Could you be a Museum and Heritage Ambassador?

Image from the Museum of Science and IndustryImage from the Museum of Science and Industry, copyright Chris FosterAMA Culture logo

The AMA is growing and we are looking for people like you to expand our current team of Museum and Heritage Ambassadors – to be advocates of the AMA and to promote the value of membership.

The AMA sees this role as part of its extended team and each Ambassador will play a crucial role in the organisation’s brand story and communications strategy.

What’s in it for you?

  • A complimentary place at the 2015 AMA Conference
  • A unique chance to work alongside colleagues from all over the country
  • Building your own contacts throughout the arts and cultural sector
  • Sharing your knowledge to benefit the wider arts and cultural sector
  • An opportunity to build on your business and networking skills
  • A chance to be part of the development of marketing training within the museum sector and influence decision makers

What we ask you to do

  • Identify potential members in your region and pro-actively promote the benefits of AMA membership
  • Represent the AMA in your region for your sector
  • Share current marketing developments within the sector to help devise programmes that keep the AMA up to date with the museum sector

If you are an enthusiastic AMA member working in the museum sector you might just be what we’re looking for! We ask Ambassadors to commit approximately 2 hours a month to fulfil this role; during this time you will be networking, seeking out potential AMA members within the museum sector and being a positive advocate for the AMA brand.

If you would like to apply to be a Museum and Heritage Ambassador please download the information pack and application form:

AMA Museum and Heritage Ambassadors Programme Outline

AMA Museum and Heritage Ambassador application form

The closing date is 1pm on Monday 11 May 2015.

Online training for new Ambassadors will take place on Tuesday 19 May, 2-4pm.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact

Social Media Engagement 101

Facebook Engagement diagram

Mikolai Napieralski is a Digital Marketing and Communications Expert. This post was originally presented as a talk at the Museums and Web Asia 2014 conference in South Korea. @artsdigital101

It’s nice to be popular. And when it comes to social media, popularity is easy to measure – the more friends or followers you have, the more popular you are.

At least that’s how it used it work… but social media is evolving. And organisations are realizing that their social media metrics need to go beyond a simple popularity contest. In other words, the quality of your friends and followers is just as important as the quantity.

That’s where engagement rates come in. An engagement rate is the percentage of people who saw a post and responded to it by either

  • liking it,
  • sharing it,
  • clicking on it,
  • commenting on it.

It’s important because it helps us measure public interest in the content we’re publishing. Simply put, do your friends and followers actually care about the material that you’re posting and are they interacting with it?

Engagement rates vary across different social media and depend on the size of your audience. There is no ‘magic number’ that you should be aiming for, but being aware of your engagement rates helps an organisation

  1. Track their content’s reach,
  2. Provides a baseline against which other posts can be measured
  3. Helps gauge your organisation’s social media success relative to other, similar organisations

So what does it say about your social media output if you have a whole load of followers and only a handful of ‘likes’ per post?
Well it can suggest that your friends and followers suck (because you purchased them with cheap clickbait ads). Or your content sucks. Or maybe a mutant combination of both. Either way, it means you’re not getting the most out of your social media presence.

Telling stories and building a brand narrative
So how do we get around this? How do we ensure people not only see our posts but also engage with them? There’s no simple answer, but there are some basic principles to consider:

Firstly, organisations need to forget about numbers. Social media isn’t a Cold War arms race. Real value comes from building a community and engaging with it. And the best way to build long-term engagement is via worthwhile content. That means content that is

  • Interesting
  • Useful
  • Unique

Organisation’s wishing to increase their engagement levels need to look beyond simply promoting their upcoming events and exhibitions, and create a broader dialogue based around their area of expertise. But here’s the good news – Museums and Art institutions are uniquely placed to offer the public exclusive content. By their very nature, they have access to material that is rare, historic, and important. But what they sometimes forget is that each artefact has its own story – and it’s often more interesting than the actual item on display.

