As we close the book on 2018 and open a new edition for 2019, the world of arts marketing and marketing in general continues its furious pace, with most of us trying to keep up with our daily responsibilities all while new technology and insights come at us at a greater velocity than ever. So, what exactly are the trends we should be keeping an eye on for 2019?
Data, Data, Data
Macrotrends such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are being incorporated at scale across the globe, but have yet to trickle down to the day-to-day workings of arts organizations. And while it may be several years until they move from cutting edge to best practices, there are still lessons we can learn from those on the bleeding edge of technology.
Driven by the power of data and realized through Google and Amazon, more and more marketing and communication is being customized and personalized for the customer’s benefit. As a trend only in its very earliest stages, it is one that the larger arts institutions are already incorporating in their planning, and before long will be at our doorstep. Watch for new ways to engage your audience and deliver the right content in the most effective and efficient manner in the coming months, as marketing continues the trend from art to science.
2018 was probably a year to forget at Facebook headquarters, but in no way does it lessen the Zuckerbergian influence on the tactics of arts marketers. We should be mindful of changes that will eventually come to reign in the expansive reach of Facebook and the data they collect and harbor. Either by the will of the general public or mandate of regulators, you can already see potential constraints meant to protect users’ privacy; but in the meantime, Facebook remains the conduit to reach vast numbers of the arts’ most ardent supporters.
The trend in Facebook from the heady days of “free love” have been replaced with a techno-media giant that, similar to the print and broadcast relics of yesteryear, relies solely on the money of advertisers and marketers to fuel its growth and innovation. If you do not have a substantial budget for supporting your social media plan or do not have a full time social media specialist working to harness the almighty algorithms, time spent on curating and cultivating your online presence may not have the impact nor the results you desire.
Around the maturing world of social media as Instagram continues to grow, Snapchat seems to stumble, politicians and superstars tweet, and YouTube reaches for 2 billion users, there are microtrends that keep us on our toes waiting for the next innovation. One only can imagine what’s in store for us over the coming twelve months.
One trend that continues to grow in popularity across all levels of marketers is that of influencers. The original concept of influencers—individuals who use their position of fame (or infamy) to influence followers on social media—has morphed into the micro-influencer phenomenon. Micro-influencers by definition are those with less than 10,000 followers on social media outlets, and now have become the rage of marketers who want to unlock the secrets to the social media box.
Think of influencers and micro-influencers as the new version of the tried-and-true “celebrity spokesperson.” In most cases these relationships can work, but only if you are willing to put the time into developing the relationship as a win-win for organization and artist.
In any community, we know there are certain individuals who have the ability to lead and help us in our causes. The power of influencers is the ability to identify those who are passionate enough about you and your organization to become part of it and share their network with you. More than a quid pro quo arrangement, welcoming a micro-influencer into your marketing team can be extremely beneficial as you are able to connect with demographic and psychographic groups that are similar to your core audience base, but also allows you to develop new and meaningful relationships that will benefit everyone equally.
Arts and nonprofit marketers have long sought the support of influential people in the community to support their efforts. What gala or annual campaign would be a success without the well-connected, well-respected honorary chairperson? This is essentially the concept behind micro-influencers and we should already have a comfort in dealing with this aspect of relationship building. Watch for arts organizations to spend more time building influencer partnerships with artists themselves—as who better to lead audiences to the newest exhibit, concert, performance, or event than a well-respected artist?
Community is another trend we see becoming more important in the arts world around us. While community has always been there, a better definition of community is where the trend is leading us.
Community tends to be an all-encompassing word, but in terms of your strategic plan, community might mean different things for the work you do, the work you dream to do, the impact you have, or the impact your benefactors want you to have. Community could be the neighborhoods you intend to reach who are currently untapped, underserved, or in some cases unreachable. Community for the organization could be everyone who is currently attending, supporting, or otherwise benefitting from the service you provide to artists, residents, and guests.
Defining the artistic community is another variation on a theme. Who is included in your local or regional arts community? Do you include all artists, arts organizations, arts educators, academia, attendees, supporters? And the list goes on. If you are in a geographically expansive area, perhaps community means the downtown versus the suburbs versus the rural area of your region. Let’s not forget your online community, where everyone has a voice but can be left by the wayside if your posts don’t show up in their feed.
All can be defined as community, and all must be serviced by your organization—so defining what community means to your organization can allow you to begin the difficult work of prioritization and becoming more focused in what methods you use to strengthen and grow all the important communities associated with your organization.
Other trends such as intentionality, Generation Z, and creative placemaking will marry up with 20th century constructs like brand, service, and loyalty to bring a little old to a little new.
I hope I’ve given you a small sample of the trends and topics that will be top of mind as we go into the new year. Join me on January 10 for the ArtsU webinar Arts Marketing Trends A-Z: 2019 Edition webinar and get a look at trends in Arts Marketing for 2019. Register today and get the New Year off to a great start!