The number one cardinal sin of social media

Heather Mansfield wrote a post last week documenting the 10 common mistakes made by nonprofits on social media. Heather lists everything from not adding social icons to your website to not blogging, among others. However, there is one mistake Heather did not list. That is not owning your own audience. Owning your own audience goes back to the very basics of any business development strategy both online and offline. If you don’t own your own audience how do you expect to grow your audience and your business?

Here’s my reply to Heather’s post:

"I think the biggest failing with nonprofits and cultural organisations, is not owning their own audience. Facebook, Twitter and social media networks are fantastic to grow your reach and connect with your audience. But if you don’t own your audience and your audience is based on other services outside your own database; then organizations are not harnessing the potential for social media enough. Gather email addresses everywhere, get to know your audience. Think of each relationship as a long ball game and converse rather than broadcast. Social media is a real boon to the nonprofit sector in terms of time and budget. Owning your audience and building a strategy around the customer journey is the key to success here. The cart before the horse so to speak. Thanks for your post."

When utilising social media think about how you will own your audience, how will you get the most from each interaction. Don’t forget about the real world either. In the past week I have attended two events, a play and a really fine exhibition. In both cases, not one email address was gathered or any testimonials recorded. The play had a full house on the night I attended and the exhibition sold quite a number of pieces. Golden opportunities for continued conversation were lost. In each case, audience members were eager to attend. Any information about these participants were lost at a time easiest to engage with them - at the event.

For nonprofits and all business and cultural organisations, think about linking up your online and offline activities. Own your own audience and don’t continue to make the number one cardinal sin a reality for you.

Image: (CC) owaief89

Promoting the Arts online. Part 3

Here is the final part of my VAI presentation, promoting your work online, devised for Visual Arts Ireland and Belfast Exposed. This  section looks at online platforms and ways to automate and optomise your online activities.

I hope you enjoyed my presentation and thanks for all your comments so far. I am constantly looking for new case studies and organisations to research. So get in touch and we can share learning and best practice. If you would like an in-depth online strategy review for your organisation, then drop me a line at

Here is part one of my presentation, promoting your work online, devised for Visual Arts Ireland and Belfast Exposed. This presentation specifically teaches arts and cultural organisations and professional artists how to promodete their practice and grow their profile effectively online. By looking at your the customer journey and the marketing loop, and by integrating all your touch points online; you can build a very effective, measurable, online strategy. Watch your tribe grow!

This presentation was part of the Visual Arts Ireland professional development series, recorded in Belfast Exposed, April 2011. My thanks to Monica for the invitation. Enjoy.

Promoting your work online - Belfast training


I’m giving a training day in Belfast next week with the VAI on promoting your work online. This course will teach artists and arts organisations how to grow your profile, build your network and promote your work online. I’m delighted to be back in Belfast again as it is always great to catch up with such a lively arts scene.

You can sign up here.

Course: Promoting your work online

Where: Belfast Exposed, the Exchange Place, 23 Donegall Street, Belfast, BT1 2FF

  Date: Apr 14, 2011

 What is it?

This coursse will teach you how to grow your profile, build your network and promote your work online. By using social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Flickr effectively, you can grow your audience and position yourself as an expert in your field. I will use case studies and practical walk throughs to help you get the most from your time online. Time will also be given to set up and test promotional platforms during the session. To finish the day, I will help you develop an easy to use marketing plan to take with you.

Topics I will cover:

Social media trends


Creating an easy to use marketing plan

If you would like to join us on the day here are a few questions to consider:

1. How would you describe your experience and confidence online, beginner, intermediate, advanced?

2. Do you have a Website, Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Flickr, LinkedIn account? Please list all that apply to you.

3. What do you want to achieve from this course?

4. Do you work with any voluntary or national arts organisations/collectives/etc?

5. What are the barriers holding you back form communicating online?

Hope to see you there on the day.


Image (C) Aaron Schmidt