Seattle was one of the fastest growing cities in the United States in 2016, with most of the growth happening in the downtown core as companies like Adobe, Amazon, Expedia, Google, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Twitter opened new offices in South Lake Union. The Seattle Symphony wanted to expand its audiences by connecting with these new arrivals.
The orchestra wanted to target what it called “New Urban Cultural Consumers” — tech-savvy, mostly childless singles and couples newly arrived in Seattle. The target audience included both millennials and empty nesters who were returning to the city. The orchestra was especially interested in targeting younger audiences, primarily millennials (ages 18–35), in an effort to grow revenue from ticket sales and eventually donations.
There were two prongs to the content strategy: showcase the music and musicians while creating content to humanize the brand and demystify classical music.
The first part of the strategy focused on maximizing the following content:
- Concert videos
- Musician profiles
- Facebook events
The second part of the strategy focused on the following content:
- Original, behind-the-scenes photography
- Content marketing, including listening guides and profiles
- Memes about classical music
- Curated content
Revenue from social media grew by 256%, eventually supporting approximately $3.5 million each year in ticket sales and donations. Social media impressions increased from an average of 800,000 each month to more than 3 million.
The orchestra’s digital audiences also grew by 450% to over 150,000 people — larger than the local NPR affiliate stations in the Seattle–Tacoma media market.
Audience growth was primarily driven by Instagram (1,300% increase), Facebook (317% increase) and YouTube (225% increase). Today approximately 60% of the Symphony’s digital audiences are under 35 and live in the Seattle metro area.
You can read more about the project in the Wallace Foundation’s report, “Can the City’s Boom Mean New Audiences for Seattle Symphony?”