Sunday, February 25, 2007

Social Media Art

Speaking of reaching a younger market, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts has employed social media to reach younger patrons.

Two interns are blogging about their experiences working at KIA. They also have set up social media sites at the two most popular online locations, My Space and Facebook.

Social media started as a way for individuals to network. Their phenomenal rise in popularity, particularly after the sought-after teen and 20-something set, got the attention of professionals ranging from corporate marketers to political candidates. It makes sense to use these technologies as promotional tools for the young. But it can be a two-edged sword.

For one, some young people have been cancelling their network site memberships because they don't want to be a target of PR and marketing campaigns. We always have to be careful that we adopt new media in appropriate ways that engage and don't alienate audiences.

But on the other hand, a new study from Ketchum PR and the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California found that social media is extending beyond the youthful to older demographics.

It's another example of the need for PR folks to be ever vigilant about staying current with all the rapidly unfolding media channels, and ensuring that we don't put all our communication eggs in one basket, but maintain an appropriate media mix. It's also important to think not just about reaching people, but having meaningful relationships with them. If we focus on the latter, we run less risk of using new media inappropriately.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure how successful KIA has been. It's early. But it would be interesting to know what their specific, measurable objectives are for this effort, and whether new media helps them accomplish the objectives. For example, are young people paying attention to KIA in these new media, older people, are they attending exhibits, contributing money, volunteering etc?

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