Digital media and communication

Background research for Argos Centre for Arts and Media. Maxim Surin 2009–2010.
Back to the Index

Issues

With…

The web invites us to think and act with people, rather than for them, on their behalf or even doing things to them.
Art is not embodied in an object but lies in the encounter between the art and the audience, and among the audience themselves.
Art is not simply the result of self-expression by the artists of a preconceived idea but the result of communication with the audience and other partners in the process.

The artist’s role is not just to proclaim but to listen, interpret, incorporate ideas and adjust. So an organization can pull on more ideas from outside, especially from users and contributors /crowd sourcing/.
There is open innovation out where organizations give out more of their knowledge for others to use and re-use, even if the original source of this knowledge was experts working behind closed doors.
Some approaches are closed in the creation of knowledge but open in its publication and access.

Closed in, open out
Openness is a matter of degree, just as participation is.
There are many different ways for people to collaborate, in many different kinds of activities, from fund raising, to feedback and participation in a work.

It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you
‘Culture on the web’ encompasses many forms: information sources, portals, digitized collections, interactivity, social software, RSS feeds, personal curating, file sharing, community-generated interpretation.
The next trend will be for these web resources to converge even further with mobile technology, making access to web content more fluid.
One challenge that will face the next generation of technological innovation in culture is how to mesh increasingly personalized culture with the desire for communal experience. Technology will develop to serve and to enable both these facets of contemporary culture.
Tools to customize and personalize our online activity and to create small groups will flourish, alongside the huge proliferation of raw content.

Principal issues

  • Development both new and more collaborative approaches to sustaining visitor base
  • Strategic alliances between organizations, better connections to culturally diverse communities and organizations or new income streams
  • Exploration, experimentation, investigation, evaluation

Online activity – Participation. Conversation. Collaboration
What we have seen is that the web’s center of gravity has shifted from merely being a source of broadcast information to a platform for dynamic conversations – this is what is known as the social web.
The fundamental promise is the transition from 1-way to 2-way communication.

Two-way channel
Promotes participation: encourages people to deliver something into the organisation identity.
If they have put something of themselves into it they will have a different relationship to your organization
Cost effective niche and broad audiences: enables you to work with both audiences – either people just interested in video art or those with a broader interest in cinema, for example.

Engage in conversation with the audiences
People want to talk to people not organizations.
Organisation should look to curate their footprint on the social web so that they are accessible to their audiences in ways that support genuine dialogue. Democratic collaboration is not an elixir for success.
Acutely aware of when to encourage free participation and when to exercise control.
Fine-tuning this balance will have to be different for every project.

Room for your audiences and supporters
As we move from participation to conversation, the numbers begin to drop off simply because not everyone has the time or inclination to engage in that way.
And there are fewer still who have the appetite or indeed the skill set to collaborate.
So the engagement levels of conversation and collaboration can never and should never be one of volume.
According to this rule-of-thumb, only a very small number of people will be collaborators, a few more will be quite active in conversation and the vast majority will simply be participants.
However everyone benefits from the value produced by the most engaged 1% and likewise the 90% really care what the 9% are talking about for even if they are not actively joining in, they are certainly listening.
Once the community’s form and the 90:9:1 profile asserts itself, nurture each group accordingly to their level of contribution.

Networking

Network experts not expert networks
Networks systems and digital media will and already have changed the practice of curating.
As long as we speak about the presentation of digital media, as well as a dynamic idea of an exhibition that includes the visitor actively: the curatorial attention itself has moved from the object to processes and dynamic networks.
The user itself takes over filtering functions, takes part in a personal or even public selection process.

On-demand exhibition
The show turned the visitor into an explorer and partly a curator – to whatever degree they wished. Network systems can also be understood and used as tools for curating, presentation, education and mediation of art in a digital form.
Cultural institutions, online and offline, will still be necessary to provide a context, to function as a provider or archive. The roles of curator and user remain up for discussion and interchange. How we can successfully merge offline projects with online platforms?

Networking ( Practical Guide ).
Search Engine Optimization SEO
The majority of Internet users rely on search engines and directories. Therefore, ranking highly in search engines and directories should be critical to your Internet marketing strategy. Because users generally only explore the first 10 or 20 sites in the search results, an understanding of how search engine ranking works and how to get your site in the top 20 results can make an enormous difference in the amount of visitor traffic your site receives.

Loyalty Programs
Unlike their offline versions, online loyalty programs can be relatively inexpensive to integrate. It is possible to create a protected sub-site, accessible only by password. Such a “virtual community” for visitors – providing chat rooms, personal web pages and e-mail addresses – can be a very valuable way of building up loyalty with the audience you are trying to reach. These are people with whom you will probably want to build up a long term relationship – artists, collectors, for example. Making it easy for them to contact you will be a valuable short – cut to your site.

Strategic linking ( pingbacks and trackbacks )
The web as a medium is unusual and strengthened by the use of hyperlinks, active links that enable users to be redirected to the right site very quickly. Sites that have a lot of other sites linking to them will naturally receive more traffic. More links = more traffic = more visitors. Links with related sites can stay in place for long periods, ensure targeted traffic and can often be arranged free of charge or by reciprocal link agreement.

