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Social Media Resources

In our 2018-2019 Season CityMusic began work with Social Media
Consultant Annie Zaleski to expand CityMusic’s digital footprint, aiming to engage with our communities and
especially with younger audiences. With the generous support of the Cleveland Foundation, we have created a
social media resource document to share our strategy and experiences, in order to help other arts organization
as they develop in the digital age.

The resource document is a bit lengthy, so for ease of navigation it
can be accessed as a google doc here. We will be updating periodically as we promote our Fifteenth
Anniversary Season. Feel free to post comments or questions in the google doc, we would love to share ideas
with you!

Social Media Promotion for Non-Profits: A Case Study


For a vast majority of Americans, social media is an integral part of their lives: According to a January 2018 Pew Research Center study,
64 percent of people between the ages of 50-64 use at least one social media platform. As might be expected,
social media use increases as demographics trend younger: 78 percent of people ages 30-49 use at least one
social media platform, while an eye-popping 88 percent of people between the ages of 18-29 are on social media.

For arts organizations, being able to reach a social media-savvy demographic—particularly this
younger audience—is crucial to ongoing growth and promotion. A separate 2013 Pew Research Center study of 1,244
arts organizations that received funds from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) between 2006 and 2011
found “strong support for the notion that social media helps organizations reach new, broader audiences, and
that it helps audiences feel more invested in arts organizations.” Organizations surveyed found that social
media use helped increase attendance and ticket sales; raised public awareness of the organization; and
supported fundraising initiatives.

These outcomes coincide with CityMusic Cleveland’s long-term goals as the nonprofit looks toward
celebrating its 15th anniversary during the 2018-2019 season. In order to achieve these goals, the organization
has determined that one facet of their strategy should involve developing a robust social media presence. Since
its inception, CityMusic Cleveland has strived to provide a mix of innovative and traditional programming for
Northeast Ohio audiences. That mission hasn’t changed. However, methods and channels of communication—in
particular when it comes to reaching potential event attendees—have evolved with technology. To ensure
CityMusic Cleveland can continue to expand its footprint in the community and attract diverse audiences, it’s
vital that the organization stay abreast of innovative trends.

During the 2017-2018 season, CityMusic Cleveland implemented a social media expansion using a
combination of established best practices and strategies, as well as cutting-edge technology—including and
especially video, live-streaming and photography—to promote concerts and events, and raise the organization’s

Specific action items included video interviews with orchestra members, guest performers and other
special guests; video/streaming of orchestra practices; professional-grade video of previous concerts; and
candid photos. Assets and approaches were tweaked during the season in response to audience reaction/engagement
and the content of the concerts.

These elements were spread across and tailored to the three main platforms the organization intends
to use (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), and leveraged in conjunction with thought leadership, and event preview
and review coverage.

The knowledge gleaned from this social media expansion has been formalized into a written social
media strategy encompassing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As with any social media strategy, this will be a
detailed, shareable document elaborating on recommendations for content, and detailing what worked (and what
didn’t) during the initiative. This formal written strategy also includes a detailed, step-by-step blueprint
for staff members to follow going forward. Social media is envisioned as a growing and integral aspect of the
organization’s operations and future strategies.

CityMusic Social Media Overview

CityMusic Cleveland actively uses three social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—in
the course of promoting its concerts. We also use YouTube to upload concert videos and have used a Pinterest
page in the past.

Within its social media strategy, CityMusic has prioritized Facebook. The built-in events
functionality, abundance of community-specific groups, and ability to share content with friends and networks
make it an effective way to spread the news about concerts. We use a combination of organic actions—posting
content to pages, interacting with followers—and paid advertising for promotion of events. In between concerts,
CityMusic posts links and videos of interest to followers, in the areas of music, art, dance and culture. This
initiative has helped us grow our audience, and position the page as a go-to destination for quality,
interesting content.

In 2017, CityMusic started increasing its usage of Instagram and Twitter for promotion, outreach and
awareness-building. The strategy around the latter has been similar to that of Facebook, albeit with slightly
more emphasis on promoting and amplifying local content and voices, since those are the type of quality
followers we’d like to reach. Instagram growth is predicated more on photos and video, so we have emphasized
footage from concerts, photos of performers (both live and headshots) and venues, and graphics created by the
social media specialist to attract new followers.

YouTube has been used in the past to post and share premium videos from concerts, and there is a
wealth of archival footage available to share. In addition to being useful for sharing videos, it’s also a good
place to archive footage, so it’s easily accessible.

