Technology in the Arts, hereafter referred to as Tech, a program within the Carnegie Mellon Center for Arts Management and Technology, recently posted an interesting question on their blog.
After asking the followers on their LinkedIn group essentially ‘why are you here, what do you hope to use this group for, and what can you learn from it?’, the group’s followers were so intrigued that they received a whopping TWO responses, one of which was from me. Understandably, the administrator for the post was perplexed.
This lack luster response seemed to act as a catalyst for their blog posting about the lack of interaction occurring within arts groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. In the posting on their blog, after referencing their lackluster response on LinkedIn, Tech posed the following questions:
So why do organizations have hundreds of passive fans? Why do groups have thousands of silent members? Are these people hoping to be spoon-fed information in the manner of an RSS reader (and if so, why are they not viewing news items)? Are they overwhelmed by irrelevant postings (e.g. the self-promotional posts that verge on spam)? Intimidated because they are actually not quite clear whether what they have to contribute will be judged as valuable or not?
At the end of their posting they ask, what I feel, is the most important question of the whole post:
And what does this lack of interaction mean for the buzz about social media being a non-profit organization’s new best friend?
In addressing the first quote, I feel the passiveness encountered in online social media is a product of a number of things. I will address a couple here. First, The majority of people are joining a group/cause or becoming a fan of something merely because they agree with it, or they are friends with the person who created it. I am just as guilty of it. I joined the Facebook group, “Save the Whales” because I mean, come on, who doesn’t wanna save the whales? Am I passionate enough about it to engage in online discussions? No. That is probably why I ultimately, after the “feel good” feeling went away, I left the group. I wasn’t REALLY committed to the cause in the way the group creator was.
Second, people generally want to be spoon-fed information. It is easier, faster, and frankly less intellectually taxing. (That last one is not a compliment). However, one can’t really blame people all that much. We as a society are more bombarded than ever with constant demands for our attention. I wouldn’t be surprised if, while reading this blog, many of you are also listening to music or watching television. It’s okay, I do it too. The point is, fewer and fewer people are effectively and proactively interacting in ways that amount to no more than a “thumbs up” or an “i like this”. That is the extent of their thought process. Bam! Done! On to the next thing. Sorry, but that is not interacting or communicating. That is voyeurism with a comment box.
At the end of Tech’s post, wherein they essentially ask the question, ‘what does this mean for social media being a non-profit’s new best friend?”, I found myself thinking just that. What does this mean for non-profits hoping to gain both supporters and their coveted charitable dollars via online platforms such as Facebook’s “Causes” application? What does this mean for arts groups who hope to use Facebook and Twitter as an effective means to gain new fans, and more importantly, patrons?
The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park has 273 fans on its Facebook page. I wonder how many of those fans have actually attended a concert, and of those who have attended, who have attended more than once. It’s a curious question, but an important one if we are to determine the effectiveness of using social networking for the purposes of sustaining arts organizations and non-profits alike.
To get a full picture of what Tech is trying to say, I recommend reading the entire posting. I have chosen to comment on select paragraphs that I think are important.
If you’ve made it this far, CONGRATULATIONS! Now, show me how much you’ve learned, and tell me your thoughts… please?