NativeHQ expands its pioneering SMI Arts programme after successful pilot

If you’re an arts organisation looking to use digital media more intelligently, this post is for you. Read on for details of how NativeHQ can help you, through our Social Media Insights: Arts programme.

Social media have the potential to change the possibilities for arts organisations to connect meaningfully with audiences, communities, staff and other key people – if done properly. It’s getting it right in a specific arts context that is the challenge. And it’s much more than just improving your promotional activities or selling tickets.

All arts organisations are facing challenges:

  • How can we achieve more with less public funding?
  • How can we involve our audiences better in the creation, as well as the production of new work?
  • How can we build a better understanding of our company that can help us recruit more volunteers or help raise funds to secure our future?
  • How can we test a new business model in the quickest and cheapest way?

Social Media Insights: Arts is specifically designed to help arts organisations develop social media understanding and skills that are most relevant to them.

NativeHQ can help your company develop more efficient working practices, embrace emerging art forms; reach new audiences and participants; and sustain the company through new business models or generate more income from new sources such as crowdfunding.

“Social Media Insights came at just the right time for Hijinx. We were in a period of change as a company, so it was the right time to stop and reflect on who are we, what we do, and how digital and social media could help us do that at a foundational level. NativeHQ have helped us to take a holistic approach to digital and social media as a company: to see digital’s potential for serving the company’s entire mission, rather than just as part of the marketing strategy”
Vanessa Morse, Hijinx Theatre

As NativeHQ’s newest associate I can also offer my expertise in helping arts companies undertake organisational development and innovation reviews.

Your arts organisation would work with NativeHQ to develop and follow your own agenda for improving your use of social media, covering issues such as strategy, training, network growth, individual campaigns, advertising, media production, monitoring and evaluation.

We won’t run your Facebook or Twitter accounts for you, but we will teach you how to run and manage meaningful social media relationships that support your overall artistic and development needs.


On the roof of the Millennium Centre, Cardiff


The programme consists of the following activities:

  • 10 x half day sessions with NativeHQ over a four to eight month period (agreed with you and starting when most convenient for you)
  • We will begin with a process based on our 4P Method for developing strategic direction with social media and prioritising initiative ideas, that we will then pursue through training and enabling work with you
  • Between each session, you and NativeHQ would agree agendas for the next sessions
  • Our closing session would focus on developing ongoing social media plans and success metrics.

What we would ask of you:

  • An enthusiasm across your organisation for the potential of using digital networks for development. We would prefer to include leaders, marketing/communications and other team members. The implications are important to all aspects of the company’s work.
  • A morning or afternoon set aside for staff to meet with NativeHQ regularly
  • An open, rigorous, experimental approach to learning
  • A named lead person for the programme in your organisation
  • Willingness to participate in a limited number of R&D and evaluation activities to assist learning in the programme

“When we embarked on the Social Media Insights I really had not anticipated quite how the project would touch on every aspect of what we do and how we operate. Instead of some glib, generic advice on what to do / what not to do on social media, the project went so much deeper than that and required us to unpack who we are, how we do things and how we want to be and do. It was very, very bespoke and accommodated everyone’s’ skills and needs as well as the organisational needs.

As a result of the SMI Arts, we now manage our projects; communicate within the team; manage our time; market ourselves; make and edit films and of course, use social media – much better than before!”
Amanda Griffkin, Powys Dance

If you are interested in engaging NativeHQ for this innovative programme, or for a specific social media project you are considering, I would love to meet you.

I will provide more details about the programme including wider business and organisational development, our costs, how we can help you secure additional funding (if necessary) and to ensure we tailor the programme to your company’s needs and plans.

Email or phone 07870 569316 for a discussion about Social Media Insights: Arts.

9 ways social media can benefit your business

We were invited to speak about social media and business at the launch of Coleg Morgannwg’s new Nantgarw campus. Here are some notes.

