How the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Gained 20,000 Facebook Fans

How did a small arts venue go from having no online presence to running an impressive social media campaign, with 20,000 fans on Facebook to show for it, in just three years?  Daniel Gallant, the Executive Director of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in NYC’s Lower East Side, discussed the organization’s transformation in the digital space at #RLTM Realtime NY 11 on June 6th.

Back in 2008, the Nuyorican’s only advertising was though print ads and free weeklies, and had no measurable impact.  Losing thousands in potential revenue per year, the Cafe had no online presence, and didn’t even know if their events were showing up online or in the press.

Fast forward to 2011: with an up-to-date website, constantly updated Facebook page with nearly 20,000 fans and Twitter account with over 2,300 followers, the Nuyorican is harnessing digital and social media effectively.  Via these channels, the Nuyorican posts daily updates, discount offers, cross-promotions, contests, and more.  They aim to engage their online audience at least once a day with a ‘morsel’ of information, succinct and interesting messages that have value.  Having re-packaged itself as a “cutting edge” arts venue, it has connected with a tech-savvy fan base and has ‘busloads’ of people coming in for shows.

Along with the essentials (website, Facebook and Twitter), the Nuyorican also:

  • customized their Google Places page (and still update it regularly)
  • created Google alerts
  • opened accounts with Google Adwords
  • publicized their social networking accounts via calendars
  • kept sending email blasts for older customers
  • put Facebook and Twitter accounts on everything they produced

The Nuyorican’s ratio of online fans to operating expense is excellent in comparison to other nonprofit competitors in NYC, including the New York City Opera, Kennedy Center, and the 92nd Street Y.

Successes for the Nuyorican following their ‘online overhaul’ include:

  • growing online ticket sales by 30%, and web traffic by 40%
  • for social media ‘hyped’ events, sales grew 50%
  • doubled their number of weekly events
  • more than doubled annual revenues
  • cut their advertising budget while boosting public profile
  • using feedback from social networking to create new programs and more effectively target audiences
  • reimagined the Cafe’s brand: from edgy but low-tech to cutting-edge and tech-savvy

See the full slide presentation here: