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8th March 2019 Jacqueline Haxton

Challenging assumptions #DigiLab

Digital Lab Fellows Mária Konyelicska and Olivia Robinson from Nottingham Lakeside Arts have taken the first steps towards creating a social media guide by challenging their assumptions. 

Since deciding what our experiment was going to be a few months ago, we’ve taken the first steps in our journey towards better understanding our audiences and creating a social media guide. We always had some assumptions on who it was who was following us on social media and what type of content they wanted to see, but part of this process was finding out whether we were correct.

Our assumptions:


  • 20-35 years
  • More female followers
  • Engaged by visual arts
  • Single images work best, as well as stories


  • 25-50 years
  • 50/50 gender split
  • Engaged by theatre and dance
  • Image led tweets with hashtags and links work best


  • 25+ years
  • More female followers
  • Engaged by folk & classical music and family theatre/events
  • Video works best

Our actual findings:


  • 35-44 years are actually the second biggest group
  • 75% women
  • Not programme specific works best, but if it has to be programme based then visual arts are the most engaging
  • Single images work better than carousel or videos
  • Using hashtags helps


  • No age data available
  • 46% male / 54% female gender split
  • Engaged by music, talks, family events and general performing arts, so very varied
  • Topical and non-programme-specific tweets work best and not necessarily with an image
  • Hashtags and links are always useful
  • Retweets by influential accounts help endorse us


  • 72% women
  • 35-44 years is the top group, followed by 25-34 years and 45-54 years
  • Music and family are the most engaging art forms
  • Live content and video perform best

We decided to focus on the campaign promoting our art exhibition Harold Gilman: Beyond Camden Town (17 November 2018 — 10 February 2019, Djanogly Gallery) to test some of these findings.

The data we found on our social media followers and the performance of various post styles, we identified a few social media post types that we thought would perform better for the campaign. We used these as guides while scheduling all the posts related to the Harold Gilman exhibition from 22 December 2018 onwards; using exclusively the specifically tagged URLs for easier measurements (we added the data of the posts without hyperlinks). We benchmarked our reach and engagement levels against our previous campaign for the Rana Begum exhibition (7 July — 30 September 2018, Djanogly Gallery).

Guide for each platform:


  • No tagged URL
  • Use of single images, behind the scenes content, and hashtags to bring in new followers
  • Aim for a high-quality, stylish photography look


  • Use tagged URL
  • Topical posts, rather than inviting people to see the exhibition: more experience focused in content, i.e. photo of the lake, mention there’re two cafés on site, children activities on weekends, etc.
  • Use fun facts about the exhibition or specific works, e.g. that David Bowie owned one of the exhibited artworks
  • Use of #BeyondCamdenTown if appropriate
  • Tag other accounts in who might share our tweet, e.g. Things to do in Nottingham, What’s on Notts, Leftlion, Uni of Nottingham accounts, etc.
  • Tweets don’t necessarily need to contain an image


  • Use tagged URL
  • Focus on the ‘day out’ aspect to appeal to the family audiences: we have the park/playground, café, it’s free to see the exhibition. There is a Gilman activity sheet and drop-in craft events on Saturdays for children and families (AIM). Mention they can leave feedback in the visitor book and have conversations with the Gallery assistants.
  • Post many videos and when not possible, always use image(s).


Listen to Mária and Olivia’s first #DigiLab podcast Our Digital Lab journey and watch their #DigiLab vlog Social media audiences

Images courtesy of Nottingham Lakeside Arts ©.

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