Digital visitors are visitors too: How digital engagement impacts your museum's bottom line

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Digital Visitors are Visitors too

Digital Visitors are Visitors tooW. Ryan Dodge@wrdodger #musesocial

#AMAconference2016

Good morning everyone!

Id like to thank the Alberta Museums Association team for inviting me to your beautiful province. I really appreciate the opportunity to share some of my experiences with all of you.

I'll share these slides on social later today, but please feel free to use you phone during this chat, if I see heads down I know youre taking notes or tweeting rather than playing PokemonGo. I'll also be tweeting a little bit throughout this chat, sharing links and resources so keep an eye on the conference hashtag and if you could snap a pic of me up here my mom would really appreciate it...

About MeBA - HistoryMA - Museum StudiesNOT A TECHNOLOGISTLong suffering Leafs fanLOVES Museums

I've done a great deal of work on this topic over the last 7 years and I hope what we discuss today will help you and your organization move some conversations forward.

*CLICK*

Ive worked at the ROM for ten years and Ive done almost everything except dust the objects. In 2008 I got my first iPhone while I was managing the visitor services team and I began thinking about how this tool was going to revolutionize the visitor experience. In 2009 while working in the ROM's Library and Archives, I took on a volunteer role guiding social media strategy with four other colleagues. In early 2010 I started my Museum Studies Masters at Johns Hopkins University and my first project was developing a strategic and content plan for an iphone app which the ROM released the following year.

Im a history nerd, I have no formal computer science training, Im just like many of you here today. In my opinion digital technology enables us to connect with more people and to better share collections based stories. My goal is to excite and educate people about cultural and natural history through technology, not deliver technology projects for technology's sake.

The great thing about my work is that there are no hard and fast rules, just lessons learned and I hope some of the lessons Ive learned over the last 7 years will be helpful to you as we all try to make room for our organizations online. It is a very crowded space!

Were going to talk about...

Digital representations are not a replacement for the real thingDigital technology is your friendDigital engagement builds awareness and reputationDiscussion

Ive been leading digital engagement at the ROM full time since 2012 and have learned a great deal about how to merge the onsite and online visitor experience, because, well, our visitors have already merged their two worlds. Digital and physical should no longer be thought of as two separate entities, just look at anyone under 35 and how they use technology.

I want to put to rest the lingering assumption that putting digital representations online erodes your physical visitation. Well look at how and why digital technology is a powerful tool. Were going to cover how your digital engagement presence builds your organizations reputation and how that effects revenue and to finish off well go over how to build your digital capacity with no budget.

But before we get into all that lets look at the digital landscape in 2016.

A global digital agency called We are Social puts out a massive Digital compendium of stats and trends each year. It was the best collection of data I could find but you can also find this information in various reports from PEW, Neilsen or Forrester, or any other global research firm.

I pulled 3 slides out of the over 700 that are most relevant to our chat today.

Just under half the worlds population has access to the internet and over 2 billion people have a mobile device.

The pace of growth doesnt show any signs of slowing down either, at 17% annual growth, mobile is quickly taking over and this has huge implications for museums.

Weve known since 2008 that mobile was going to change our world and now 60% of traffic to the ROMs website comes from mobile.

We're at the point now we have to be thinking mobile first in everything we do.

Now heres something you dont see everyday, Canadian specific numbers, these from January 2016. If you want to look deeper into these reports just google we are social 2016 digital playbook.

Whats interesting to note is that out of a population of 36 million people, 33 million have access to the internet, thats one, if not the highest penetration rates in the world. Almost 2/3 of Canadians are active on social with the majority of those people accessing social via a mobile device. 84% of the population has a mobile device. 84%. Mobile first is imperative.

Canadians are also the most active Facebook users in the world and at the ROM 70% of our facebook community accesses our page via mobile.

This is a HUGE potential audience base. Are we doing enough for these people?

In my humble opinion museums are the dog and digital technology is that burger. Is it a shame that digital almost has to hit us in the face for us to realize it is there. How many exhibition meetings have you sat in where everything else has been decided and someone puts up their hand and says, oh, maybe we should add some digital in there? Like its a condiment that we forgot about...the data suggests we need to change our thinking and have that discussion earlier in the process.

Many museums are just missing out on snatching that juicy burger because they don't integrate digital into their processes, it is still an afterthought for us when it is in the forefront of our visitors minds. So what are we waiting for? Is it fear? Lack of resources? A little of both?

Lets get rid of that fear right now and Ill tackle the lack of resource question a little later on..

Digital representations replacement for the real thing

What does the top 10s digital footprint look like? Collections Online?Digital Engagement Presence?Photography allowed?

I still hear people arguing against leveraging digital technology on a regular basis. We cant put it online they say, No one will come they say. I am shocked to hear this in 2016, 2006 maybe but the internet has been around for 25 years now.

The problem with this assumption is that if you look there is actual evidence to dispel it.

Lets look at it this way. Here are the most visited Art museums in the world as of 2015, via the Art Newspaper. If you still believe having a robust online presence is detrimental to physical visitation than these top ten museums must be non-existent online? They have globally recognized collections so that's why people visit, right?

Well, lets take a quick look at the digital footprint of the top 10 museums.

Collections Online?

All have some form of their collections online. Some more robust than others but you can search all of them. Even the Vatican Museum has some of their collection online, it is housed in a website design that looks like it hasnt changed since the early days of the internet, but it is there.

*CLICK*

The British Museum has an impressive 2.2 million records that represent 3.5 million collections items. WOW.

The National Palace Museum in Taipei even has 3D representations online that you can view in virtual reality if you have the gear.

Theres an overwhelming amount of information and images available, the British Museum even allows you to download images of their objects for personal use for free.

No, the world is not coming to an end.

But I mean, look at this photo. If youve even been to the British Museum youll recognize this, it is an amazing experience to see the Rosetta Stone in person, but it is also terrible. If youre lucky you only get a few seconds in front of the object before someone elbows you out of the way or if youre taller you can tip toe over people's shoulders for a glimpse but there is no lingering. You really have to work your way in there to see it at all

3D rosetta stone

https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/the-rosetta-stone/DgH6pMM1guUUPA

Being able to zoom in on the rosetta stone like this on the Google Arts & Culture website is pretty badass and I dont have to elbow my way through a crowd to see it, or deal with all of those nose and finger prints smudges on the glass. BUT, I still visited the British Museum the last time I was in London to see this piece of rock in person. Before I went, I did research online first. I found a ton of information on the British Museum website about the stone, even a bibliography of published material.

No matter what anyone tells you, putting up collections online wont deter visitors, in fact, it gives those visitors who are interested, a place to satisfy their interest. The Rosetta Stone has very little interpretation onsite. Digital collections entice people and enrich their experience, it doesn't supplant a physical visit

4.3 million Mona LisasArguably the most famous painting ever, in the most visited museumLouvre link is 3rd behind two Wikipedia pagesWe cant put it online, no one will come

Another example, a quick google search shows there are millions of images of the Mona Lisa online and yet the Louvre is the perennial most visited museum in the world. Hmmmmmm.

If you believe the assumption that having a robust online presence erodes physical visitation then why are 9 million people visiting the Louvre every year?

People are still visiting the Mona Lisa in person even though it is a terrible experience as well.

*CLCK*

And heres her point of view. Do these people look happy? Look at this dude here.

Digital Engagement

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