Social Media is the perfect medium to explore these stories and provide a narrative that goes beyond exhibitions and events, and builds much more interesting, much broader conversations with your followers.

The Facebook content feedback loop
Okay, here’s where it gets interesting. Great content and insightful narrative can actually take on a momentum of its own and significantly boost engagement rates. Facebook uses complicated algorithms to determine which posts ended up on your wall. The sheer volume of content getting uploaded means it has to somehow be ‘curated’, and only a tiny percentage of an organisation’s followers will see a typical post. So what Facebook does it is it ‘farms out’ posts to a small percentage of an organisation’s followers to see how they respond. This can be as low as 2-3%. If they click on it, like it, etc., Facebook assumes the content is worthwhile and sends it out to a broader circle of users.

Now obviously the more people see something on their Facebook wall, the more likely they are to click on it. And so this creates a self-perpetuating circle of engagement, where Facebook will promote posts to a much larger group of followers, they’ll see it pop up on their wall, and if they engage with it Facebook will boast it even further.

Three simple rules
Even if your content is great, it’s worth being aware of certain technical aspects when it comes to Facebook and engagement rates.

  • Images get far more likes and comments than any other kind of content
  • Different days of the week have varying levels of engagement – Thursdays and Fridays are the most popular
  • Since Facebook engagement is reliant on LIKES, COMMENTS, SHARES and CLICKS, you should try and create posts that encourage these actions. As a very basic example, end your posts with questions, ask for feedback, try and create dialogue with your followers.

In summary
Of course all this talk of engagement glosses over Facebook’s dwindling organic reach (the percentage of followers that see a post without you having to pay money to ensure your followers see it). That’s a whole other topic. But it doesn’t change the fact that great content is still at the heart of effective social media. Or to summarise – great content creates engagement. But engagement rates will help you better understand what great content actually means.

New events now open for booking

AMA events bannerThe AMA takes its members on a journey to be the best that they can be, to raise more income, and to reach, engage and inspire more people, in deeper ways. Together, we drive a thriving arts and cultural sector.

Shaped by your needs and informed by the latest ‘hot topics’ in arts marketing, our programme is designed to instil fresh thinking and to help you excel professionally.

Our new events, running from April – July 2015, are now open for booking. You can view the brochure online here.

Digital Marketing Academy 2.0

Digital Marketing Academy

After the success of the first CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy we are now seeking 20 new Fellows to take part in the programme again.

Devising, testing, developing and sharing with the sector are key to the Academy, which in the first round saw the development of a new online platform bringing teachers and arts organisations together, extensive experiments on audience segmentation, and breakthroughs in the use of Google Analytics by just some of the participants, known as Fellows. Real experiments on real audiences in real arts organisations.

Steve Woodward from a New Direction said, “As a Fellow you feel challenged and empowered to try new things, explore and take risks in your practice within a positive and supportive environment. The outcome has been something tangible for my organisation, and a boost in confidence for me – I’ve met some interesting people through the process, and would recommend it to anyone with a passion for digital working in the arts and cultural sector.”

Fellows in the second round of the Digital Marketing Academy will be supported by eight international Mentors who are all digital experts:

  • Carolyn Royston, former Head of Digital at Imperial War Museums
  • Sara Devine, Manager of Audience Engagement and Interpretive Materials at the Brooklyn Museum
  • DK, social media expert and speaker
  • Ron Evans, consumer psychologist and principal consultant at Group of Minds
  • Katie Moffat, social media and digital engagement specialist
  • Daniel Rowles, CEO at TargetInternet
  • Tom Beardshaw, Founder of NativeHQ
  • Devon Smith, Director of Threespot.

Once again all learning will take place online – the Digital Marketing Academy is entirely virtual. The programme is open to practitioners working in England; you should apply if you are an enthusiastic driver of change working in a senior marketing position, interested in digital innovation and increasing and engaging audiences. Joint Fellowships are also available to CEOs or directors who want to work with a digital partner to develop marketing experiments within their organisation to drive change and innovation between the arts, technology and audiences.

