BAM Talks To Fans Like Friends
“We learned to talk like people, not advertisers and to see ourselves in broader contexts. It isn’t just about the show or the event – it’s about the artist, the community, the neighborhood, the background,” Stephen Litner, Director of Digital Media.
BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) whose mission is to be The Home for Adventurous Audiences, Artists and Ideas was challenged to manage the “embarrassment of riches” provided by social media platforms. Using a website redesign as an opportunity to re-think its living brand presence, BAM improved usability and connected all of its sub brands including: Next Wave Festival; BAMcinématek; BAMcafé Live; Eat, Drink & Be Literary; and Get It Out There: Comedy by BAM & IFC
BAM is a multi-arts center located in Brooklyn, New York. For more than 150 years, BAM has engaged global and local communities with world-renowned programming in theater, dance, music, opera, film and much more, BAM showcases the work of emerging artists and innovative modern masters.
As distribution options have moved from fixed to endless — BAM’s single largest challenge in the digital space was to unite all of its disparate programming into a singular flow of communication. To sort out and maximize impact across platforms, BAM uses its content as a “spine” of information to feed all its online and offline publications and social media outreach. Striving to balance high and “low” discussions such as academic review of art forms and animated cartoons, BAM encourages visiting artists to leverage their own social networks to promote appearances at BAM.
The tone of BAM’s communications is anything but promotional. All BAM’s social media is content focused without traditional hard sell approaches i.e. “Don’t miss this show!” “Reviews just in: it’s a hit!” Instead its content – which often begins on the BAM Blog — provides a ready stream of conversational topics to encourage patrons to engage around whatever is going on at BAM.
Stephen Litner, Director of Digital Media says, “It’s all about animating discussion around key performances – our digital and institutional strategies are united!” BAM focuses on providing content patrons can’t get elsewhere including interviews or rehearsals, original video content, and curator comment. Its archival content is rich and dynamic, featuring artist interviews and ephemera from past collaborations with icons like Gertrude Stein and Pina Bausch.
BAM’s approach is eclectic and it uses social media outreach to invite fans and visitors to experience its adventuresome programming however they wish. Seeing itself as a living “shuffle” culture, BAM keeps its brand consistent across all genres of programming. One key BAM insight through this re-designing process was that effective social media engagement will deliver accessibility and service – but not necessarily revenue. BAM focused on keeping traffic flowing and imprinting its brand presence into audiences’ hearts and minds.
Stephen says, “We realized that sophisticated audiences expect more than promotion via their chosen social media interactions. We now approach communications along a patron outreach continuum of touch points – engaging with patrons before and after any production. Talking about what we love makes our audience love it too.”
Social media gives BAM new opportunities to shape things around each event and move customers from interest, to engagement to loyalty. The production is only one of the touch points along an intentional engagement continuum:
Context → Production → Conversation → Community
- BAM creates a platform agnostic constellation of content around its performances
- BAM capitalizes on its knowledge base to engage with audiences across all genres
- Content is a spine of information which feeds BAM’s online and offline publications