What is Social Media to you?

To better educate myself on the involvement of arts organizations in social media, I attended SMart CAMP at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City, the weekend of February 6th and 7th.  I was paying for the trip myself, I had around $25 left in my checking account, so I could only sign-up for one half-day session.  I chose the Saturday February 5th morning session.

I thought, this will give me enough time to see the presentations most relevant to my social media platforms and communities, and to hear from Marc Schiller of the Wooster Collective, one of my favorite online art sites.

SMart CAMP

The Roger Smith Hotel is a small hotel in midtown Manhattan, close to Grand Central Station.  I arrived early and had coffee and a croissant.  I started chatting with a few people and met Paulette Beete, a communications specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The NEA is beginning a twitter account and we talked about social media, art events we were planning on attending over the weekend, and the Oscars. She was very cool, I am hoping to interview her on my blog during the summer.

Marc Schiller’s presentation talked about his website, facebook group, and twitter. These are all joint ventures with his wife Sarah Schiller.  He specifically noted that he does not advertise on the Wooster Collective website because of a few reasons:

1. As the “curator” of the site, visitors should be directed to look at the art displayed there, and not an ad.

2. We (Marc and Sarah) already have a job,  blogging and social media should be fun, not work.

3. We don’t want to censor posts, either consciously or subconsciously, to appease advertisers.

4. We don’t care about blog traffic.

5. We aren’t really sure if we’re that “good” at social media.

I really got his presentation.  I have thought about whether to include advertising on my blog, it could generate some cash, which I do need, but it would also change the whole look and feel of the blog.  I don’t like reading blogs with ads, so I thought, why would I do that to people reading my blog? I am also completely unsure whether I am any “good” at social media, I like it, it’s fun, so I will keep doing it, but one of my reasons for attending this conference was to get a handle on what I should be doing with social media.

We next heard from two artist’s about how they promote and sell their work online with Ebay, Etsy, Blogs, Twitter, and Kickstarter. Molly Crabapple posted her entire lecture on her website: http://mollycrabapple.com/2010/03/29/194/

The following speaker was Allegra Burnette, the creative director at MoMA in digital media.  She told a hilarious story about how MoMA first started a facebook page, only to realize a high school student had already started a MoMA facebook page as an assignment for a marketing class.  The student was contacted, and he gladly merged his page with theirs.  The student is now an intern at MoMA in the digital media department.  It’s the stuff of social media urban legend, and I love it.

She spoke of initiatives at MoMA with iTunesU and ArtBabble.  She noted how their facebook, twitter, and youtube site all work synergistically.  They have asked different departments for content for the Inside/Out Blog  and seperate content by day, for example, Friday is “design day”, there is also a “film day”.

She encouraged if you are working for an institution to avoid marketing speak, participate and ask for participation, advocate internally, listen, listen, listen, and draw in content then send it out again.

I really enjoyed hearing her talk, as I might be more involved with the University of Delaware Art Conservation social media initiatives and it is great to hear how you can work with people in an institution to generate content for your blog, facebook, or twitter pages.