Pinterest is used to promote each concert series, mainly by posting some videos and information. It
functions as a good, one-stop-shop place for listeners to sample music they will hear at CityMusic
performances. Going forward, the organization is going to evaluate this platform to see if it’s worth
continuing to use it.

Google+ is something CityMusic is looking into implementing and expanding upon in 2018. This will be
addressed in a separate section.


Across all platforms, CityMusic has adopted a positive, friendly tone. We are enthusiastic about
music—classical and other genres as well—and Northeast Ohio’s vibrant cultural scene. We are proud of all our
musicians, composers and conductors, and promote their talents. We are helpful when patrons have questions
regarding our shows, and respond in a timely manner to online queries. We like sharing posts about things that
make us smile or feel delighted, across multiple topics: the science of music, unique performers, historical

At the same time, we are professional: Our orchestra and musicians are world-class, and we treat our
concerts and performances with the linguistic respect they deserve. But we do so in a way that’s not alienating
to the audience: We speak with authority, but it’s friendly, accessible and persuasive.


Frequency varies from platform to platform. On Twitter, we post 4-5 times per day and also retweet
other accounts, spread out over multiple hours. Instagram posts are roughly one per day. Facebook is anywhere
from five or more posts, spread out over the day. Posting frequency tends to increase around concert times.

The goal on every platform is not to overwhelm the audience; it’s to share enough content so the
page is populated, but not so much that people become frustrated and unfollow.

Why Social Media?

Before embarking on a social media initiative, it is helpful to ask yourself these questions:

What am I trying to accomplish with social media?

Every organization has different things they’re trying to accomplish in a given time of year. Some
of these goals include fundraising or membership drives; promoting concerts; increasing awareness; drawing
attention to a particular cause or campaign.

Certain platforms are better for certain goals than others. For example, Facebook has implemented
fundraising functionality that CityMusic found useful during #GivingTuesday and will likely try out at other
times. Instagram and Twitter are both good for increasing awareness of concerts and sharing quick video
snippets of performance rehearsal.

Doing social media for the sake of social media—or because there’s a new, hot platform everyone is
joining—without a rough idea of what you want or need to accomplish will be a frustrating experience.
Experimenting with content or platforms is perfectly fine—in fact, trial and error helps determine blueprints
of what to do and where to go. However, your social media analytics, growth metrics or goal-reaching won’t be
as effective or noticeable if you aren’t clear on why you are doing social media in the first place.

Having goals, even if they’re loosely defined, will help guide your social media strategy and help
you maximize your time.

Pro tip: Before you dive headfirst into social media, write down some primary and secondary goals
you think you want to achieve. Having goals on paper will help hold you accountable and also make it easier to
see for where you should be aiming.

These goals can take the form of analytics-specific goals. For example, CityMusic Cleveland wanted
to reach 5000 Facebook page likes in one period. The organization also tracked specific metrics via
Facebook—e.g., number of total views of posts, and total video views—for each concert series, to see how and
where growth occurred.

Goals can also be action-oriented. For one concert series, CityMusic made it a goal to find more
relevant Twitter and Instagram accounts to follow, and also made a specific effort to find more Facebook
community groups to promote concerts. Having a balance of action-oriented goals and analytics-specific goals is
smart, as it also helps organizations see a correlation between the work they are doing, and the results of
that work.

What platforms make the most sense for my organization?

Organizations often know they need to be on social media, but aren’t entirely sure which one is best
for their needs.

Complicating matters: Besides the big platforms mentioned above, there are tons of other
social-geared platforms that people use. Some major ones include Snapchat (videos and photos that disappear
after 24 hours), Instagram Stories (photos/videos that also disappear after 24 hours), Periscope (live video
streaming for events), Google+ (event-based sharing/information) and Soundcloud (sharing audio).

Having so many platforms can make you feel like you’re missing out if you’re not everywhere. Don’t
worry! That’s not true. For organizations looking to maximize their social media efficiency, going into
platforms that already have a lot of users—and, therefore, potential audience members or followers—is a smart
first step.

Each platform also has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, Facebook prioritizes video-related
posts and is great for events, but its ever-changing algorithm means content can get lost in the shuffle if
it’s not tied to advertising. Instagram works well for organizations with a visual element, but coming up with
new, fresh content on a daily basis can be challenging.

At this point in time, your organization should be on at least one social media platform—even if
it’s a basic Facebook page that can double as a landing page for information about who you are, what you do and
how people can contact you.

But trying to do everything on all platforms can quickly become overwhelming or lead to sub-par
content. Zero-in on what platforms make sense for your organization, and then prioritize time spent on those.
You’ll have better results, and your content and messaging will be more focused.

