I still hear some arts managers express doubts about social media and online social networking and their value. Whilst they are ruminating issues around effectiveness, control and the investment of time, others are just getting on with it and having hugely positive and very tangible results.

Some key New Zealand arts organisations now have thousands of Twitter and Facebook members and have targeted distinct market segments with highly pro-active social networking strategy using Flickr, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter and Meetup. Internationally, Museum of Modern Art in New York City had an astounding 353,741 Twitter followers at last count.

When it comes to online social networking and the arts, my view is: What’s not to like? The online social networking phenomenon is a gift for creators, producers and promoters of the arts. Could we have dared to dream of or imagine such a tool a decade ago? And such inexpensive and instant access to potential audiences and their passions, beliefs, activities and networks?

Why are online social media tools so significant to us, as arts marketers?

To the doubters above, I say: “Whether you personally believe in online social media or not is not important; what matters is your potential audiences are using it. Choose to be absent at your peril”.