of  "Trends in Social Media" which filled me a small amout dread as I'm not really a trend watcher/setter (most definitely not a setter!).

After much contemplation about what to include in a presentation which would ideally provoke discussion, I decided to lead with the changes that have recently been made to Facebook - namely promoted posts and the Edgerank algorithm.

Both of these things entered my radar a few weeks ago via an excellent online seminar with Katie Moffat, run by the Arts Marketing Association. As a Facebook user, I was becoming more frustrated as to why my feed was increasingly being filled with the things that Facebook thinks I'm going to like, rather than the updates from friends and brands that I have actively "liked" and who's updates I want to see. I didn't like that Facebook was making assumptions about the "news" in my News Feed.

At the same time, as an Admin of Facebook Page for a cultural brand, I had started to notice that the number of people seeing our posts was declining (we have 35,000 fans, but between 1.5 - 4K were seeing posts).

Over the past 5 years, we've worked hard at creating and maintaining Facebook Pages, building the number of Facebook Likes organically, and Facebook has proved an invaluable communication tool for many arts organisations. However, the introduction of promoted posts and Edgerank has meant that extending the reach of our Facebook posts is now increasingly difficult and potentially costly, especially when you consider the costs associated with using Facebook's promoted posts function. A quick calculation shows that the RSC's annual spend could be up to £78,000, to reach our existing Facebook audience - (crazy money for any organisation that's a registered charity).

The "Sponsored Posts" on Facebook, are becoming increasingly prominent, and from what I've seen in my own Facebook Newsfeed, being dominated by big brands (I keep seeing Amazon and

What should we do?

Since learning more about Edgerank, I've actively changed the way that we use Facebook at the RSC - the main change being posting a lot more photos with status updates, making them more "share-able" and sticky - in an attempt to increase the number of people seeing each post. Although I'm struggling to figure out an exact science to this, and the only true way of now extending our Facebook reach is by allocating Marketing spend to promoted posts - which I'm hoping to do in the next few weeks.

The future of Facebook

I would hope that Facebook will listen to its users, who are becoming less happy with what was once a social platform with a little bit of advertising, to an advertising platform with a little bit of social.

Are Facebook users going to vote with their feet and move to using other social platforms (namely Google Plus). There was some talk about Google Plus at Tessitura UK, but are our audiences on there yet? (that's a discussion for another blog post).

We could look towards collectively lobbying Facebook to consider the non-profits and small businesses that have been using the site, sharing creative and interesting content for many years. Are we drowning in the Facebook noise, being forgotten in favour of big spending advertisers? Google have Google Grants, YouTube offers non-profit channels, Facebook really needs to follow suit if it wants us to stick around.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Google AdWords Strategies for Arts Marketing

First up, an apology for recent blog abandonment, there's no excuses for poor blog upkeep, but it's been busy times.

I've been sitting on this guest blog post for a while, so apologies to the very lovely Katie Saxon who wrote it a few months ago. I first met Katie a few years ago when she interned at the RSC and helped me to set up the RSC Facebook Page. She's now a certified Google Adwords expert, and has kindly shared some of her knowledge with us artsy marketing folk - thanks Katie!

Now that Google Grants has hit the UK, arts marketers are starting to consider making PPC (pay per click) a part of their digital marketing mix.

Personally, I think this couldn’t have happened soon enough. By ignoring pay per click you’re missing out on a highly measurable and cost effective traffic source.

Here are some strategies that arts organisations might use with Google AdWords:

I need to raise brand awareness
Use the Display Network – this allows you to place text or image adverts on relevant websites, like The Stage and The Independent.

Traffic from the Display Network is usually lower, but so are costs, and an eye-catching branded ad may help to raise your profile.

If you have the budget, also use Google Search to bid on your brand name. Even if you already rank at #1, you may get as much as 50%more clicks through to your website by advertising too.

