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  • Writer's pictureLondon Museums Group Team

Museums and Social Media | How and what to evaluate?

Originally posted on 15 August 2013 #LMGBlogArchive #LMGBlogArchiveProject by Julie Reynolds

Sharing how to evaluate social media and develop an evaluation methodology, using the case study The Tanks.

As a Digital Analyst at Tate, one of my duties is to analyse the impact of social media.  There are some exciting challenges in this task, from selecting the appropriate metrics and analysis methods to using the tools to capture the data. The opening of The Tanks, Tate Modern’s new gallery space dedicated to displaying large-scale artists’ installations, as well as performances and film, was a terrific opportunity to put this into practice. Twitter played a significant role during the festival ‘Art in Action’ at The Tanks that took place last summer. We analysed the impact of Twitter from the following three perspectives: as a communication tool, as a conversation tool to engage with the visitors, and as an audience research tool.’

Twitter was a key tool of the communication and marketing campaign launched to increase the awareness of the new space and promote the installations and events that took place during the festival.

We measured the effectiveness of the marketing and communication campaign, examining the volume of tweets during this period, the virality and potential reach of the news, and the traffic generated to the Tate’s website. Descriptive statistics help to get a snapshot of the Twitter activity around The Tanks. Differentiating the activities initiated by Tate from those initiated by other users and identifying key influencers is important to understand the whole Twitter buzz.

Twitter was also used to foster conversation and debate about live art. An interactive “Comments Wall” was installed at the gallery, and visitors were asked to participate by answering the question, “What do you think?” and adding the specific hashtag #thetanks, which automatically projected the comments onto the wall. From this perspective, the evaluation looked at the number of comments that used the hashtag, as well as the number of visitors who participated with meaningful responses.

In addition, there was an interest in understanding people’s reactions, insights, and thoughts about this new exhibition space. What visitors tweeted during or after their visit offered a great opportunity to apply content and sentiment analysis and to learn about the main topics they talked about and their overall feeling towards the space and live art program. Of all the tweets analysed, 89% regarded the experience as positive. While the space and different installations and performances were the most mentioned themes, we can observe how the industrial space deeply impacted the experience, as many tweets labelled the architecture as “amazing” and “incredible” and mentioned the light and the smell. The installations, displays, and events featured in the program also had a very positive response. Meanwhile, negative tweets about The Tanks mainly came from visitors who did not feel comfortable in the space because it was, in their own words, too “dark” and “creepy”; or from visitors who did not understand the contemporary art on display.

So, different metrics and methodologies were selected in the analysis depending on the evaluation and research objectives. There are different tools to be use in social media evaluation, from those that help in the data collection to those more focused in the data mining. Tools such as Rowfeeder or YourTwapperKeeper were used to gather tweets based on a search criteria and for the analysis in this case it was done using spreadsheet software and NVIVO.

This type of analysis can be applied to other museum events and activities such as exhibitions, specific products such as memberships, or to wider causes like understanding how the museum brand is perceived by the public. It can also be applied to other social media platforms where the museum may have a profile, such as Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, or YouTube, and where users comment about the museum and its activities; but the particulars of each individual platform should always be taken into account.

Toolkit blog by Elena Villaespesa, Digital Analyst, Tate and LMG Member

Presentation from the LMG Museums and Social Media event can be viewed here |


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