Pro tip: As an organization, even if you don’t plan on using all social media platforms, it’s smart
from a branding perspective to plan ahead and proactively register accounts under your organization’s name, so
they are available to you in the future if you decide to use them.

It’s also helpful from a branding perspective to decide what you want your social media handle(s) to
be, so there is uniformity across platforms.

Who am I trying to reach?

Each social media platform attracts a different audience, across ages, genders and interests. For
example, musicians love Instagram for networking and video posting; the age of Facebook users has crept up as
the years have progressed; and Omnicore Agency
that “71% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old.”

Looking at who your audience is will help you decide where it makes sense for you to be.

Pro tip: If you are trying to expand your audience, it might make sense to dabble in other apps or
platforms that cater to specific demographics, for example, an app whose audience is favored more by women.
However, it’s best to get a solid foothold in bigger platforms first—and then leverage this big audience to
point to your other platforms.

What is my bandwidth for social media implementation?

When done right, social media can be a time-consuming endeavor—one requiring users to find and
create content, craft effective messages, test content’s efficacy, interact with followers, look for followers
and advocates, and monitor social media feeds.

Not every organization has the bandwidth for full-time employee to manage social media; often, an
employee handling social media also has other duties. This is perfectly fine: A mix of scheduling content in
advance and active social media usage can get the job done.

Assessing how much time you have to spend on a given day or week for social media will help you
figure out. If you’re unsure, keep track of hours you spend on work-related social media in a two-week period,
and see where adjustments might need to be made.

Content Overview

CityMusic Cleveland actively uses three social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—in
the course of promoting its concerts. The organization also uses YouTube; has a Pinterest page; and is looking
into implementing Google+ in its outreach efforts.


Handle: facebook.com/citymusiccleveland

How Platform is Used to Reach Audiences

By posting a mix of CityMusic-related news and interesting articles about music and culture, the
page has positioned itself as a thought leader—a destination for interesting content—and grown its follower

Kinds of Content Posted

  • Written articles

    • CityMusic-related reviews or previews; Northeast Ohio-related culture news; national or
      international classical music news; articles related to dance, art or other forms of music

  • Photos

    • CityMusic-related photos of musicians during performances or rehearsal

  • Videos

    • CityMusic-related interviews of musicians; sneak previews of rehearsals; performance videos;
      videos produced by news organizations or other cultural websites

Effective Content Types

  • Content with the element of surprise—an intriguing or unusual fact

  • Stories with a positive message

  • Nostalgia-related pieces about cultural touchstones people might like

  • Good news about CityMusic Cleveland or other local organizations/people

  • Videos, especially if they are performance-related videos

  • CityMusic-related photos or videos

The Future

In 2018 and beyond, CityMusic Cleveland is working to refine its online concert streaming and its
video campaigns, as well as continuing to use Facebook to do community outreach in places where we have
concerts, as well as surrounding cities.


Handle: twitter.com/citymusic

How Platform is Used to Reach Audiences

By posting a mix of CityMusic-related news and interesting articles about music and culture,
CityMusic has positioned itself as a thought leader.  Our Twitter page has become a destination for interesting
content and we have grown our follower base.

Kinds of Content Posted

  • Written articles

    • CityMusic-related reviews or previews; Northeast Ohio-related culture news; national or
      international classical music news; articles related to dance, art or other forms of music

  • Photos

    • CityMusic-related photos of musicians during performances or rehearsal;
      inspirational-related graphics or ads

  • Videos

    • CityMusic-related interviews of musicians; sneak previews of rehearsals; performance videos;
      videos produced by news organizations or other cultural websites

Effective Content Types:

  • Posts about the organization—event announcements

  • Videos and photos of performances

  • Brief interview snippets

  • Tweets tagging Twitter accounts who are active/will retweet CityMusic

  • Local-geared news about music and culture organizations

The Future

In 2018, CityMusic Cleveland is working to hone its Twitter strategy, and continue to grow its
audience. The organization made many inroads getting in front of local accounts in 2017-18, and will continue
to do so next season, via a combination of steady posting; interacting with accounts; and crafting the kind of
content people want to share.


Handle: instagram.com/citymusiccleveland

How Platform is Used to Reach Audiences

By posting a mix of CityMusic-related news and photos, videos of musicians, and Instagram posts
“regrammed” (the equivalent of retweeting) from other users—along with using hashtags—CityMusic has positioned
itself as a thought leader.  Our Instagram page has become a destination for interesting content and we have
grown our follower base.

