The most important driver for the cultural sector to put digital at its heart is the changing expectations of our audiences.
According to a report by MTM London, 53% of online users are engaging with arts and culture online, and we know that online engagers are highly likely to engage in real life (oft referred to by geeks like me as IRL).
Don’t be daunted by the jargon, or put off by the scale of the task. It is possible to segment online users by attitude and behaviour and target online activities to them. This is a huge part of my work now as an Audience Development Consultant specialising in digital engagement. I have been working on some ambitious digital projects, and thought I would share some ‘nibble-sized’ toolkits to help organisations navigate this process.
MTM London identified three user types who display particular attitudes and behaviours to both arts/culture and the internet/digital:
- Confident Core
- Late Adopters
- Leading Edge
I have taken these broad profiles and amalgamated them with some of the segmentation models most used in the cultural sector. So that if you already have an audience development plan referring to Acorn, Mosaic, or Arts Audiences: Insight segments, you can slot these digital engagement ideas into your action plan easily. What is really interesting is when you realise that one segment may fall into multiple user types. For example ‘family and community focused’ audiences may fall into any of the user type groups, meaning that the whole range of interaction categories (see below) may be justifiably deployed.
It is also an interesting and useful process for those tasked with delivering digital engagement to decide which group you belong in. It may help to open your mindset and empathise more with those who have higher or lower digital engagement than you.
In this first nibble-sized toolkit we’ll sketch out an approach to engaging the most numerous online user type:
Confident Core make up 29% of all UK internet users. They are mainstream internet users, comfortable performing a range of tasks online, including purchasing tickets and using social and rich media. They have an active interest in the arts and culture and regularly attend or participate in live arts and cultural activities.
Confident Core are most likely to attend museums, galleries, public art displays or installations.
Confident Core are typically aged 16 – 44 years old, with a slight skew towards males, and likely to be of above average education levels and social grade (ABC1)
Arts Audience: Insight segments potentially included in this user type are Traditional Culture Vultures, Dinner and a Show, Mature Explorers and Family and Community Focused.
This segment sees the internet as its primary channel for discovering, filtering, planning and buying tickets to live events.
We can see from the Interaction Pyramid below that this places Confident Core at the lower end of online interaction.
- Access: discovering what’s on, filtering opportunities and planning attendance or participation
- Learn: acquiring new skills and knowledge (for example, finding out more about the life of an artist)
- Experience: experiencing the full creative or artistic work online
- Share: using the internet to share content, experiences and opinions
- Create: use of the Internet to assist with the creative process itself.
All these parameters of information are really useful in devising digital engagement strategy for Confident Core. We can now assert that digital strategy should support the key user needs of discovery, filtering, learning, and (to a lesser extent) experience. If you want to engage online with this group, here are my top five tips:
1. Be discoverable through search engines and social media: Search engine optimisation (SEO) is crucial as Google is a key tool for discovering new content. In addition, we need to make content readily available across the key social networking sites (especially YouTube and Facebook)
2. Be in the audiences’ chosen online spaces: Have a presence in the online spaces where the Confident Core audience spends most time – including the major listings and aggregator sites, but also the major portals – rather than expecting the audience to seek you out online
3. Whet appetites: offer opportunities for sampling content and provide plenty of evidence to support decision-making. This user type is interested in video clips, virtual tours, podcasts and other rich media content that can give them a flavour for the live event
4. Be informative and credible: Enthusiastic about online learning, this user type wishes to use online content to get the best out of their offline arts and cultural engagement by finding out more about artists/performers and events/exhibitions, either before or after attending. Increase your profile and website page ranking by linking with authority to online resources which support your programming, learning, research and teaching activities.
5. Online booking and buying is a must. This group will expect a seamless online transactional experience, whether that is booking a seat or class, or purchasing an item from your online shop. There may also be some limited opportunities for revenue from paid-for content if it offers something of real value – such as a mobile app that supports the live experience.
Next time we’ll look at the Late Adopter user type, and ways of maximising online engagement with this cautious but crucial group.
If you would like to discuss how I could help you with your digital strategy just get in touch!