Fellows are encouraged to trial and adopt good practice and achieve new ambitions and perspectives in their digital marketing through online workshops, exclusive Mentoring sessions and peer to peer learning.

Kealy Cozens, Creative Project Leader (Data) at Sound and Music said, “I think the Academy gave me a unique opportunity to take my project outside my organisation and share with other like-minded people as well as my, frankly amazing, Mentor!”

This opportunity is available to practitioners in England for only £100 per person; find out more information and apply here: 

Completed application forms should be returned to Verity Sanderson, Programme Producer at the Arts Marketing Association on by Friday 6 March, 5pm.

CultureHive best practice is managed by the Arts Marketing Association in partnership with The Audience Agency, part of Arts Council England’s Audience Focus programme, supported by Lottery funding.

Casting celebrities: does it pay off?

Caroline Flack on Strictly Come Dancing, BBC
Image: BBC

Niall Caldwell is Principal Lecturer, Lord Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University. This post is based on his research with brand consultant Kathryn Nicholson; it investigates the phenomenon of celebrity casting, and was originally published in the journal Arts and the Market by Emerald Group Publishing.

The practice of casting celebrities as a marketing tool to draw in bigger audiences has become endemic. With funding a key issue for the arts, some would argue that it draws in those who would not normally attend the theatre. Many critics however, argue that it is damaging the theatre as an art form.

So who is right? Setting aside the debates about high-versus-low culture and good-vs-bad taste, the use of celebrities as a business model for popular culture motivated our study into whether this celebrity strategy is sustainable in the long term.

There are real concerns within the industry about how to bring in bigger audiences. These concerns have led to increased spending by producers on casting actors with recognised names in the hope that they will excite greater interest and attendance, or raise the profile of a show. When Daniel Craig appeared with his wife, Rachel Weisz in Betrayal on Broadway, it broke all records, grossing over a million dollars for just six performances. But is this obsession with celebrity a potential blight on British theatre, running in parallel with the growing number of reality TV stars heading for the stage (think Caroline Flack, recent winner of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing)?

In our study, Star quality: celebrity casting in London West End theatres we surveyed both theatre production staff and audience members to find out what effect the casting of celebrities has within the theatre industry. Whilst professional staff ranked trustworthiness and expertise as equally important – interestingly, audience members ranked expertise as the overwhelmingly single most important attribute. But the one most striking finding to emerge from our results was that potential audience members see a significant difference between fame and celebrity.

When asked about the impact of celebrity casting on their intention to go to a show, the vast majority of respondents said it would depend on the celebrity. Theatre and film celebrities were far more likely to attract people to the theatre (with 86%) than celebrities from reality shows, such as ‘search-for-a-star’, the sports industry or those known for simply being in the media limelight. Katie Price, glamour model turned television personality for example, was significantly the most mentioned celebrity, but also received the highest number of ‘negative’ responses for any celebrity mentioned.

Demographically, younger audience members were more influenced by the presence of a celebrity, irrespective of their expertise in the theatre.  But across the age groups, the results of the survey clearly demonstrate that theatre-goers are far more likely to be attracted to the theatre by celebrities with theatrical expertise than those simply known on television or in the gossip columns.

So whilst our research contradicts the view that all celebrities, often with no formal theatrical experience, encourage people to attend the theatre who would not normally attend, we did find there to be a clear relationship between age and the potential effects of celebrity casting. With this in mind, marketers will be able to use the age-profile statistics alongside their productions’ target market age group to build a better picture of how effective a proposed celebrity cast member may be in bringing in audiences.

By learning from audiences about how they react to celebrities, we can try to make our theatre marketing strategies more successful. The professional background of a celebrity and the perceived expertise of the celebrity should be taken into account when deciding, first, whether or not to use celebrity casting at all within a theatre production and, second, which celebrity in particular to cast if this decision is taken.