Kinds of Content Posted

  • Photos

    • CityMusic-related rehearsals and performances; photos relating to aspects of performances
      (venue photos, photos of the program or sheet music, other fun music-related things); photos posted by
      CityMusic musicians; inspirational graphics; Cleveland-related photos

  • Videos

    • CityMusic-related performances or rehearsals; videos posted by CityMusic musicians

Effective Content Types:

  • Inspirational-type photos or text-based graphics

  • Videos of musicians performing

  • CityMusic-related photos, especially those that are positive (e.g., celebrating a concert or
    special guest)

The Future

In 2018, CityMusic Cleveland is continuing to post more on Instagram, and find creative visual ways
to discuss the orchestra, its concerts and its place in Cleveland.

Sample Social Media Work

Below, here’s a sample of what social media work for a given concert cycle might look like. This is
work completed for the second concert of Season 14.


  • Created events for each individual concert and then one separate event with information with all
    five concerts

  • Implemented 12 videos—interviews with Chabrelle Williams, Stefan Willich and Miho Hashizume, as
    well as footage of the small chamber orchestra practicing—to use as promotion

  • Prepped and edited all 12 of those videos using iMusic, and made adjustments where requested to
    ensure the videos looked more professional

  • Used occasional Facebook advertising to augment promotion of events

  • Posted links to each CityMusic concert in the appropriate Facebook community page (e.g.,
    Collinwood, Willoughby, Parma, Parma Heights, Slavic Village, Shaker Heights)

  • Reached out to each venue that is on Facebook via Messenger and asked them to promote the
    CityMusic events on their own page

  • Prioritized neighborhood-specific outreach (i.e. Parma and Collinwood), to try to increase
    audiences for those concerts

  • Responded and liked comments on the CityMusic social media in a positive manner

  • Put together “audience groups” in the Facebook backend that targeted the zip codes in and around
    each concert location

  • Using these audience groups, tested posting each event and targeting just this audience

  • Actively looked at who liked/interacted with CityMusic posts and went through and invited people
    to “like” the page who didn’t already

  • Posted links to CityMusic press on the CityMusic Facebook main page and in individual events as

    • Posting links to individual events often gives people a notification on Facebook, which will
      keep the concerts at the forefront of people’s minds.


  • Created a holiday video using footage of the orchestra performing “Silent Night” with Chabrelle

  • Added the donation link to the “About Us” page + promoted both Amazon Smile and #GivingTuesday

  • Promoted both Giving Tuesday and Amazon Smile by creating graphics that could then be shared


  • Posted on a regular basis, a mix of original tweets and retweets from other accounts

  • Repurposed some of the Facebook videos for promotion

  • Posted CityMusic-specific photos from rehearsal and performances to add color

  • Retweeted press links previewing the concerts

  • Tweeted at multiple press-related accounts or journalists with a link to the Series 2 concerts,
    to make sure they saw it

  • Consistently retweeted a local alt-weekly link to a local roundup concerts compiled by an
    organization that’s been a friend to CityMusic

  • Interacted with a local arts and culture publication, Canvas, and retweeted their links to
    cultural goings-on in the area

  • Retweeted select things from the CityMusic account on Eugenia’s account

  • Responded and liked comments in a positive manner

  • Tagged various venues/organizations on Twitter where CityMusic had concerts (e.g., Cuyahoga
    Public Library, Praxis Fiber Workshop) to alert them of content

  • Promoted both Giving Tuesday and Amazon Smile by creating graphics that could then be shared

  • Repurposed several inspirational graphics that were made for Instagram and posted them to

  • Followed select Twitter accounts that align with CityMusic space (e.g., music) or fans

  • Looked at the followers/followees of music-related Twitter accounts, and actively followed other
    accounts who would be of interest to CityMusic’s readership


  • Posted on a regular basis

  • Repurposed some of the Facebook videos for promotion

  • Reposted inspirational photos and videos posted by other users

  • Created several inspirational graphics with famous music-related quotes

  • Promoted both Giving Tuesday and Amazon Smile by creating graphics that could then be shared

  • Posted CityMusic-specific photos from rehearsal and performances to add color—photos of the
    musicians that I then regrammed, the program and other fun things

  • Used Instagram stories to post some photos from the Collinwood rehearsal

  • Actively looked at the followers list of music-related accounts and followed users that made


One of the challenges with social media strategies is that organizations are at the whims of social
media platforms—and so when changes occur, adjustments have to be made.

Facebook Algorithm Changes

During the Season 14 concert cycle, Facebook changed its algorithm significantly, to prioritize what
content is and isn’t seen.

