Essay on Social Media Analysis

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It has been broadly said that the meaning of an artwork is only complete when someone appreciates it and has an interpretation of it. On the other end of art lies the receptor, the audience, and the public; who are in charge of providing value and signification. Keeping the audience engaged is fundamental in diverse art organizations, and it becomes the first step to increasing attendance and developing new audiences. Within the performing arts sector, different factors are at stake in terms of audience attendance, such as access, motivation and ticket price. The National Arts Participation Survey developed in 2016, has impressive figures; for instance, the fact that 43% of Australians think that the arts are still high-priced (Australian Council for the Arts 2017). Notably, in the State of Victoria out of the 95% of people who have declared to be an active participant in the arts, only 40% attended dance or theatre performances, once a year (Creative Victoria 2014). In the encounter, the audience, aspects like art marketing, and the popularity of the organization play an important role. Creative Victoria published the Audience Atlas and demonstrate that in the theatre market, The Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) is the most popular organization with 74% of awareness. Followed by the Malthouse Theatre with 52%, and Theatre Works with 28%. La Mama Theatre is the next one with 27% of consciousness. (Creative Victoria 2014). Being part of the top five is an excellent achievement for an independent theatre like La Mama. This fact embodies an immense opportunity to enhance its fame and connect with more audiences.

This research project aims to analyze the La Mama Theatre's audience, taking as a starting point the question Who is the La Mama's audience? It seeks to unravel the connection established between the organization and its public to understand them to create a long-lasting relationship. This research proposal will first present an overview of the organization, followed by a list of the literature that will be revised in the final research document regarding i) State policies and Audience Behaviours, ii) Arts Marketing, and iii) Audience Development. It will also address the core research question and research aims, the methodology proposed, along with drawbacks and limitations, as well as a projected timeline of this research project. The scope includes eight performances in total from the main season's shows; four from the Summer-Autumn 2019 program and four parts of the Winter-Spring 2019 program. The data will be collected from the information already gathered by the organization in the digital platforms used by La Mama to book tickets and interact with its audience. Additionally, an online survey is proposed to obtain insights on more specific topics.

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La Mama is a not-for-profit theatre organization located in Carlton, Victoria. La Mama defines itself as 'Melbourne's home for independent theatre' (La Mama 2019). It was founded in 1967 by Betty Burstall, as an inspiration of the Off-Off-Broadway trend observed in New York. Currently, La Mama has more than fifty years in the Australian avant-garde theatre scene, and it has presented more than 2,500 productions. La Mama is an intimate theatre, which embodies a Melbourne icon. This institution has always been distinguished by celebrating artistic risk and cutting the edge, embracing experimental works, and going beyond the mainstream. La Mama is an accessible, inclusive, developmental, alternative, and diverse theatre.

Along with its main season programs, La Mama also showcases all ranges of performing arts: music, playreadings, spoken words and poetry, puppetry, and cabaret. La Mama champions accessibility and invites a diverse community of artists and audiences. Furthermore, La Mama ensures artist remuneration with a unique model in Australia by giving 80% of the box office to the artists. Together with a venue at no cost, ticketing, front-of-house, marketing, and technical support, allow artists to only focus on the execution of their work.

In 2018 a fire devastated one of the venues of the institution, the one located on Faraday Street. During this year, La Mama launched a fundraising campaign to rebuild the facilities; therefore, it has been a busy time. Operating in a different office, with half of the program, the staff has not had enough time to act proactively in terms of audience development, and the main focus has been to survive, trying their best with the available resources. La Mama has not reached the target for the campaign yet, but the organization is optimistic and thanks to the support of the community and federal and local government, La Mama feels confident, and soon they will announce the commencement date of the construction. Coincidentally, this year, La Mama has to apply for the four-year funding granted by the Australia Council for the Arts. In preparing this application, the audience has been a fundamental topic within the marketing and communications department.

One of La Mama's main goals is to increase and develop audience engagement in both the theatre itself and online. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to understand who the current audience is. In La Mama's strategic plan for 2021-2024, four primary areas of support are required to accomplish this aim:

    • Early communication with artists to access their communities
    • Building on existing relationships and introduction to other art marketing personnel
    • Advice on building and utilizing our social media data collection
    • Producing other events around the main theatre season programming.

