Question: Which arts organizations inspire creativity and innovation through social media?

The #artsmgtchat community had a productive and exciting conversation around social media strategies in the arts last week. As funding cuts and financial issues continue to plague various arts organizations, social media presents an incredible opportunity to connect and engage with new audiences, as well as build community support around the arts. While many arts organizations use tools like Facebook and Twitter for marketing, there are other institutions that are taking these tools to the next level,  thinking creatively and strategically about how social media fits into the overall engagement strategy and long-range plan.

So the question is: “which arts organizations inspire creativity and innovation through social media?” What are some examples of museums, art galleries, arts councils, orchestras, theatres and performing arts centers that use exciting, cutting edge social media strategies? What was special about the organization’s campaign(s)? Did these strategies encourage you to engage with the organization? Perhaps buy tickets to a performance? Or even persuaded you to give a contribution?

To get the conversation started, here are three examples of arts organizations that combine creativity and innovation in social media:

YouTube Symphony Orchestra (YTSO)
YTSO is an amazing initiative where young classical musicians from around the world send their audition videos (on YouTube of course!) to get a seat on the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. In March 2011, 101 musicians from 33 countries were selected to be part of the YTSO and perform at a concert that was streamed live from the Sydney Opera House.

SFMOMA’s strong social media presence landed the museum in Time Magazine’s The 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2012. Time Magazine said: “by providing reviews on exhibitions, and art history facts you might not otherwise know, we’ll put it this way: SFMOMA has mastered the art of twitter.” SFMoMA also launched Story of a Year, an iPad app that offers its annual report using visually engaging multimedia content.

Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA)
IMA is leading art museum that has engaged in successful digital and social media projects, including: Art Babble (collaborative video portal dedicated to high quality content about art and artists), the IMA Blog, TAP: Mobile Application Platform, and Exhibition Microsites. My favorite IMA project is their Dashboard, which showcases museums stats like number of memberships, visitors, Facebook likes, and endowment size. You can access the dashboard here.

In your opinion, which arts organizations inspire creativity and innovation through social media? Feel free to post your comments below, tweet your answer to @artsmgtchat or send us an email at

8 thoughts on “Question: Which arts organizations inspire creativity and innovation through social media?

  1. Great questions! My background is in instrumental music and I am a former symphony orchestra musician, so I have decided to focus my comment on these areas. Two organizations that are particularly well known for their innovation in technology and the arts are the London Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

    The London Symphony uses facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Foursquare, and Live Chat and feature links to these accounts on the organization’s website. They also include photo galleries of audiences and performances, an LSO tour blog, videos, and downloadable programs.
    – The LSO facebook page is “liked” by nearly 44,000 people. It is updated regularly with photos, posts, teasers, performance updates, and links and allows visitors to listen online using Live Stream and Spotify.
    – Their twitter page is also actively updated with witty comments, audience reactions, and links to their YouTube channel (posts are made by LSO musicians, allowing society to feel directly connected to the orchestra!).
    – The London Symphony Orchestra YouTube channel is brimming with activity, featuring videos of individual artists, live performances, behind the scenes action, and even includes a section for viewers to upload their own videos of the LSO! Roughly 8,700 people subscribe to this channel and video views have climbed to more than 5,300,000!
    – The LSO MySpace page includes a link to London Symphony Orchestra Radio online and provides recordings of LSO performances. These selections have thousands of plays (Total plays? Nearly 350,000!) Staying consistent with it’s other media outlets, the MySpace page is updated regularly, featuring a stream of recent uploads.
    – The London Symphony Orchestra on FourSquare offers “tips on cultural London – where to go, what to see and where to eat and drink.” The LSO invites communication and participation as well – “We also spend a lot of time on tour, and want to know your top tips for the cities we visit. Know a great place off the beaten track? Let us know!”

    The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra uses facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. People can connect to the symphony and to fellow BSO fans through “BSO 2.0 Connect With Us” on the organization’s website. This page includes links to their social media profiles and to a collection of BSO recordings on iTunes.
    – BSO on facebook includes videos, recordings, images, concert/event updates, symphony news, opportunities to connect to the conductor, interesting posts related to classical music and composers, audience reactions, and fan comments. The BSO offers listening access through Spotify as well. The page has been “liked” by more than 6,700 people.
    – Baltimore Symphony Orchestra tweets concert reminders, up-coming events, fan comments, audience reactions, promos, and interesting, music-related articles. An image of Marin Alsop, the symphony’s esteemed conductor, in action is featured in the background.
    – The BSO on YouTube includes videos of backstage interviews with musicians, performances/events, season previews, conductor talks, musician conversations, and Webumentaries. They continue to reinforce the conductor’s presence with an image of Marin Alsop in the background. BSO YouTube videos have claimed nearly 140,000 views and over 200 subscribers.

    Social media in the arts has become essential to the communication and “connectivity” of performing arts organizations. Used effectively, social media can help the arts establish personality, authenticity, transparency, and encourage greater audience interactivity and participation. (Let me know if you need any of these terms defined. I would be happy to chat further, regardless!)

    Here’s a helpful infographic from Flowtown – The Small Business Social Media Cheat Sheet:

    Community arts organizations and social media:

    Creative approaches:

    • Excellent examples! We need to cover digital arts strategies again in a future chat with another orchestra management executives. Any specific topics in social media you’d like for me to explore further?

      • Thanks for the response. Definitely! I would be interested to know more about how orchestras are using social media in creative and innovative ways. What has been (un)successful, surprising, and fun for the orchestra managers and audience members? How are orchestras innovating in response to social media (what must they do differently to incorporate social media into management, performances, etc)? What are some of the reasons orchestras have decided NOT to engage in social media?

  2. Pingback: Question: Which arts organizations inspire creativity and innovation through social media? | Mezzaphonically Speaking

  3. Great post! I just spoke on this at the Social Media Club of DC, and mentioned a few of the orchestras who I think are using Twitter effectively.

    It’s been terrific to see these success stories from afar (eg @NYPhil, @LAphil, @SFSymph… @CincySO’s #MozMah, @NashvilleSymphony’s recent Ives work in Carnegie Hall) and to enter these conversations from the @NatPhilharmonic feed which I’m currently maintaining. Ultimately the more connecting we can do with each other, the better we can learn and help to spread great art in as many places as is possible!

    Cheers, @coolmcjazz (aka Jason)

    • Thanks so much for the comment and video! I am starting my master’s capstone project and would like to explore the use of social media in fundraising and marketing by symphony orchestras. Thoughts, recommendations, trends to consider? Thanks again, Jason!

  4. Pingback: Question: Which arts organizations inspire creativity and innovation … | The Arts Media

  5. Excellent post at Question: Which arts organizations inspire creativity and innovation through social media? #artsmgtchat. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very useful information specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such information much. I was looking for this particular info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

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