Ever meet a digital movement artist before? Meet Maria Juan.
She’s a social strategist at OrganikSEO and a professionally trained dancer who has always had a passion for the digital side of the arts.
For years she’s juggled a dual life, working 9 to 5 and then running off to rehearsal at the end of the day to fulfill her alter-ego, volunteering and dancing in local dance companies and communities.
When Maria moved to San Diego, she decided to start a career in website coding, graphic design and digital marketing. Soon after, she took a job as a strategist.
Courtesy of Walter Wilson Studios
We were curious to learn more about Maria and her insights, so she took a few moments to chat about programmatic, digital marketing and arts organizations with us.
PA.O: Thanks so much for your time this afternoon, Maria. Why did you decide to start a career in website coding and programming?
Maria Juan: Now, everyone is on digital media. Performing arts marketing used to be a very one-on-one conversation, but now I am seeing that social media and the Internet are where artists are finding their next audience members. Nowadays in marketing, knowing code is always going to be a strong suit and a digital presence is an area that most arts communities and individual artists are lacking.
For most people, when they consider themselves artists, they don’t like being behind the computer. But I really thrive on it – I feel like I am really pushing forth art where their audience is located. If I could assist with at least that, I knew I could push forward brands. I wanted to know how websites worked and how people were able to build them. It was at that point that I knew I was very interested in coding and digital marketing and that I wanted to add that to my repertoire.
PA.O: Would you recommend other marketers to do the same?
Maria Juan: I think for those people who are really curious about the foundation of digital marketing, analytics and coding is a great place to start.
I know coding and programming are sides a lot of people avoid because they feel that they are overly complicated. However, they have really given me a base for strategy because I can show someone when something is or is not working based on analytics.
I don’t recommend everyone do this because you have to want to actually learn that side of marketing. It’s not the glamorous side, but data can be sexy because it can prove what your end goals are and how you can reach them with hardcore facts.
PA.O: How do you engage nuanced, fine arts/performance/live events with consumers online?
Maria Juan: That is where the social media comes in. This is your opportunity to show how the back-end of the organization works. A couple of years ago it was, “You sit there in the audience and I stand here on the stage.” Now, we are starting to see that line blur itself out. We are seeing audiences and performers mixing together digitally.
The best way to get that message across digitally would be to enhance social media campaigns with a really robust strategy so audience members can see you and see something they won’t on a regular basis with a performance. Let them see the rehearsals, or the making of the video. If you’re talking sports events, let them see the practice. These instances make great social media content and can turn your audience into what I call loyalists.
I always tell people that we are not just looking for audience members, but we are looking for loyalists – people who are loyal to the brand and not necessarily just there to see a good show.
You want to do this for any business. You don’t just want someone to try your product and disappear, but to continuously follow. You want them to be married to the company and not just be fickle.
PA.O: In your opinion, how is programmatic advertising – the growing prevalence of marketing automation, data mining and digital analytics – changing the world?
Maria Juan: Programmatic is allowing businesses to stay ahead of their clients and what they need or want before they even ask for it. It is making the industry much more customer-centric, because programmatic is less about what product we are pushing out there and more about what our customers want us to create for them.
It is also allowing individuals, and not just big marketers, to be ahead of the ever-changing landscape.
PA.O: Are performing arts organizations and nonprofits leveraging big data and digital analytics to boost their marketing campaigns?
Maria Juan: I think the majority of them are not, and that is due to cost. Most arts organizations are 501-c3 nonprofits, and every penny has to be accounted for. In an arts organization, marketing budgets are the first to get cut. I haven’t seen any big push in the arts for using marketing automation just yet. But I’m hoping to see it soon in the next few years. We’ll see how that pans out.
PA.O: What are some other major growth areas for advertising the fine/performing arts?
Maria Juan: Arts organizations need to be centered around strategic social media campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others. If they do this, they would definitely be able to garner loyalists. They should work with marketing automation software so that they can reach out to their email marketing list. Retargeting or remarketing would be a great way to gain more audience members who have visited the site in the past or liked/followed the organization on social media.
PA.O: What are some of the biggest barriers to actually establishing a strong social media presence for these types of organizations?
Maria Juan: It is the same one that I come across all the time – whether it was an established company or an emerging artist. It is very hard to get a choreographer, or anyone for that matter, to post on a regular basis. Every arts organization needs to have a dedicated online specialist on staff to make sure they are pushing for the digital brand. As I said earlier, the arts are such a personalized industry, and they have always been about face-to-face contact. They just need to harness the power of social media to reach audience members.
Going back to cost, this can be such a cost-effective solution. You can have someone spend time chatting on Facebook and Twitter – and you can pay an intern to do that or a PT employee rather than dedicating an entire job position. The return on that is so easy to track. If you put up a traceable link for a ticket promotion on social media you can see your ROI for tickets sales. We are so dependent on grant money because so many arts organizations haven’t figured out how to make a viable business model. But with social media, you can track your ROI by testing. If you put X into something and get Y back, you can measure the value of the investment.
PA.O: What are some huge digital advertising trends that you feel have defined 2014?
Maria Juan: I think one of the biggest trends is everyone is saying is “content is king.” In 2014 that’s where digital marketing was headed. I think that it is going to evolve into a more complete sentence in 2015.
Content is king, but visual is queen.
Both need to work together for a cohesive campaign. While everyone is working on creating great content, we need to be focused on answering the question of, “What is the overall marketing campaign, visually?” A lot of people are going to find that their marketing is in digital channels in a visual format, like Instagram and YouTube.
PA.O: What have been some of your favorite ad campaigns this year?
Maria Juan: I really liked the featuring ballet dancer Misty Copeland. It emphasized that dancers are athletes and features other famous women throughout the campaign.
Diesel was also great – I love the grit in their A-Z of dance campaign. It brings several genres of dance together in a raw format.
A campaign that I didn’t enjoy quite so much was the Free people presents: FP Movement Ballet. It was by a dancewear company that received a ton of backlash from the dance community for not using a professionally trained ballet dancer. The marketing strategy was not executed well because they did not actually educate themselves on the dance technique.
PA.O: What are some of your concerns about the future of digital?
Maria Juan: A lack of personalized touch is going to be a big issue. Digital advertising is great, but we have to add the personal conversation. I feel that we are slipping away from that. Something I do on a regular basis is buy paper books because I refuse to give up that last little part of me that is still so tactile, analog and personalized.