More then half of visitors to cultural organizations use social media onsite – and it has a positive impact on their satisfaction levels.
Note: This article introduces metrics that IMPACTS has been tracking over time, and is an excellent source for original analysis. You can see the data updated for 2019 here.
I’ve been sharing this information at keynotes and workshops recently, and I am pleased-as-punch that this information now has its own Fact Facts Video!
Social media plays an important role in driving attendance to visitor-serving organizations, and by now, this seems to be generally understood within the industry. This said, the role of social media may still deserve much more attention than it is being given! Not only does social media play a role in helping to get people in the door when it is effectively utilized, but a lack of engagement is a key reason why organizations underestimate attendance loss during unforeseen closures, and why it’s a particularly bad idea to cut marketing budgets during tough financial times.
Digital engagement is critical to the visitor engagement cycle– and its power is hard to ignore.
Okay, okay. You get it: Social media helps communicate with potential visitors offsite…but what role does social media play in the onsite experience?
A pretty big one, as it turns out.
As usual, let’s consult IMPACTS and the trusty National Awareness, Attitudes, and Usage Study to see what information sources visitors to cultural organizations use while they are onsite.
Over half of visitors to cultural organizations use social media onsite.
The chart above indicates the percentage of visitors to cultural organizations (i.e. museums, aquariums, performing arts organizations) who reported using each respective channel onsite in a way that relates directly to their recent visit.
For instance, “mobile web” includes those who report looking up additional information on an organization’s mobile website or looking up information on different websites to get more information about related content. (Think: “Let me Google that to get more information.”) Many more folks report using mobile web onsite than the non-mobile version of websites – which makes perfect sense since folks are far more likely to pull out their smartphones or tablets during a visit than haul around a laptop.
Similarly, “social media” includes those checking out an organization’s social media page or sharing information related to the visit on their own social media pages.
Interested in what is happening with mobile applications? You can read more about that here.
“WOM” stands for “word of mouth.” This is good, old fashioned, interpersonal communication.
Here’s the kicker: 52% of visitors to cultural organizations report using social media channels onsite during their visit.
This means that over half of visitors are checking out an organization’s social channels or sharing something from their own experience while they are onsite. Over half! And over 30% are using mobile web onsite related to their experience!
A reasonable question may be, “Okay…but is this a good thing?”
Onsite social media use generally increases visitor satisfaction.
As it turns out, ladies and gentleman, it is indeed a good thing.
The data above are also from the National Awareness, Attitudes, and Usage Study, and they contemplate the average satisfaction levels of people who report using each of these channels onsite alongside the satisfaction levels of those who did not use that same channel.
Interpersonal interactions increase satisfaction the most – and that’s no surprise, as there are significant data to underscore the importance of face-to-face interactions onsite at cultural organizations. These types of interactions can make or break the experience of visiting either an exhibit-based or a performance-based organization. We may live in a digitally-connected world, but connectivity is king …and that certainly includes face-to-face interactions.
Notice: Those who use social media onsite as it relates to their visit have greater visitor satisfaction rates than those who do not!
Does using social media onsite increase visitor satisfaction, or do folks who are more satisfied with their experience feel more inclined to use social media? Good question. I’m not sure. I suspect that it may be both, to some extent. But perhaps it doesn’t matter. If people who are having a great time want to post on social, shouldn’t we take up that opportunity for powerful word of mouth endorsement? If using social media plays a role in bumping up the visitor experience, isn’t that a good thing as well?
The point is that it is a positive relationship.
For those who think a 5-6% increase in visitor satisfaction is not significant, consider this: This number amounts to a bigger increase in satisfaction than the amount that is contributed by a satisfying food experience or retail experience. Moreover, remember that the only recorded difference in the experiences between these groups of people is their use of these channels onsite. If simply providing or encouraging access to these channels has the potential to increase visitor satisfaction at such rates, why not aim to optimize the opportunity by welcoming these behaviors?
Certainly, a person of a certain behavioral demographic may be more likely to use social media onsite than somebody who references a brochure onsite. And, yes, you bet that’s a fair point. But it doesn’t overrun the finding that social media use coincides with higher visitor satisfaction rates.
Remember: Likely visitors to cultural organizations qualify as being “super-connected” to the web, regardless of age.
The implication of these data are not that it’s necessarily time to run through the gallery screaming, “Selfie-optimize all of the things!” (Although perhaps selfie-proofing things may not be the worst idea…) The point is also not that it’s a good idea to engage in social media for social media’s sake or absent a driving strategy.
The point is that social media has onsite satisfaction power. When folks use their mobile devices in galleries or before performances, it is not necessarily a sign that they are disengaged or distracted from the experience. Over half of the people who visit cultural organizations use their devices precisely to look up information or further engage with an organization’s content in some way – and that positively contributes to their visitor experience.
Onsite social media usage is a prevalent thing – and it’s generally a good thing.
And that’s an update worth sharing.