Digital technology and social media can be very useful for marketing events and projects at your museum and in particular for audience development and participation.
Websites offer the opportunity for audiences to comment on and share digital content, and also generate their own content in response. This represents a shift towards the idea of more participatory museums and the growing importance of involving both physical and virtual communities in the creation and interpretation of exhibitions and museum events. Nina Simons from the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History writes a blog devoted to the participatory museum.
Building a Digital Strategy
Choosing appropriate methods to reach and interact with relevant audiences for your museum can at first seem daunting and it is worth starting by researching and planning who your target audiences are and the best media for reaching them.
A good starting point might be referring to the Digital Engagement Framework created by Jasper Visser and Jim Richardson, which investigates the questions of how and why to develop a digital media strategy for your museum.
Martin Bazley has put some useful material online on: Online audiences in cultural heritage with suggestions for deciding who you should target when planning a digital museum project.
Digital Agency Carousel30 have created an easy-to-follow, 7-step process for creating a digital strategy for nonprofit organisations, which can be downloaded free as an e-book. Click here to read it in PDF format.
There are many other useful networks and links for investigating audience development and digital marketing. The Arts Marketing Association is a membership network for arts professionals interested in bringing the arts and audiences closer together. An annual subscription provides access to networking and best practice events, relevant journals and case studies.
Web technology can be used for both quantitative and qualitative evaluation of projects and certain websites offer simple and free yet in depth analysis. Google Analytics allows you to track data about users to your website or blog including how many visitors, how long they stayed, which web pages or content they used, where they come from, their age and gender, how they reached your website and whether they are returning or unique visitors.
Survey Monkey is a simple and free way to collect audience responses via an online questionnaire and is ideal for qualitative evaluation of a website, exhibition or event. It also transfers well to mobile phone platforms so visitors to your museum can be directed to it via a QR code or web link and can leave feedback easily on location or on the move.
The Museums Computer Group is a discussion forum for museums, galleries and archives using new technologies. You can subscribe to their blog feed to get regular updates.