Arts organizations are ideally suited for the Internet. By definition, they are content creators, with plenty of “cool stuff” to draw from. Also by definition, they appeal to a specific interest group, giving them a built in audience of fans, attendees, and supporters, all of whom can comprise an loyal online community.
Yet, the websites of many A&E companies and organizations are often as exciting as those for CPA’s, Wholesale Office Supplies or UV piping. They are using the same generic template systems and SEO strategies that most business use and are squandering an enormous opportunity to engage their audience on a deeper level.
The Arts are not like other businesses. People are drawn to arts and entertainment sites because the subject matter is, well…entertaining. This is one area where “fun” makes good business sense. Even if you start out with a template based content management system, it’s worth the added expense to customize the site so that it reflects the personality of your company and your productions.
Recreate the Art Experience — The online world is all about the “user experience.” Your audiences’ first contact with your company and/or productions, will probably happen on the Internet. Whether it is a website, a social media page or an email newsletter, it needs to reflect the art experience in some way and give visitors a taste of what they will see/feel/hear when they attend your event or visit you “in real life.”
If the site is promoting a play the site’s interface can mirror elements of the set or if the production has a distinctive ad campaign, that campaign can be worked into the site’s design. Content elements such as performances videos, audience reactions, photos, reviews, painting, sculptures, articles can also be sources of compelling content.
Speak Their Language — Many visitors to your site are passionate about your art, they are predisposed to like what they see. The tone of the content should be more personable and less formal than one would find on a purely business site. No marketing jargon! Write in a concise, conversational tone using words and phrases that will resonate with the target audience.
Keeping Content Fresh — Since you’re continually producing new material, keep the cool stuff coming. It will give members of your online audience a reason to return to the site on a regular basis and will give your search engine rankings a continual boost.
One Site Does Not Fit All – Create “Micro-Sites” or special sections for individual events, ditto for your Development efforts. The Micro-Sites allow you to create specific content for specific niche audiences. In addition, they will create a separate set of SEO rankings for the specific event and make tracking interest, and sales, easier.