Sponsorships and partnering
Sponsoring strategic content on popular web sites is another way to secure a site audience. Exclusivity is the key here – if you provide a unique service or information on a major portal, it lends credibility to your brand and increases customer interest in your own site. Placing articles can be very cheap, given that most websites are desperate for new editorial copy.

Hyperlinks
Hypertext is the most prominent web – writing feature. It is a powerful weapon in enabling readers to go quickly to another source, or reference, but can be damaging if it encourages readers to leave before they have finished reading your message. Use sparingly.

Blogging as a promotional tool
These days marketing campaigns target blogs because there’s no question that blogs are the perfect viral marketing medium and an excellent way to promote an event or message. Directly target the most influential bloggers and blog posting sites with an interest in their area and integrate their message into those venues.

Pitching a blog
The most important thing a publicist can do before pitching to a blogger is to read his or her blog. Bloggers are sensitive about becoming marketing tools for other organizations and companies, which is often the reason they began blogging in the first place. The emphasis must be on supplying useful information that can help a blogger make more of his or her blog, and attract more attention to it. Remember all bloggers dream of seeing their name in lights – somewhere!

Developing a corporate blog
Because corporate blogs can be effective marketing tools, especially in niche industries where little news is published in the mainstream press, corporate blogs are the next big step in corporate communications.
Corporate blogs can be used in a number of ways to strengthen relationships, share knowledge, increase collaboration and improve organisation identity. Foremost, a corporate blog can be used to strategically position the authors as industry experts and opinion leaders.
Corporate Blogs, and the numbers of people who manage and write them, are growing at a phenomenal rate. A shortage of good professionals is seen as the biggest limiting factor (by 69% of respondents) to the further growth of corporate blogging.
Blogs offer a good means of providing authentic two-way communication with the public. As a general principle, a corporate blog positions you as open and friendly (rather than just leaving users of your service to interact with you via the formal website).

Tracking & monitoring
Tracking and reacting to your campaign’s successes are critical in maintaining an effective marketing campaign.
From your website statistics to PPC numbers, there are many ways to determine what is working and what isn’t.

Audience

Audiences
From ‘what sort of relationship should we have with our public?’ to ‘what relationships do the public want from us?’.
A few observations:
Desire to belong to networks, institutions, organisations etc
Desire to be entertained, which is what arts organizations do
Fragmentation of the audience.
Producing works on different platforms (social networks)
Desire to communicate.

Culture organisation surely has a part to play in this – enabling people to communicate with each other. Desire to participate. Tag things, comment, collect. It is changing attitudes to professional production and it also means that people want immediate feedback and reaction.

Tasks:
1. Connect people to content. Guiding. (Who’s in control? Curator? Artists? Collaborative filtering?)
Widen your footprint. Connections with other objects or experiences – put visitors in touch with other things Personal. Artist/ curator media channel. Person/ location
2. Connect people to each other. Be a hub, a connector. Find others with similar interests. Find local partners. Belong.
That’s partly what private views at galleries are about, so can you extend this with the website?
3. Help run your marketing Enable feedback and use it to improve what you do Find out more about your audiences
Enable audience to: recruit others, add value for you

Argos_audiences

Make the chain: Engage. Guide. Communicate. Create or Do Something.

Need to design a whole user journey. With careful use, new technologies can: enable each stage lower barriers between stages help to create virtuous circles help people to learn, grow or develop

Strategy

With transparency comes the ability to develop a more meaningful and intimate relationship with readers/ visitors/ funders/ sponsors, turning the identity into a love mark, not just a logo. Get feedback on new ideas quickly and cheaply. Directly engage them to work on behalf and ensure that message is delivered as intended.Nurture your relationships; protect contacts from constant requests, provide regular updates and ideas for increased involvement.

Tactics which can help generate demand and build audiences – as part of a strategy – include:
Social networks. Changing the content in order to better reflect the culture and interests of the target audiences can generate demand for an activity.
Taking culture to familiar settings. Identity: Personal relevance. Reinterpretation. Reinterpreting the meaning or significance of collections and exhibitions can help create relevance for different groups.
Awareness campaigns. Alerting people to the opportunities available to them, which are of relevance, is key to driving demand.
Cultural relevance. Thematic approaches. The use of universal themes can cut across social – economic and ethnic boundaries and appeal to a broader audience.

Strategy issues: Create contact strategies – sequence of contacts for different segments Develop a Collection Strategy/ master list of titles Clear distribution focused on performance goals and time allocation Improvement in stability of long-term client relationships. Network

Personalization: individual, relevant and appropriate
Requires ‘cookies’ on websites, registration and log-ins – recognition of the person
Name in personal contact
Personal profiles on visitors using all the tools
Deliver ‘personalized’ communications. No longer about one corporate identity but different things for different people.

