- Content which gets people to take a deeper look at our work, to explore it from a new perspective, or to enrich their understanding of
an artist, artwork or topic;
- Content which shares artistic experiences with a broader audience;
- Content which grabs attention, gains wider awareness, and draws
- Content which starts conversations, which generates retweets, likes and comments;
- Content which encourages people to interact with
and revisit your site, to develop an ongoing relationship with your
- And, crucially, content to encourage sales and offline attendance.
Deciding whose responsibility is it to plan and develop online content – a digital specialist, a marketer, a programmer
or curator – ultimately depends on the size and culture of your organisation. However,
if we want to offer digital experiences that reinforce the live experience, this
must be considered at a senior level and across the organisation.
Have you had this discussion within your own organisation? How are you deciding what gets produced, written, and shared online and when?
Who needs to be involved in:
- defining what you’re trying to achieve with digital content – who is it for? what impact do you want it to have? what do you want people to do as a response to it?
- selecting the content – which audience stories, press quotes, video promotions, artist interviews, curator viewpoints, participant photos etc. will you use and how will they work together to deliver your aims?
- finding the right media (and right mix of media) to convey your message and content?
- the meticulous process of fine tuning, correcting, proofing and condensing the content?
- considering how and when to share it?
- thinking about how to re-purpose it for a range of other platforms?
- and getting the measurement in place to track what works and what doesn’t?
To do this well, we as arts organisations will need to develop staff with good, old-fashioned editing and publishing skills. Editing requires strategic thinking, creativity, a great ability to work with and influence others, an incredible attention to detail, and an organised, timetabled plan. And we need to ensure that this is done in a joined-up way across the organisation. There is much to learn from the publishing industries about how best to achieve this. For example, check out the Three Little Pigs video created by the Guardian which highlights how they see their new role in publishing and sharing ‘the whole picture’.
Earlier this year, at the AMA conference, Ryan French, director of marketing and PR at Walker Art Gallery, described how their website has recently undergone a major rethink. The What’s On details are still there, but they see this as just one fifth of their site. The rest has become focused on exploring current issues around contemporary art through news items. Often, they will tie into something that’s happening at the Walker, but not necessarily; it might be from another arts organisation, or just something that has interested a curator.
There are eight feature stories on the homepage which rotate all day, usually getting swapped around a couple of times a week. Much of it is re-purposed content from other places like blogs, or from their magazine that goes to members, videos from their archive or collection catalogues. Ryan described how this re-purposing has become a key characteristic of the way their online material operates.
Creating great content is tricky, and doing this consistently – keeping it fresh and interesting across all platforms – takes time and skill. However, a great content marketing strategy could really help you to inspire your audience, to increase awareness and ultimately engagement with your organisation.
You can also read a full write-up of Ryan French’s presentation on the Walker Arts Center from the AMA 2012 conference.
– Julie Aldridge, Executive Director, AMA