The strategies required to be in place to achieve these goals are:

    • Working with artists to access their communities
    • Generate monthly social media reports
    • Obtain feedback from the audience, artists, and theatre companies. For instance, through surveys with incentives.
    • Undertake audience research every one or two years to ensure our marketing strategies stay relevant to our audience. These should include
    • Data collection
    • Analysis
    • Interpretation
    • Action planning
    • Implementation
    • An outcome to build evidence around our audience trends to market correctly to them.

Taking into consideration all these factors previously mentioned, the present research project results are essential to work towards the new strategic plan of the organization, in dealing with the complex topic of audience engagement and development.

    • Does La Mama have an audience?
    • Who is La Mama's audience?
    • Do the shows mainly drive the audience?
    • Is there any difference between La Mama's offline and online audience?
    • Why do they come to see the performances?
    • What communicational channels work better for this audience?

The purpose of this study is to understand La Mama's current attendees. To engage better with them, increase and develop audience engagement. It will also help to maintain, improve, or modify the current marketing plan that the organization uses to connect with its public. The present research needs to be done because there are abundant data and insights available regarding La Mama's audience, but the organization has not had time to analyze and document the information. Furthermore, audience engagement is a central objective of the development of the strategic plan for the coming four-year

To answer the research questions, a mixed-method approach has been selected. The use of two or more methods of research will help to obtain a better comprehension of the analyzed case study. Complementing different approaches is often referred to as triangulation (Veal and Burton 2014, p. 128). The collection of both quantitative and qualitative data is fundamental to getting a full appreciation of the context. The methods selected are three: i) Analysis of secondary data, ii) Social media analysis, and iii) Self-reported questionnaire-based surveys. By choosing three different research methods, they can complement each other to balance their advantages and deficiencies, helping the project to obtain better and more accurate results.

Secondary data analysis will supply enough evidence to understand visitor variations and profiles of La Mama's audience, and therefore its cultural participation. The study of secondary data will include web-based research of the available literature and journals concerning audience development in the performing art sector. Survey information, published by the Australia Council, and other national and local institutions in terms of arts, consumption, motivation, and behaviors will also be considered. Along with the last Annual report of La Mama and the information provided by the organization on its website.

Another fundamental resource in terms of secondary data analysis is the platform used by La Mama to purchase tickets, called TryBooking. This website provides quantitative and qualitative data about audience behaviors in purchasing tickets. In total, eight shows will be analyzed in terms of demographics, attendance, revenue generated, and any available information that will be accessed through this platform. Additionally, the information provided by the platform used for Electronic Direct Mail (EDM) in this case MailChimp, will be also considered, to evaluate the type of audience that La Mama is reaching through its newsletter which is sent out every Tuesday and which manner these audience is interacting with the organization.

To understand the digital audience of La Mama, the statistics obtained from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will be explored, specifically the ones available for 2019. As an administrator of the organization profile on these platforms, I have access to all the data provided by these networks. Social Media analysis represents a combination of quantitative and qualitative data, and in this case, the study of this data aims to answer the question: Who is La Mama's digital audience? Is there any difference between La Mama's offline and online audience?

A digital survey will be distributed to La Mama's database, the survey will be created and distributed through the free online survey development cloud-based software called Survey Monkey. “Qualitative research is generally based on the belief that the people personally involved in a particular (cultural/event) situation are best placed to describe and explain their experiences, motivations and world view in their own words” (Veal and Burtin 2014, p. 218). The survey will be made of approximately 15 quantitative and qualitative questions, and the expected time of completion will be 10 minutes. It will consist of a self-reported online questionnaire-based survey, and the aim is to establish some demographic information regarding La Mama's audience, as well as qualitative data. Hopefully, the target reached will be at least 100 responses. The people selected for this survey will be the attendants to the last shows performed at La Mama: Broken River (September 12th to 22nd) and Facing Medea (September 25th to October 6th). 'The accuracy of what respondents say depends on their powers of recall, on their honesty and, fundamentally, on the format of the questions included in the questionnaire' (Veal and Burtin 2014, p. 240).

The survey will be respondent-completion to optimize resources and time. For surveys, rewards are fundamental, and the respondents will be offered free double passes to the performances at La Mama, as well as tickets for the cinema to be agreed upon with our industry partners such as MadMan and Icon distribution films.

The main limitation of this research is the fact that La Mama programs several shows, and they are all significantly different between them. It is difficult to analyze every show and take a representative sample of La Mama's audience. Another limitation is the fact that at the moment purchasing the ticket on Trybooking, the people do not always answer the questions, and also some of the tickets are purchased on different instances, such as phone bookings and box office sales, and there is no data available that has been collected from these channels.      

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