Social Media followers
Many of the ATN festivals already used social media to widen their reach beyond the traditional marketing channels. However, combining this with the work of the festival Ambassadors, and their natural affinity for networking, opened up new channels for engagement. Birmingham Ambassadors created a blog which enabled them to act as the voice of the festival Bradford’s Ambassador Coordinator made use of Storify – a social media platform which draws together content from other channels (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) – to create a narrative around an event Bradford Festival produced videos to tell the Ambassador stories, and promote the festival, which were featured on the BBC Big Screen in Bradford city centre Appetite piloted Appetite TV, an Ambassador-led initiative where they interviewed audience members immediately after the shows to engage directly with the festival’s audience and to gather feedback. These videos were uploaded online and promoted the activities and shows taking place Freedom Festival supported a freelance journalist to deliver training in broadcast techniques to Ambassadors Festival Ambassadors attended a workshop, delivered by the National Association of Street Artists as part of its Reclaim the Streets project, which encouraged critical debate and artistic discussion around the topic of Outdoor Art Community Correspondents Freedom Festival, Hull Freedom Festival, Hull created a Community Correspondent scheme, devised as a means of promoting the artistic programme to the public, as well as charting the journeys of new audiences from participant through to festival attender. Freedom Ambassadors were provided with training by a freelance broadcast journalist which equipped them with the journalistic, technical skills, and confidence to carry out live interviews. This training was put to the test when the Community Correspondents attended Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, where they interviewed Without Walls company Periplum, prior to their headline performance of The Bell at Freedom Festival. The Correspondents also made a series of audio stories for broadcast and online streaming, in which participants of the Voices of Freedom workshops were interviewed to tell the story of why they chose to take part, and what they had created for Freedom Festival. The interviews provided a resource for the festival and were made available on the festival website as well as being featured on BBC Radio Humberside. Signal Radio and Taster Tour Appetite Stoke In 2014 Signal Radio, the main local radio station for Staffordshire and Cheshire, featured interviews with artists who were performing at The Big Feast, Appetite’s Outdoor Arts festival. Every day in the week prior to The Big Feast, the radio show featured a preview of the performances, where the hosts spoke to artists and discussed their shows on air. The festival found that audiences and footfall grew throughout the week. This led to the Big Feast Taster Tour being created the following year, which took a smaller, more succinct, programme of shows directly into areas of low engagement.
Bell Square, who joined the ATN in 2016, focused their activity on developing a social media presence to increase awareness of their events.
In 2016, they developed a Bell Square Bloggers programme, which offered training in content production and social media. Bell Square worked with five volunteer bloggers who wrote content for their website, as well as the bloggers’ own social media feeds. In 2017, Bell Square recruited two established London bloggers to publish articles and engage with their followers about the events at Bell Square. They also engaged five volunteer social media bloggers and a social media intern to increase their presence online and held training sessions with digital agency Home of Social.
In the final year of the project, Bell Square recruited a community manager to create content and engage with audiences. They also increased their Instagram followers and continued their blogger programme with both established and volunteer bloggers. One of these bloggers was engaged to create Polish content.
“The investment in a tailored audience development strategy over a 3-year period has been invaluable in allowing us to build skills and traction against a social media-driven approach. We have had 3 years to test and learn and we now feel confident of reaching out to new and hard to reach audiences.”
Jan Lennox, Bell Square (2018)
In 2017, SO Festival in Skegness recruited several young Ambassadors to undertake pre-festival promotion, assist with artist and audience support and create social media content during the festival. In Stoke on Trent, building on the success of Karl’s artist videos in 2016 and 2017, Appetite worked with digital ambassador Louisa who is autistic and has experienced mental health difficulties to create content for social media.
Learning… Where social media is considered a key tool for communication with and promotion to audiences, it is vital to be clear what the target and purpose of creating and ‘broadcasting’ social media content is, as well as having a plan to evaluate its impacts. While all festivals used social media, fewer could track its impacts.