Things to remember when defining and implementing a digital strategy
Last week I blogged a summary of the Digital Strategy Masterclass run by Jasper Visser as part of Intercom 2012. Running through the Digital Engagement Framework as a planning process was a useful exercise. But it also allowed time to consider bigger issues around digital engagement and strategic planning. There were a few key points that I took away from the day:
Plan your strategy
Having a strategy to engage audiences digitally is important, but thorough planning of the strategy is what will ultimately lead to success. In the workshop there were some particular points that resonated with me:
- Organisation wide consultation and communication – a digital strategy should have input from a wide range of people across the institution and should be clearly communicated to everyone. Leaving the digital strategy to one person or area will mean that employees will not be good advocates or supporters of the engagement.
- Think digital from the start – digital engagement should not be an add-on, for it to be successful it needs to be a core part of general business planning. If all employees have an understanding of, and interest in, the digital strategy then engagement can be better achieved. Eg. If you are planning digital from the outset of a new exhibition, you could ensure the title of the exhibition is tweet-friendly.
- Make it easy for the audience – logistical considerations and active encouragement can aid participation. Things to consider include: wifi access (open and without sign-in processes), photography actively encouraged, and key ideas/quotes that are less than 140 characters to enable people to tweet them.
Having a strategy to engage audiences digitally is important, but thorough planning of the strategy is what will ultimately lead to success.
Know your platform
One of the key messages I took away from the discussion of platforms is the importance of understanding how they work and who is using them. This would mean that ongoing staff training and keeping abreast of usage and popularity is essential. It also means understanding the processes used by different platforms and knowing which users engage with them and how they use it. For example:
- Know best-practise - Understand what makes a successful post, tweet, update, review response etc.
- Use the tools - Make the best use of each platform and understand the necessity of things like: regularity, linked posts, hashtags, consistency, timing, voice/opinion, calls-to-action…
- Know how it works - Spend the time learning the algorithms and processes of key programs, eg. learn how google ranks results and how Facebook promotes posts (something I had a shock lesson in on the day!)
Balance meeting your audience and stretching them to something new
There was a lot of talk about working out what platform your audience is using and engaging with them through that medium. That makes sense. We also spoke about the people that aren’t using digital devices or are not part of social media. We don’t want to forget them. However, I also stopped to consider that this shouldn’t mean we are stuck planning for what people are currently using, without planning for future use. Keeping abreast of technology predictions and understand where your audience demographic is heading (eg. the rise of Millennial members), is equally as important. We need to consider our future audiences.
We need to be careful that we aren’t planning for something that is not in use by the time we implement our strategy. I also think it is important to encourage visitors to stretch the use to a new area. Particularly working with education audiences, there is value in creating supported ways to engage learners in new digital modes.
Always audience first
For me, a positive message of the day was the constant consideration of audience. Working in digital engagement can be very rewarding because the focus is on the audience; their interests, needs and interactions. Occasionally though, I think this can be forgotten by museums. Of course museums still need to collect, conserve and all the other behind-the-scenes things that audiences may not appreciate. However it was great to hear the constant message of sharing data, looking for links to audience interaction and looking for ways to have a positive impact on our audiences.
These were the main takeaways for me from the day. I wonder if they gel with other people’s experiences and expectations. Do you agree with those points I’ve highlighted as important? What other key ideas have I missed?