He talks about going to a conference about online interaction and discovering that the real interaction took place on the ground, with the people rather than in the brand-heavy conference space or its associated online space.
It led me to think about what we actually use social media for. There are so many of us (myself included at times) who spend hours online being ‘social’. We’re sharing ideas about digital media, we’re talking about building Facebook pages, we’re updating each other on the status of our websites. The trouble is, does any of it actually mean anything?
From my point of view marketing the arts, I know I need to be using the online social space to communicate about and around the physical experience of live art that we present. There are some brilliant online projects, like the RSC’s Such Tweet Sorrow project, an online telling of the story of Romeo and Juliet, but the main bulk arts events and performances are offline, relying on a very tangible interaction between performer, audience, people and a space.
We use the digital to help us build communities, and to facilitate interactions that may not be possible when relying solely on the people on the ground, but at the end of the day it’s still a community that we’re building. By the same metrics as Documentally’s conference experience, it is not enough for an arts organisation to have 10,000 followers on Twitter. If we’re not socialising within our online community enough that they become our offline community (i.e. paying audience) then we’re not using the tools correctly.
At the end of the day social media websites and new technologies are just tools. It’s up to us to actually be social.