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Digital Change: seizing the opportunity online

We’ve been talking about the role that digital plays with engaging communities for sometime now – whether it’s down to the type of content that is created or the way we communicate that content to our audiences. Digital isn’t new anymore but some industries, including the arts and culture sector have had difficulty embracing it for one reason or another.

This week I was lucky enough to attend Digital Change: seizing the opportunity online, curated by Culture 24 and Supported by Google. The Birmingham edition of this series of events aimed to support the arts and culture sector in both exploring and responding to the many opportunities offered by digital technology.

The day is broken down into four sessions which covered everything from how to reach and engage audiences via technology right through to using various platforms as a way of exploring the issues and challenges faced by the sector.

The first session, entitled What can your business learn from some young YouTuber, saw some of the regions leading cultural organisations take advice from a panel of teenagers who have developed online audiences in their millions. The session title pretty summed up what some people were thinking at the start of the panel – but that very quickly changed. This group of content creators has managed to develop their own online community which not only watches the videos but actually engages through comments, shares or even recording video responses. So how can arts organisations adapt these principles to their own work?

Some top tips for creating a YouTube strategy:

  • Its all about collaboration. Why not work with established YouTubers to engage with their audience, in-turn building your own.
  • Tell a story. Show your audience something new and different. They want to feel special, give them something unique
  • Engage with your audience. Don’t just post a video, include call to actions, ask people what they think, prompt them to leave comments. If they do engage then make sure you respond, don’t leave comments unanswered
  • Consistency and regular content are key to developing audiences. If people know you publish a video every Tuesday at 1pm they will return (as long as the content is good)

With over 60 trillion (yes that is an actual number) individual web pages on the world wide web, becoming top of the rankings of Google and other search engines is one battle organisations need to engage in if they want to be found. The second session of the day Get found: a practical session with Google Search Quality Team saw us receive some top tips straight from the horses mouth. Now SEO is a pretty big topic to cover and one that our guys at Barques do very well but there were some great tit-bits taken away from yesterday.

  • Webmaster Tools – a free resource from by Google providing users with a series of health checks which you can perform on your website to see if it is working properly. It also allows you look at how people are finding your website e.g. are they googling particular phrases
  • With more and more people accessing websites via mobile devices (over 46% of under 35s) you need to ensure your site is optimized for mobile
  • Who is recommending and linking back to your site? Find out who by using Webmaster Tools and build upon it. The more ‘official’ backlinks the better your Google ranking. Be careful through, Google can tell if you’ve been purchasing links
  • Using video? Upload to YouTube then embed on your website. Make sure you put your website link on your YouTube channel though. It’s all about cross-platform optimization

There was so much covered during the course of the day and it was great to see how organisations are using digital to develop their own content and communities. Certainly a few ideas sparked along the way.

Off the back of the event, the curators of the days proceedings, Culture 24 have kindly put together a whole page of resources from across the web. It’s worth checking out the Lets Get Real 2 report. All the resources can be found here.

To follow the days events as they happened check out the Storyfi below