  • In a nutshell, links, event shares, and external video links (e.g., to YouTube) are being
    de-emphasized in people’s timelines; in contrast, text-only status updates, videos posted directly to
    Facebook, photos, and items that encourage comments are being seen more.

  • This has proved to be a slight challenge, as the existing social media strategy—which
    prioritizes sharing interesting links and YouTube videos—has had to be tweaked and reconsidered.

  • This is still a work-in-progress, as statistics are showing that sharing from other sources—and
    sharing things that provoke a strong reaction, whether it’s laughter, sadness or anger—is garnering more


Facebook Analytics Changes

During the Season 14 concert cycle, Facebook changed how and what its analytics measures. When
coupled with the algorithm changes, this influenced statistics tracking.

  • For example, two categories—the “Daily Total Impressions” and “Total number of times videos have
    been viewed for more than 3 seconds numbers”—saw decreases between Concert 2 and Concert 3.

  • With the algorithm and analytics changes, this makes sense: The Daily Total Impressions
    statistic now measures “the number of times that any content from your Page or about your Page entered a
    person’s screen,” and this is something directly affected by the algorithm.


Photos and video are king on social media—which is great news for orchestras, organizations which
are visual and audio feasts.

  • However, having fresh photo content can be a challenge, as there can be long gaps between
    concerts, and high-quality videos are time-consuming to create.

  • Archival photos are useful—but it can be a stretch to re-share things that have been shared


For arts organizations, social media success comes with getting buy-in from stakeholders—including
musicians, directors, event spaces, freelance photographers/videographers and other staff members—to help
generate and provide social media content. Only by having support will a strategy succeed, as for smaller
organizations it takes a village to help contribute content.

And while it makes sense for one person from a branding standpoint to be the point person for social
media posting/creation/strategy, at any organization, there should be more than one person with institutional
knowledge of operations and best practices. No one person should be the only person with the logins and
passwords; there at least needs to be backup users as admins and a list of account logins available to anyone
who needs them.

This is also relevant to social media strategies, which often fall under the purview of one person
due to the nature of the work. Strategies should also be available for anyone to view, so people can see what
works and what doesn’t, and contribute ideas if appropriate.

Here are some other pro tips:

  • Have a Dropbox folder shared between the social media team and orchestra stakeholders with
    archived photos and videos, as well as hi-res logos. Having this readily available will help spark content
    ideas and inform posting strategies.

  • Post videos both on Facebook itself and via a YouTube channel. Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes
    things posted directly, so it’s good to have things in both places.–YouTube can be considered more like an

  • Ask musicians (if applicable) and/or other members of the organization to tag and acknowledge
    the social media handles of an organization when they are posting relevant content. This way, engagement
    and sharing can happen, which improves the type of content posted.

  • Share content posted by other members of the organization—and be sure to thank and shout out
    sponsors, venues where you’re performing, other events happening at venues, etc. Being a good, friendly
    neighbor and supporter online is a great way to put together a strong online community.

  • Don’t be afraid to post videos on Facebook, Instagram (and Instagram Stories) or via Twitter
    that are shot on a high-quality smartphone, as those kinds of sneak peek videos do well with audiences. Not
    every video put out there needs to be professionally shot and produced.

  • Listen to your audience. If certain kinds of content are doing better than others, post more of
    that. Use a combination of analytics and your own instincts to create content that shows off the
    organization’s personality. Being more human and personal online will endear people to your organization.

CityMusic Cleveland concerts are made possible by audience contributions.

CityMusic Cleveland

CityMusic Cleveland is a professional chamber orchestra that performs free concerts throughout Northeast Ohio,often accompanied by exhibits of local artwork.

Since exploding onto the scene in 2004, CityMusic Cleveland has won cheering audiences with beautiful music, brilliantly performed in familiar neighborhood settings.
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Recent Reviews & Articles

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Posted Oct 21, 2019 Cellist-conductor Amit Peled has begun his tenure as music director of CityMusic Cleveland. He conducted the group in a series of performances last week.   By Mark Satola | Special to The Plain Dealer   CLEVELAND, Ohio — In Amit Peled, CityMusic Cleveland has doubled its investment. Not only has it […]

Social Media Resource Document

With generous support from the Cleveland Foundation, CityMusic Cleveland has embarked on a mission to enhance our digital footprint to more fully engage with our local communities, especially younger audiences. Our social media consultant has documented the strategy so far as a resource for other non-profits who may struggle to find the resources to devote to digital media. (link to social media resource page)

Find out more

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