Seizing the Opportunity Online


An event by Arts Council England , supported by Google and curated by Culture 24.

On Tuesday, I was very nicely invited to attend ‘Digital Change – Seizing the Opportunity Online’ curated by Culture 24 at Birmingham Hippodrome. Rubbing shoulders with arts organisations from the midlands, I spent the day engaged in talks and debates exploring how the arts can further their audience engagement online deployed by an eclectic mix of people who are currently owning the internet.


Digital Change; Seizing online opportunities in Web Development, Online Marketing and Apps.

For a while now there has been some scepticism from the Arts World on how the industry can engage with communities through internet technology. The resistance hasn’t gone unnoticed, and Culture 24 successfully stretched its arm of support to the sector with talks covering everything from how to reach audiences right through to the different types of platforms that are available to explore the challenges faced by the Arts industry.

YouTube child celeb vlogger Charlie McDonnell (Charliessocoollike) started the days sessions off as the lead talker for ‘What can your business learn from some young YouTuber’. The strong audience of cultural organisations learnt that ‘TV is a monologue whilst YouTube is a conversation’ and listened intently as a group of supporting young people put questions to Charlie on how to make a career and grow through the platform. The session looked at how the arts can engage with younger audiences through Vlogging.

Some key points on Vlogging (video blogging)

  • Conversation; Online content should entice a discussion between viewers. Use the comment section to ask questions and answer your target market opinions. Charlies content ticks all the ‘cool’ boxes for his market. He isn’t afraid to deliver content the way young people want to receive it and cross boundaries for instance, he showed a quick video of him teaching science through RAP. This created a comical song that made you laugh and sounded pretty silly, but it worked for his market reaching over 2 million views.
  • Create Content that’s popular; look at YouTube trends and produce something that responds to those trends.
  • Post good honest content regularly; be true and honest in your dialogue by spending time with your audience and writing what they enjoy consuming. Post videos regularly to show YouTube search algorithms that you’re a consistent supplier of good content. If you are regular in your uploads, your audience will eventually be regular in their visits.

Google took over for the second session looking at how arts and cultural organisations should invest in Search Engine Optimisation to get found through their search engine. Embarrassingly for the RSC, Google used their site as an example failure, with a page linked from the search results to an error page (Ouch). The basics on how to increase the potential of a website applied here;

  • looking at the search behaviour of your audience (standing in their shoes looking for what the arts organisation do) and implement the terms and phrases they type into Google through your content
  • create key performance pages and link to them from the menu (pages dedicated to answer the search terms and phrases)
  • erase all broken links from the site,
  • ensure you have an accessible site-map page
  • get educated with Googles Web Master Tools to really improve the ability of your website
  • make sure your sites mobile friendly
  • get links back to your site from relevant sources and quality organisations
  • embed social sharing on your website.

Arts and culture digital practitioner and One Further founder Chris Unit played a big part in the day and introduced us to Arts Analytics. Four very different venues housing arts and culture in different ways took part in a project to gather research on how data analytics can help us to understand the behaviour of our audience and build reach by improving our online presence to adhere to those user patterns.

The RSC, MAC, Audience Agency, Bristol Museums and the V&A all gave a short talk on how they have benefitted from the analysis of online user data. Looking at Google Analytics, SEO, Social Media Measurement and eCommerce, data is gathered on the users journey, showing what pages work best, what don’t and how audience interact with a brand online – what’s there best social network etc. It was an eye opening view into how we can evaluate user metrics to increase the ability of websites, increase our find ability and increase site visits.

Wrapping the day up was the ‘Feeding cultural content into other channels’ which explored the variety of channels out there that can home certain types of content more efficiently and produce a wider network of content feeding back to your site. Birmingham Museums talked about using Instagram and Facebook as a medium to exploit images of their exhibitions, thus sharing the exhibitions with larger audiences.

In a nutshell, the event was really just an opportunity to be reminded of what you can get out of the internet to benefit your organisation. Although some new ground was covered by Chris Unitt and it was slightly entertaining to watch Charlie, the event didn’t tell us what we didn’t already know however, it was a supportive event for arts and culture organisations and provide the perfect platform to meet, greet and schmooze with some of the regions finest institutions.

Check out this Storify of the event (another little peak into how certain platforms can increase our presence online).