That the digital communication of cultural institutions is often not accompanied by “the presence of a specific strategy, adequate professional figures and long-medium term investments” – as reported by the XII Civita report Next generation Culture – is known to those who care about the application of contemporary and immersive languages to museums and creative industries. The pandemic has, as is now known, accelerated the process of digital renewal and favored the integration between physical and virtual elements. At the center of this reformulation, there is the visitor / user: cultural institutions should take into account his reaction and preferences, but this is not always the case.
The Civita report offers data obtained from a survey conducted by Nemo – Network of European Museum Organizations – which reveals that 70% of the 600 museums participating in the survey, following the pandemic, have increased and created new digital services to reach the its audience and in a more recent phase up to 93%, including the increase in social media, dissemination of video materials and virtual tours. However, almost 40% of museums replied that they had not monitored or were unaware of the development in the number of online visitors.
This figure certainly falls within a framework of failure to draw up a strategic plan, in which little – or only short-term – investment is made in the necessary professional skills and in the control and planning tools.
The monitoring of digital campaigns is one of the points of a questionnaire conducted by the International Council of Museums, which aims to identify the methods and the first trends: from this analysis it emerges that over 80% of the 354 Italian museums surveyed declare that they operate a monitoring , only to report “not having data available” for a more comprehensive evaluation. 45% of the museums also issued very general statements on the results, insinuating the doubt that the monitoring referred to is at least superficial. On the other hand, Icom Italia suggests 15 minutes a day to carry out a basic monitoring of the most popular social channels and on the website and 45 minutes a week for in-depth monitoring, underlining the strategic importance of an ongoing dialogue with its users.
To give an example, the high number of connections from smartphones should lead to the need to technically optimize the vision and navigation to the small format. Or again, the strong appreciation of photos and videos cannot be ignored, even compared to renowned tools such as virtual tours. If the trends are also outlined with Google trends, a free tool capable of measuring public interest through search frequency, it is the innovative companies that provide cultural organizations with the technological solutions that can support them in this sense.
“Monitoring metrics must be taken into account to evaluate the effectiveness of certain technologies”, underlines Alfredo Valeri, Head of Research and Cultural Planner at Civita. “After all, artificial intelligence, machine learning and all virtual media by nature collect big data and deliver analytics first of all to their developers: it is the museums that often do not demand these data in a constant and intelligible way, able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the applications adopted, to eventually recalibrate them or help build loyalty among the public ”.
In fact, cultural institutions, creative industries and museums can now enjoy a range of innovative solutions developed by an ecosystem of young companies, born in the last five years, sometimes as university spin-offs: from the combination of art / video games, to immersion in realities. virtual and augmented, from computer vision to wearable technology. This certainly does not mean distorting one’s identity, but shortening distances and declining new languages to embrace more generations. That the museum is a space by vocation prone to social issues is certainly not new: it was 1917, when John Cotton Dana, founder of the Newark Museum in New Jersey, wrote in his book The New Museum: “Does a good museum attract, entertain, create curiosity ?, promote learning. (…) The museum can? help people only if they use it; they will use it only if they know it and only if the attention to the interpretation of the objects and? placed so that people can understand it ”.