Im the executive director at Culture Republic. Im Andy Catlin. Im the marketing manager at the Queens Hall. And together we worked on creating a Facebook ticketing application.
Well, from Culture Republics point of view, weve been working our last five to six years on a portal project, which has connected box offices across the city onto our website. So there is a shopping basket opportunity for customers. Havent cracked the technology of that. We were really keen to use that as a test bed for other ways of getting people to use technology to buy tickets.
And we looked around, discussed with partners, and came up with the notion, as Andy says, of using Facebook. Maybe you want to say a little bit more about the specifics of that. Yeah. Were a music venue, predominantly. So we do about 200 shows a year.
And obviously, this is a very strong overlap between social networking Facebook, specifically and music audiences. So for us, it was an opportunity of having an additional sales channel that would ideally drive more business to the whole. When the project was first discussed, I was working for an Edinburghbased organisation, The Audience Business. And it was a subscriptionbased organisation. So we had membership or subscription from a whole range of arts organisations across the city.
We operated the portal, we operated the ticket website, to support integrated ticketing across to city. When we came up with the notion of using Facebook, we were looking for one of our partner organisations, our subscribers, that ideally sell through Enta because that is a box office system that is very easy to work with in this context. We also wanted a venue that had a wide range of repertoire, and ideally, one where the individual audiences for that repertoire were active on Facebook. So thats why we really picked up on Andy and the Queens Hall. The Queens Hall are also every comfortable with working digitally, so that was really important for us.
We also knew that the Fringe had begun to explore Facebook ticketing. There was appetite for exploring that, across the arts organisations that we work with. Nesta provided an opportunity for us, on behalf of that wider constituency, to trial it. So it seemed just serendipitous, I think, from our perspective.
One of the tech partners is Ingresso. And they operate TicketSwitch middleware. And that supports the whole portal clickit integrated ticketing operation. And it links individual box offices into a single channel, a single feed for ticketing. So they were a given, really, to make this work.
Maybe Andy would like to say something about the other technical partner. And then, in terms of working with White Spaces, a local agency, they had provided the Fringes Facebook ticketing in previous years. But thats just only to one system. So we knew that they were comfortable with it the technology and some of the changes that have occurred within Facebook.
So both by them being very skilled in this area and being local, which we think is an important aspect of the tech partner relationship, they were definitely towards the top of the list of people that we would have considered for this, within the budget restraint.
It wasnt something that I think we speculatively wanted to invite a group of tech partners. We wanted somebody who had a known set of skills and expertise in that area. So I think theres more of a partnership, certainly, in terms of discussion and development. But there was also a supplier contract relationship, with White Space, in particular. They had produced an implementation budget which had a contingency built in that they gave us.
And that formed the backbone of the expenditure around the project. They delivered what they said they were going to deliver. We used the contingency to iron out some of the technical glitches that nobody could have foreseen before it went live. End of project, really.
I think for the majority of projects, we didnt allocate enough resources to its marketing. So the marketing weve done it through, obviously, all of our own social channels our traditional channels, like print brochures, advertising, display material, within our building. And then, Culture Republic took on a set of detailed, specific campaigns to test a variety of Facebook advertising channels, which has been incredibly useful in terms of, I think, not only for us, as an organisation, but for other people, as the bedrock of being able to tell other organisations, this is what the techniques that you can use on Facebook, and these are the techniques that are the most successful. I think there is still a lot of gaps in the cultural sectors working knowledge of how Facebook advertising works and whats most effective, especially in organisations of our scale or smaller.
So that was a process that took place at the back end of the project within the last three or four months. And weve just received the data back on that, which, again, we are more than happy to share with other people, because I think that one of the critical outcomes is its all well and good building a product, but if you are not in a position to promote it after that, it will die on the vine. Advantages massive targeted audiences. They have mindblowing amounts of data on their users.
I mean, just full. And its something within the arts, or especially, ticketed environments where we have a significant amount of data about our existing customers. Its something that we can integrate with.
The flip side is that we have no control over what they do. And for the last 100 years, newspapers have been published, and it was Ill take an advert there. And you knew what you were going to get. Facebook is like the newspaper decides to change every other week. And they will give you no warning of this.
And there will be no advance headsup. And it is now increasingly driven by commercial imperative. And if youre not going to be spending money with Facebook, one of the principal outcomes of this has been to completely reevaluate our relationship with it, as an organisation, that if youre not spending money with them, youve got to be cautious about the amount of effort that you place into that platform because why are you going to encourage people your potential audiences to follow or like you on a platform where you, then, have to rent that interest back from them? That seems insane to me that we spend all of this time investing in our own websites and own email lists, and in the last few years, Im not saying weve abandoned that, but the focus has been strongly about moving people to other social destinations because we saw there was a real advantage there.
That, in the future, will become less and less powerful. And I think that in the cultural sector, weve left ourselves exposed, to a degree, by that movement towards chasing other peoples platforms. Thats a little bit like asking somebody to buy the guardian because we put an advert in it. That seems crazy to me. Its a straight up and down business decision.
So it will be, what would this earn us in the future? As an organisation that is majority selffunded, it has always about cashing prizes to us. So if this doesnt have some really tangible economic benefit and that could be about, actually, Ive got 10, 000 extra Facebook fans, and therefore, I can use that, and if it doesnt generate more business it doesnt have to be about selling a bunch of extra tickets through Facebook, or I can reduce the amount of box office staff I have because we are selling through Facebook now.
It could be any one of those outcomes. But if the none of those come to the table, then I would be very sceptical about us continuing the development of it.p