MW 2015 Recap – Strategy

Intense, inspirational and exhausting – that is how I’ve been describing Museums and the Web 2015 in Chicago to my colleagues. So exhausting that it has taken me this long to finally write down some of the themes I picked up on from the workshops and sessions I attended! Plus there were a lot of themes – so many that I’ve broken them into three posts. This one is about strategy and the big picture.

Challenges of deploying beacons in museums

Drowning in M&Ms by Flickr User Vern Hart.

Measure Less, Question More

The last MW was all about the need to measure and we took it to heart. We’ve now learned that if you measure too much you will drown in data. So the process has been refined: first decide what question you want to ask, then how you will answer, and how that answer will impact your work – only measure things that you can take some sort of action on.

Seb Chan’s recipe: “I want to know [metric] so that I can [action] by doing [method]” You need actions tied to your measurements otherwise it’s a waste of time.

Take data with a grain of salt – understand its limitations.

Use benchmarks to understand what normal is. There are industry specific ones that can help you measure like with like – Google Analytics has a benchmark tool with a “Museums and Library” category.

You need at least 6 months of data to make any conclusions.

Quantity metrics on social are things like retweets, favourites, comments, shares, post clicks, and website visits referred by social. These quantity metrics are more meaningful than number of followers and number of likes because they tell you more about engagement with your content. Same goes for web metrics – visit frequency, recency, depth and new vs. returning user tells you more than visits, visitors and page-views.

Tell a story with the data when reporting and use multiple methods – ex quotes, word clouds, pretty graphs, etc.

Recommended measuring tools:

Challenges of deploying beacons in museums

Deploying digital throughout the museum

Mandy Kritzeck of the Corning Museum of Glass spoke about how she has trained people across departments on how to make their own updates in the backend of the website and upload their own content. Alyssa McLeod from the ROM explained how to incorporate digital in the very beginning of projects, rather than adding it in at the end as an afterthought. The trend seems to be museum digital departments unclenching our grasp around digital and sharing it. With training this becomes something many people are capable of contributing to and also is a central part of all museum work including project management.

Looking beyond the Museum Field

The Chicago Symphony presented on ways they encourage repeat visitors. Disney’s magic bracelet was brought up in the privacy session as an example of how people are willing to trade their privacy if they get a benefit from it. The video crit itself may not have looked externally but the conversation around it on twitter did talking about YouTube stars and the style of video that they create. More museums should look to successful channels outside the museum world and try to emulate what they do well.

What is the purpose of museums today?

When I heard this brilliance from Peter Samis I wanted to take it one step farther – that museums are not necessarily primarily a space for learning but a space for visitors to express their creativity and be inspired. This is probably a whole other post about the purpose of museums in today’s society. But it is something that I’ve been turning in the back of my mind and these comments helped me express where I see the future of museums.

What are museums for? It’s not to bore the socks off our patrons with bland facts that we want them to remember to feel like they learned and that we have accomplished something. It’s also not to condescendingly expect them to not need any information at all to make an interpretation of an object. It’s about inspiring creativity and allowing them to use our space and collection to express themselves. Do you agree? Or not?

Stay tuned for two more posts on the following topics from MW: museum website crit, what teachers want from museum websites, museum video crits, how museums are using instagram, audio guides, and BYOD.

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