Serve your customers

Three, the mobile service provider, are particularly good at customer service (as far as we’ve experienced). Look at the Three Twitter account which they use to respond to queries and post service updates. Note how they identify the people who are running the account on behalf of the company. Giffgaff are another mobile service provider service making use of social media tools and principles. They are networking their customers so they can help each other, earn points which are added to their credit and ultimately keep costs down. There is a Volkswagen cult-like feel to the brand. It’s a bit of an experiment but the idea of allowing customers to talk to each other is a recurring one.

Develop your products

Again, in a different field but still in technology, Dell computers have a platform called IdeaStorm. So far they have incorporated over 515 ideas from the community into various products. You can see some examples of ideas in the screenshot. The ethos: your customers, when connected meaningfully, know more about your company than even you do.

Starbucks have My Starbucks Idea, a similar platform.

Tŷ Siriol are famed in Swansea and surrounds for their high quality pork sausages. In conversation with them recently they told us they’d saved a lot of money and effort by asking their customers which products they would favour. In response, rather than develop a range of different flavoured sausages they are focusing on one traditional sausage. Ask people what they want through social media, use polls etc. Nowadays, market research can be more affordable and quicker than ever before.

Inform yourself

The screenshot depicts Netvibes for a National Theatre Wales production called The Passion. Social media can be used to monitor mentions of the company, brands and products (maybe competitors?).

You probably should also monitor keywords from your industry and news from relevant sources.

Netvibes is still a decent tool, as is a feed reader like Google Reader for persistent searches.

It’s not egotistical to monitor your own name, it’s just taking an interest in your media profile.

Share your stories

A big part of Bulmers’ brand is their long history. They are telling the stories on their Facebook timeline. It’s consistent with their advertising and other publicity.

Often people want to hear about the process and the history behind your company. Illustrate it.

Promote your products

Rachel’s organic dairy products also come from Wales. They are using a Facebook app to offer recipes, ideas, competitions, offers, cross-promotions with other related firms and so on. They have a big following and can go direct. These days, every company is a media company.

There are questions about relying on Facebook for this in the long term. It seems to be working for them now though.

Find your team

This is about recruitment and being recruited.

We focus on LinkedIn here as a means of getting work opportunities. It is particularly good for freelancers.

Your web presence more generally is probably more important than ever before (e.g. introducing ideas on a blog or regular videos).

If you’re planning a career there is a new definition of literacy which includes digital. If you can express your ideas and converse with visualisations, video, images, audio and multimedia, then that is bona fide literacy. It’s important that we develop this in Wales, from early on.

Work smarter

Wikipedia is the supreme example of collaboration using social media. Wikipedia‘s project is to produce an encyclopaedia, it’s the example of the biggest wiki in terms of users and content. But there are many other collaborative applications of wikis.

At NativeHQ we have tools which we use every day: Trello (for our to-do lists) and Google Drive (for all kinds of documents, including reports and presentations).

Fund new initiatives

Gwilym Deudraeth’s 1929 book of poetry, depicted in the slide, is a superb example of ‘crowdfunding’ in Wales before the web. More details about Gwilym here.

Now we are observing the growth of Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowdfunding platforms which help you propose a project and raise money from a number of contributors. Very often the most successful attempts use social media, especially video, to make the case and promote the project. This is a social media phenomenon – it’s much cheaper to form groups than it was before.

Redefine your business

What could you offer now that you can network your customers? In a bold move for an airline KLM are introducing people on their planes. They have a scheme called ‘Meet and Seat’ where you can share a certain amount of info from your LinkedIn or Facebook profile – and then meet other people who are interested in meeting you. They are keen to emphasise that it’s networking rather than dating.

BBC and other broadcasters do this with their Twitter hashtags, to varying levels of success. Question Time has been successful with #bbcqt and the accompanying account for the show @bbcquestiontime. The key realisation was that audiences don’t respond to ‘have your say’ (with its connotations of centralised broadcasting, using only one account) nearly as much as the offer to ‘talk to your peers’ (one hashtag which is used by thousands of decentralised participants).


That’s it. We had so much we had to cut out – this was intended to be a general presentation.

(Video of our presentation to come soon.)

Coleg Morgannwg panoramic pic by Tom and his new iPhone