E-newsletters, web pages, micro-sites to provide specific messages to individuals: Link e-marketing campaigns back to specific web pages or micro-sites with content according to the recipients. Tailor content according to the audience

Serve different content according to profile, and for Members, Subscribers, and according to what people have seen
Put web visitors in control – give them choices: which newsletter? How often? Offer surveys and collect meaningful visitor specific information
Ask monitoring and tracking questions
Seek interaction and user generated content – at least photographs, reviews, and comments

Provide an in-depth archive of rich content. Archive of everything they have put on – artists comments, podcasts, reviews etc.

Run moderated forums, perhaps triggered with podcasts and blogs

Argos_timeline-capturing

Stakeholders

Organizational effectiveness in the culture sector is a multidimensional concept that cannot be captured using one universal model and should consider different stakeholders. Effective performance measurement rests on a clear mission statement. One of the main difficulties in this sector is balancing the amount of resources needed to achieve artistic excellence with the dire need for funding. Cultural organizations evolving in a complex managerial environment where these two objectives are in conflict.

Stakeholders:

Funding
Allocate resources to develop new relationships. Collaborate with other organizations to share advertising, develop new audiences, garner new stakeholders, or share resources. Many funders are now very interested in collaborative work. Collaborations may be cross discipline.

Artists
Meet the demands and expectations of your artists. Value.

Critics
General public/ clients

Audience satisfaction. Satisfaction with programming.

Donors/ Sponsors
Image within the artistic community

Community (in general)
Increase accessibility to and appreciation for your art within the community. Include other arts organizations, educational institutions, businesses and corporations, service, retail establishments.

Financial management
Cost control for productions. Revenues and expenses. Actual results versus budget.

New programming (innovation)
Personal, volunteers, interns

Personnel satisfaction. Strengthen internal communication mechanisms. Time spent on project management.

Tasks:

  • Identify stakeholders
  • Determine commitment level
  • Assess needs/concerns
  • Define change role

Stakeholder analysis is the first step of the communications process and allows for a structured and economical use of your communication channels.

  • General stakeholder/ communications methodology. Conduct analysis.
  • Develop and implement communication plan. Evaluate communication activities.
e-marketing

Potentials are in collected personal data and contact information. Building monitoring tool and reactive instruments to reach the audience, partners, collaborators and supporters will ease every – day routine for personnel.

e- marketing answering to these questions:
How effective are organizations at attracting visitors? keeping visitors online? bringing visitors back? converting visitors? what is the return on investment?

e-marketing can be seen to be cost – effective and valuable:
Getting a greater number and range of people to participate in online activities. Helping people to remain on your content – heavy websites for a long time improving customer involvement with your organization Important to you to monitor how many visits you retain from certain geographic groups or how many people are participating in your bulletin boards.

Recommendations:
Find ways to monitor what’s happening with organisation website and understand the benefits of collecting information systematically. These findings will become more valuable over time
Research should be repeated on an ongoing basis (at least annually)
Set clear objectives and monitor performance
Set traffic – building objectives – developing new visitors
Set objectives for keeping visitors online – make sure it’s easy for them to use and relevant Set retention targets – bringing visitors back

Plan resources prior to starting e-marketing campaigns
Review the purpose of your site and improve the opportunities for engaging with visitors Invest in e-mail marketing tracking software or considering ways of monitoring activity in house. Train staff to realize the potential of the internet
Compare online return on investment with offline return on investment and prepare integrated marketing strategies that optimize the use of all your marketing communications

Visibility

Visibility
Even if people aren’t staying for very long, the results show that organizations with websites are getting huge visibility – possibly much higher than for print.

Permission ratio Total number of unique visitors to your site in one month. Permission marketing encourages audiences/ attenders to participate in a long-term, two-way relationship with your organization. This ratio shows what percentage of visitors found your site valuable enough to ask for regular communication from you. Assuming that most of your visitors don’t already receive regular communication, you would hope that this is similar to the number who enquire about your organization based on other alternative communications i.e. how many people see your brochure and ask to be added to the mailing list?

Stickiness ratio page views per visit. This ratio indicates the average number of pages viewed for each visit to your site.

Average length of time spent on the website The second test of how ‘sticky’ your site is, is how long the average visitor spends on the site.

Elasticity ratio
This ratio looks at whether or not unique visitors are returning to your site, most useful when looking at the long- term. Consider how often your site is updated and what you want visitors to use your site for.

Conversion ratio
One of the benefits of e-marketing is that it enables a two-way communication with customers, not just sending the brochure out and hoping someone reads it, but it should enable us to track responses and gather valuable feedback, to develop an ongoing relationship, that provides a useful exchange of information and ideas. Out-of date sites will only damage your brand and poorly promoted sites are likely to be a waste of time – think about continuous traffic – building. Your website is not a finished product, but an ongoing communication and marketing tool.

e-mail marketing
The most efficient way to use e – marketing is to integrate survey software. / checkmarket.com, feedbackserver.com, questionpro.com, classapps.com / There are ways to track responses from e-mail campaigns. Link to a fake page on your website from the e-mail i.e. link to index1 rather than index and set-up index1 as a page which automatically redirects to index. Then use log file analysis to count how many hits index1 had. Create pages on the website which can only be found by being directed there from the e-mail i.e. not linked into the rest of the site navigation.