Audience engagement?

This blog was posted by Sara Devine on July 31, 2015 as part of the CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy. You can find out more about the project here.

So about a year ago my title, previously Manager of Interpretive Materials, was updated to Manager of Audience Engagement and Interpretive Materials to reflect the work I’m doing on the museum’s visitor experience initiative (for complete story on the initiative see our blog).

I must admit “audience engagement” wasn’t my first choice for my new title. Although it has a nice symmetry to my project partner, Shelley Bernstein’s, title (Vice Director of Digital Engagement and Technology), too many other industries have adopted the idea of “engagement.” A quick LinkedIn search and you can see what I mean:

Graph 1
With so many industries using the term, I started to wonder how they were using it. So I went back to LinkedIn to see what job functions folks with this title have. Now, this is perhaps an unfair data snapshot as the categories are ones provided by LinkedIn and not always the most descriptive, I mean, most of what I do isn’t well described in the categories below.

Graph 2

This didn’t help me as much as I was hoping so, I took a look at “audience engagement” specifically. This is where it gets really interesting. Another quick LinkedIn search and I find people in development, fundraising, marketing fields. LinkedIn even suggests: “Only show people in the Online Media industry?”

Graph 3
And that’s where DMA 2.0 comes in. Since working with the Academy, I’ve started to see some really interesting crossover between “my” kind of audience engagement and “your” (all you marketers out there) kind of audience engagement.


The first and foremost is that we are both all about audience.


A snapshot of Brooklyn Museum’s diverse audience.
Part of my role is to identify and meet their unique needs.

We want to get to know our audience and meet their unique needs. Who are they? What do they need and want from us? And how do we tailor our messages accordingly?


The second is we’re both nuts about data.

Data shot

Swiss Miss gets it. Data is sexy. And helpful. Embrace, love it, learn it.

In both our fields, we try to learn as much as we can about our audiences. We speak directly with our current and potential audiences, running surveys, interviews, and focus groups to find out their unique needs. We track metrics like web clicks and stay rates. We spend time visualizing it and talking to our colleagues about it.


The third is measuring success.

Gallery audience

There are many ways to measure success, but personally this is what I want to see.
People looking at art.

We both put resources behind evaluating our efforts to determine if our messaging is working. Are we reaching our audiences? Why or why not? How can we improve? This is even an area where I think museums could learn more from the marketing world. We are just beginning to get momentum behind the idea of measuring success and few museums have staff devoted to audience evaluation or visitor studies.

So despite my initial trepidation, I’m really starting to embrace the “audience engagement” part of my title. The more I work with the Digital Marketing Academy, the more I see the connections between our fields and places where I can learn from you.

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