I need to sell tickets
Use Google Search and group keywords by stage of the buying cycle. Set lower bids for keywords in the early stages and gradually increase bids as they move up the buying cycle.
E.g.       “London theatre May” bid £0.20
“travelling light reviews” bid £0.45
“travelling light tickets voucher codes” bid £0.75

With your keywords grouped by buying cycle stage it should be easy to write an ad that is appropriate to searchers’ needs. Try some of the following tips to write compelling ads:

·         Use the keywords in the ad text.
·         Be clear that you are the official source (symbols like ©™ can help).
·         Show your prices.
·         Try including a special offer or voucher code.
·         Think about your audience – what benefits & features do they care about?
·         Use ad extensions to increase the size of your ad – sitelinks are a must.
·         Don’t forget to follow up on the promises you make in the ad on the landing page. You may have an existing page that’s suitable, but if not create one.

I need to make the most of existing traffic
Try remarketing. These are Display Network ads that “follow you” around the internet after you visit a site without buying. They do get bad press, but can deliver great returns for minimal spend.

If you try it, remember to set a frequency cap so that your ad only shows a few times a day. People are most likely to convert 24 – 72 hours after visiting a site, so while you can target them for 30 days, you probably shouldn’t.

Remarketing becomes an issue when people feel like they’re being stalked. Be considerate and target users with a compelling offer and you should see good results.

If I had to give just one piece of advice to new AdWords users it would be quite simply: assume nothing, test everything. It’s so easy to pause what doesn’t deliver that you’ll quickly learn what works for you.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Links to useful things

I've been clicking the Favourite button on Twitter frequently, creating a massive reading I thought I'd share some of the things I've come across. Also, if you're interested in the world of Google Ads and pay per click look out for a new guest blog post next week.

First up is a blog post from my former colleague, Mary Butlin. Mary now runs her own company, Tonica, and was recently asked to assess different cloud CRM systems. Usefully, she's shared her findings on here blog:

Queen Victoria's personal diaries are now available for all to read online. I wonder how she would feel about this? Just need to find time to read it now! Will a Kindle edition be available?

From Mashable (so most of you have probably seen it already!) a new Facebook Page insight reporting the % of fans who really see your post - more here.

I had a play with Email on Acid the other day - checking how your emails display in different email clients and browsers (there's a free version. Weirdly, Wordfly (the email system we use at the RSC) incorporated this service today.

It took just a week to get a Google Grant for the RSC (free daily advertising on Google Adwords). If you work for a charity and want to give Google Ads a go, it's definitely worth an hour of your time filling out the paperwork and setting up your account. And look out for some expert Google Ads advice coming to Cultural Tweeters soon.

Happy reading!



Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Changing Time(s)lines - getting to know your new Facebook Page

Yesterday I began to prepare the RSC Facebook Page for the inevitable switch over to Timeline at the end of the month. I had been ignoring the message at the top of the page for a few days, but wanted to tackle it sooner rather than later, and hopefully get a witty Cover Photo sorted for the launch.

If you do run a Facebook Page I'd suggest taking a look at this change soon, as I found that there's plenty to get your head around.

For the Pages I run I have two main concerns (which may be resolvable, I just don't know how yet):

- Missing posts from members of the public. With nearly 30K fans, we tend to get independent wall posts daily. As far as I'm aware the new timeline function doesn't allow you to order all posts chronologically, and I'm concerned that we may miss something (whether that's a question, general comment or a complaint). The Admin Panel does list activity, but this includes every "like" (of which, I'm proud to say, we have many) - spotting the more important stuff could prove to be tricky, especially at busy times, or when there's been a popular post.

- Private messages. As great as it is that our customers can now contact us directly (and privately) via Facebook, I really hope that this function doesn't take off, mainly because I don't want to have to deal with an onslaught of messages from people wanting to know how they can get an audition, or whether we can promote their show.

Another thing I found out today, which is worth noting if you're a marketer, is that you cannot use the Cover Photo slot at the top of the page for offers, promotions or ads. You also can't have something text based (as I was planning), it has to be an image.

