Survey data reveals St. Louis ahead of national averages in use and adoption of social media

Trudel | MacPherson has begun a national rollout tour, presenting initial results of our How Strong is Your Social Net? survey and leading workshops with groups of arts organizations that took the survey as members of regional collaboratives.

The first presentation took place in St. Louis in late May under the auspices of the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission (RAC), the largest arts funder in the region. A number of RAC grantees were among the first to take the survey during our baseline capture period in which select arts groups — grantees of local conveners or members of service organizations — were invited to take the survey prior to its full national launch, when the survey was opened to all arts organizations.

Mary Trudel and Jai Sen present initial survey findings to the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission.

During the two hour session Rory, Mary and digital media strategist Jai Sen of Sen Associates, the combined team who developed and have been fielding the How Strong is Your Social Net? study, presented findings and implications about the St. Louis RAC respondents and compared them with early trends from the national sample.  Attendees received a digital communications matrix planning tool — Strengthening Your Social Net — and participated in a workshop designed to improve and integrate organizations’ communications strategies and audience engagement plans.

An early review of the national data – more than 1,400 groups have taken the survey to date — shows most respondents achieved at least some degree of results from using digital and social media, with some reporting major successes or that digital and social tools have become “mission critical” to their organizations. Email continues to rule as the communications tool used most heavily and frequently, with growing numbers using Facebook, Twitter, and other online channels.

National data also revealed that a number of challenges remain. Across the board, results to date show that groups are missing opportunities to target and engage with audiences.  More than half of the respondents admit to using social media just like traditional media and “blanketing” outreach rather than tailoring communications.  Also, over half of national respondents reported not changing anything based on audience feedback, indicating missed opportunities for audience interaction.

St. Louis’ survey responses showed major results – higher than national averages – in building live participation via social media outreach.  They’re also ahead of the national curve in developing fan networks and are focused on delivering video-based content and experiences significantly more often than the national sample.

T | M focused on three arts organizations using the interactive planning tool:

  • Mike Venso, Director of Communications at Laumeier Sculpture Park, commented during the session, “Social media, like any marketing component, will not succeed if it tries to be all things to all people.”
  • Debra Cummings, Marketing and Promotions Coordinator of the Missouri History Museum said that she, like many organizations, benefit from convenings and opportunities to share knowledge: “I learned so much of what I know about social media from talking with my peers at presentations like yours, so I can truly say that what you’re doing is very valuable.”
  • Jennifer Stoffel, Director of External Affairs the St. Louis Art Museum, agreed that integrating digital and social media into a holistic communications strategy and policies is crucial. “I believe there is a real difference between goals set by transactional operations vs. institutional reputation management.”

Has someone from your organization taken the survey yet? If not, please do so now! The survey is open to national respondents for the rest of the summer, and we would like to make sure you’re represented.

Watch this space for updates on our other presentations and workshops, and contact us if you would like to speak with us about doing one for you.

Date City Venue
May 17, 2011 St. Louis St. Louis Regional Arts Council

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