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Four key lessons from #DigiLab

Digital Lab Fellow Kim Osborne from the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre shares the four key lessons she’s learnt from the projects and experiments she’s undertaken as part of #DigiLab.  

So, we’re at the end of Digital Lab now, and this blog post is a good opportunity to reflect on what I’ve learnt over the last six months or so. Here are four key lessons from the projects and experiments I’ve carried out; some expected, some not! But they’re all great things to keep in mind when planning future digital projects.

1. Always take time to work out ‘why’ you are doing something.
I spent a long time at the beginning of Digital Lab trying to work the ‘why’ of the project. I had lots of ideas about exciting things I could make and test, but my mentor Ron Evans really made me drill down on why I should do these things. I eventually decided to make a series of films to gain audience feedback via email and Facebook, but initially I had just wanted to generally increase engagement on Facebook using film. Spending time thinking about why we needed engagement, and what types of engagement would help the Museum, enabled me to develop an idea that involved asking our audiences specific questions, the answers to which would be useful for many Museum projects.

This approach helped me step back for a second to develop some well-considered ideas and eliminate some ideas that might not be so beneficial.

I now find myself taking more time at this stage with other projects and plans, and it’s made a difference to how I communicate my ideas too.

2. Don’t operate in a silo — make the most of all those around you.
Because the feedback I was looking for was potentially useful for various Museum projects, it meant the I needed to talk to people across the Museum team. This helped me to understand their views on the content I was creating, and we worked together to devise a set of mutually beneficial questions. These conversations also gave me more ideas and insights, gave me a greater understanding of the Museum as a whole, and led to the development of future projects. Win, win!

3. Planning ahead makes perfect sense!
This is kind of covered in point one, but I don’t think it can be overstated, especially for me — planning is key. I can be a bit too eager to get on with things sometimes, and always in a rush to tick things off my list and get on to the next thing. I do plan, but probably don’t always take enough time on the planning stages, so for this project I made sure I thoroughly and methodically went through each stage. This was helped by the two points above, but also on my mentor’s insistence on making storyboards for my films, which I have to admit not only helped me when it came to making them, but also helped me to share those ideas with others. And helped me to develop a new skill, which is always handy.

4. Don’t underestimate email.
The biggest surprise of the project for me was the response to the emails I sent. Although my focus was on sharing films on Facebook, I set up a test on our email list initially. This was so I could split my audience up fairly and test film and non-film content alongside each other.

After all my storyboarding, filming and editing it turns out that my emails with plain text questions were more successful than those with embedded links to my films. In fact, they were also more successful than the films I posted on Facebook. I had so many replies to my emails despite our relatively small number of subscribers — some people writing up to 300 words — that it made me think about the untapped potential of our email list, something I’ve definitely overlooked.

So, based on these results my next steps are: 1) think about email — what can we do with this audience to help us achieve our goals? And 2) what can we do with film on social media? What kind of content will deliver the results we’re looking for?

Now for some more experiments…

Read Kim’s previous Digital Lab blogs: Remember the why #DigiLab and All about the making #DigiLab

Images courtesy of The Roald Dahl Museum © The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.