Here is the data and analysis that readers visited, shared, and referenced most in 2017.
What a year! 2017 is one that many of us will remember. Google’s “Year In Search” video summarizes some of the fears, disasters, humanity, and connection that may be the trademarks of this year.
In the midst of it all, many cultural organizations have served as beacons of trust and stood up for the power of informal learning. This year – whether they wanted to or not – some organizations were forced to ask themselves, “What do we stand for?” And, indeed, it took some exploring.
I think that, overall, this challenging year was very important for cultural organizations. We had to ask hard questions. And it was done during a time when cultural entities weren’t necessarily at the top of the public’s mind, but when they also may arguably have been needed most. For all of the struggle and confusion that cultural entities seemed to face this year, what a wonderful year it was for learning!
The most popular conversation in which I was engaged was how important it is to reach and welcome new audiences. I received so many questions about data-informed ways to do this that I ended the year with a four-part series on it.
More than any year prior, I also seemed to encounter a constant, frantic desperation for “magic bullet solutions” to everything from programs for millennials, to creating affordable access initiatives that actually work. There are certainly new best practices that are increasingly requirements for success today, but there are no magic bullets. If there were, cultural organizations would not have a shrinking audience base.
The closest thing I’ve got? Success today is about strategy more than tactics.
Pokemon Go wasn’t a magic bullet in 2016, and serving a hipster cocktail in the atrium isn’t the magic bullet in 2017. (Though they both have value and provide important hints for industry evolution.)
Running a successful cultural organization is a thinking marathon. I aim to share thought-fuel to keep you going and data to serve as the wind at your back, but I cannot teleport you to the finish line. That’s the work of your own feet – and those of the hard-working staff on your relay team.
But you’ve got this. There are no people like nonprofit, visitor-serving people!
(Time marches on, but I shall always have a thing for bad metaphors.)
Here are the ten most read and shared articles on Know Your Own Bone in 2017.
Digital engagement rules among Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. (Yes. All three.)
Hey cultural organizations! Do you know what we do not do often enough? Talk about our failures.
Executives that say these three phrases may have a ways to go to lead effective and efficient 21st century organizations.
Providing an educational experience helps visitor-serving organizations increase visitation – but not necessarily in the way that they might suspect.
The short answer: No. Not in their current form. Here’s the data.
Data suggest that audiences do not “age into” greater concern about arts and culture. If organizations want people to care, they need to work to change people’s cause priorities.
The benefits of understanding “the market” extend far beyond the marketing department.
Here’s what market research reveals about MoMA’s decision to display artwork from artists hailing from the Muslim-majority nations affected by the original travel ban this year.
Marketing to adults increases visitation even if much of your current visitation comes from people visiting with children. Here’s why.
Data suggest that cultural organizations are still not representatively engaging new audiences – and our inability to meet this challenge may be exacerbating an already percolating problem. But there’s hope!
Thank you for visiting, sharing, and referencing Know Your Own Bone! It is a terrific honor to provide information for cultural executives, staff members, and students working hard for the cause of educating and inspiring the masses. I am eager to see what 2018 has in store for nonprofit, visitor-serving entities – and I will be here querying and analyzing industry data to serve as thought fuel and the wind at your back as you keep striving in this important, metaphorical marathon!
Best wishes for a great, nerdy, and productive 2018!