In my afternoon quest to figure all this out I've come across some useful articles/blog posts, which you may find useful too:

28 Things You Need to Know About The New Facebook Pages - via @ChrisUnitt

Facebook Brand Timelines: 6 Big Changes Every Marketer Needs To Understand

Getting Ready for Timeline - via @jack_mu

So, as this month of The Great Facebook Page Timeline Changeover I thought that this blog could potentially serve as a changeover help group - can't figure something out, got a gripe, or just want a hand getting started, post your question below and hopefully someone out there will know the answer. Similarly, if you have any tips and discoveries you would like to share post those too. Think of this blog post as the Facebook Help Page, but better :-)

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Social Media and the artist

Happy New Year from Cultural Tweeters! To kick start 2012 we have a new blog post for your reading pleasure. Marcus Lilley has blogged about using social media as an Artist.

A little bit about Marcus

Emerging Theatre Maker Marcus is an artist who uses mobile and social technologies to develop immersive and interactive durational performances which put the audience at the core of a social experience. He is also at present setting up his own business as a social and mobile media consultant to the Arts and cultural sector.

And here's the blog post...

Social Media first really burst onto the consciousness of the Arts community as a communication tool as something to enhance the Public Relations / Marketing wing of Arts Organisations and continue to improve audience relationships. As an Artist, these developments and the high amount of press attention and urgency to take Social Media has left an empty space behind: How are Artists using Social Media and what are the possibilities for Artists?

For most of 2011 (January - September 2011) I was completing my MA in Professional Contemporary Arts Practice at the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA) and preparing for our MA Festival ‘Process at Play’. Throughout the course of our MA we had a lot of time to experiment, proto-type and try out ideas that we had and it was through this period of experimentation that I began to explore ideas of how to use Social Media in relation to theatrical performance.

What started the ball rolling for me was a very interesting article in WIRED Magazine called: ‘Transmedia:EntertainmentReimagined

In the article it gives a summary of what entertainment organisations in America were doing using the idea of Transmedia (Transmedia in summary is multi-platform storytelling i.e. delivering a story through multiple outlets such as live performance, texting, video). This immediately struck me as a very exciting avenue to pursue because it was allowing the viewer / audience to participate / be involved in a project through a number of different avenues.

The reason it struck me was because I’m interested in following a number of different things artistically: The language / look of Film Noir, Interactive Theatre, Mobile technologies, Photography and so in the early months of my MA I found it difficult to coherently describe practice in a language that was satisfactory.

Through many months of experimentation and research, I first presented my work at Contact Theatre in Manchester as part of their festival ‘Lost and Found’. The performance was based on the 1944 Film Noir ‘Double Indemnity’ and invited audiences to follow the central character through his Twitter page, where he would post photographs and provide a daily dose of tweets. Emails were also sent as well as text messages at specific intervals so the audience were engaged throughout the performance and participation (as much or as little as the audience wanted to) was not just a possibility but completely integral to the performance.

By the time the it was our festival ‘Process at Play’ it had gone through many months of trial and error and the performance involved: photography, a live character Twitter feed, emails, text messages and an Art Exhibition.

On the opening night of the festival, the central character Harry Marshall presented a fictional exhibition ‘The Darkened City’ where people could see his photographs. Later that evening audience members received texts and emails from Harry and then as the week unravelled, a narrative brought in other characters and implicated Harry in a murder plot.

For more information please visit my blog:

Terms such as ‘Transmedia’ ‘Social Media Art’ ‘Immersive’ ‘Interactive’ may all seem alien and tricky to get your head around. This is what makes the possibiltiies for investigating Social and Mobile technologies so fasincating from a creative standpoint. The fact that these technologies such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Audioboo, Skype are all centered around communication, they provide a perfect platform for communicating a narrative between artists and audiences. The fact they are free and can be used on mobile devices and desktops make them all the more exciting.

We as Artists like to explore, play and challenge what is around us. With the growth and development of Social Networks and mobile technologies they present a wealth of opportunities to investigate the possibilities for performances and art works because there are no rules, no conventions, the sky is our limit.