@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • Does Social Media work for Cultural Sector Survey

    August 22nd, 2011mardixonCulture, International

    From July 27th until August 1th, I ran a simple 8 question survey called Does Social Media work for Cultural Sector.  Why?  Because I was working on a blog post and Tweeted to find out if anyone could point me to any research that would prove, or disprove, whether Social media does indeed work within the Culture sector.  To my surprise, it seemed that this question hadn’t been posed and there certainly didn’t seem to be any research or analysis to answer my question.


    Therefore with the help of Twitter, I composed a few general multiple choice questions (via the excellent Survey monkey website)and gave those answering the opportunity to add additional information if they wished.

    I was very conscious that despite its good intentions surveys can be tedious for people at the best of times and with time being at a premium for many of the people I was aiming this survey at I was optimistic but nevertheless realistic that I may not get the responses I required. I need not have worried, the response was superb and I would like to thank each and every person who took part.

    Overall, 14 countries were represented:

    United Kingdom
    United States
    New Zealand

    So, does social media work in the cultural sector?

    The majority (34.9%) replied they didn’t know. However, on a positive light, 33.7% said Yes.  However it’s that majority that ‘didn’t know’ that is possibly the most interesting result of this survey.

    ‘We don’t have any exact data but we know that brand awareness has been improved.’

    ‘No concrete data at this stage’

    On average, the majority (39.8%) of the participants have only been utilizing social media for 1-2 years which reflects the inability to answer the questions with a solid Yes or No.  Interestingly some that did mark ‘No’ or ‘Not Sure’ followed up with a response relating to the inability to quantify this as the main reason for their answer.

    ‘We need to ask more of our visitors how they heard about us in order to see if it works!’

    Is there a link between social media and footfall?

    While the increase to website is a very positive 69.9%, there is only a slight increase with the ticket office (25.3% with 25.3% not able to answer) and even less with the online shop (14.6% with 56.1% not able to answer)).  This could be interpreted as social media not being used to its fullest potential, or (again) quantifying the benefits of social media still isn’t being seen as a priority.

    Time Management

    One issue that continues to be raised is time management.  There are some institutions that are very astute with social medial and are using it to the highest potential and still managing to organize their time appropriately.

    it depends on our schedule~ …’

    ‘…almost all social media updates are done by staff in their own time at home because they like doing it – no one really has time to prioritise it in a usual work day’

    A resounding 85% of those who took part in the survey have said they would recommend social media to other institutions not using social media.  I think we need to listen to them and do our best to get more institutions online AND active.

    ‘They should ask their community why they should use social media and tailor their approach to their audience’s needs and their own goals.’

    And we should be asking how we can help our cultural community to embrace social media.


    Much of what I see as the negativity towards social media is through either lack of confidence or an inability to see its relevance. Both of these are present in the institutions that are having the most success from social media and see it ‘as important as print marketing’. Therefore I feel that an informal ‘virtual’ mentoring program could be introduced where cultural venues that are confident in their approach could maybe dedicate a day (or even a few hours) to a smaller venue to show them the ropes and help them build their confidence but more importantly illustrate them to them the importance and relevance of Social Media as part of their everyday routine.  This type of mentoring program would benefit the sector as a whole. No one has time to attend social media surgeries so a more tailored approach should work better. 


    The simple answer is that on the whole Social media *does* works;

    • It reaches a large demographic not easily reached by other forms of marketing
    • It’s essentially free (minus someone’s time)
    • It opens dialog with other institutions
    • ‘For those who have small or non-existent marketing budgets, it’s a good way to raise the profile of the museum, its collection and its activities’

    We need to ensure all cultural venues, regardless of size, have the opportunity to learn and embrace this ‘new technology’.  Social medial activities such as Culturethemes , Jim Richardson’s AskACurator or more importantly MuseumNext  events are a great way to invite those cultural institutions that are weary of joining Twitter or Facebook to get involved.

    If you have any questions, or would like to see more of the raw data, please feel free to contact me.  I’m conscious of the data being linked to names but I will provide as much as I can.

    This survey will be run again next year – let’s hope we see some big differences!

    Social Media in the Cultural Sector Survey





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6 responses to “Does Social Media work for Cultural Sector Survey” RSS icon

  • this is a great bit if research. I know a lot of work went into it and it’s beautifully represented here, up there with reports published by large analyst companies.
    I wrote some pieces on Social Media in business for Microscope last Yeats, and this research comes to the same conclusion I did, that social media does work.
    Because of the nature of social media the mentoring is a superb idea and I think I would recommend the same in the business arena. Great work Mar.

    Linda xx

  • Lorna Richardson

    I would be really interested to know how many organisations responded, what sectors they represent from the cultural sector, and what positions the respondees held within their organisations?

    I am currently researching social media in the archaeological sector at UCL, and two of my fellow PhD students at the Centre for Digital Humanities are looking at the use of social media in the museums and archives sectors as well. There is certainly work being done out there!

  • There were 83 participates. The positions varied from volunteers to Social media manager and the sectors were just as varied from national museums to local museums and art galleries to private art houses and pretty much everything in between. The results were collated from a heterogeneous balance of participants.

  • Been going around blogs to check out some stuff for my research and I happened to find yours. I think your site is pretty cool. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Great stuff, Mar. My experience of the arts and social media has been wholly positive – from our recent eight cuts campaign to get one of our books shortlisted for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize to the fact that our exhibition contributors were wholly sourced through social media. For both organizing and promoting live events, social media have beem invaluable as well. Through Year Zero, The Albion Beatnik Bookstore’s Facebook group, Free-e-day, and eight cuts, as well as my own writing, I’ve been using social media for about 3 years now to promote the arts (do take a look at the people we shortlisted for the Chris al-Aswad Prize last year – groups like #amwriting and Escape Into Life to Sad Red Earth and Hip Hop Gives Back – incredible use of social media for cultural and social good) – and have fairly good records figure-wise from most of it – happy to share anything that would be interesting 🙂

  • Hey, nice post. I have come across it by accident and it really helped me find my needed data. Thanks again!

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