This guide has been designed to provide you with a list of organisations, tools and resources that you can access to keep up to date with new digital trends and their impact on the heritage and cultural sector.
You don’t need to follow or sign up to all those listed below. Our experts from the Arts Marketing Association (AMA) suggest you go through this guide and decide which tools and resources would work best for you and your organisation. It may be a process of trial and testing to decide which of these are most relevant.
Developing an awareness of trends and new digital activities is useful as you navigate how digital can help your organisation engage with and support its stakeholders. However, understanding how to cherry pick which digital trend your organisation should consider as part of its digital strategy is equally important.
Knowledge about digital trends doesn’t mean your organisation needs to follow or undertake all the trends. If you have a good understanding of the needs of your stakeholders – in particular your visitors and audiences – then you will recognise which new digital trend might best suit your organisation.
Your digital strategy will play a key role in how you assess and decide if a new digital trend would be relevant to your organisation’s business goals. Map the digital activity in your ‘digital business model canvas’ to ensure it fits in with your objectives, and that you’re maximising your time on it.
A good understanding of your organisation’s business goals will also help you sift out trends. You can work out your own shortcuts in deciding what’s relevant. Not all digital trends or activities will benefit your organisation.
One of the easiest and simplest tools you can use is Google Alerts. This service sends emails to the user when it finds new results – such as web pages, newspaper articles, blogs or scientific research – that match the user’s search term(s). You can set up as many Google Alerts as you need based on key words such as ‘digital’, ‘heritage’, ‘digital trends’, ‘digital heritage trends’, etc. You could even set up Google Alerts on other heritage organisations that you have an interest in or are similar to your own so that you can receive alerts on their digital activities and news.
You can choose how often you receive an alert – ‘as-it-happens’; ‘at most once a day’ or ‘at most once a week’. You can also select sources from news, blogs, web, video, books, etc. or just choose ‘automatic’ selected from all those options. You can also select language and geographic region, for example a specific country like the UK or ‘any region’. There’s also the option for ‘best’ or ‘all results’. The alerts are then sent directly to your email inbox.
Sign up or subscribe to regular email newsletters that have a focus on digital. The following provide useful updates on a wide range of digital-related topics and tech developments within the heritage and cultural sector.
- Cultural Digital – This newsletter by Chris Unitt, Founder and Managing Director of One Further, rounds up all the digital and tech developments that Chris encounters in the arts, museums, culture, heritage and creativity worlds.
- Digital Culture Network newsletter – A regular newsletter from the Digital Culture Network who help to develop arts and cultural organisations’ digital skills.
- Digital Things – A bi-monthly newsletter that covers all things digital for the arts and culture sector. It is produced by Alec Ward, Digital Skills Manager at Culture24.
- Digital Works – This newsletter by Substrakt looks at all things digital, collecting insights and sharing best practice.
- Digital Snapshot – This digital newsletter by The Audience Agency offers a comprehensive round-up of all the news, innovation and interesting ideas in the world of digital, as relevant to the arts, culture, museums and heritage sectors. Produced by Adam Koszary, Head of Digital at The Audience Agency, this newsletter is sent once every two weeks.
- MuseumNext – MuseumNext is an online magazine covering the museum sector through news, analysis and events. It has a dedicated section on digital.
Social media is a good way of keeping an eye on digital trends. You don’t need to be signed up to all social media platforms – just engage with those channels that work for you and your organisation.
- If you’re already using Twitter, then it can be a really useful resource for you to follow other heritage organisations that you have an interest in, ones that are local to your own organisation or ones that undertake interesting and innovative digital activity. You can also follow individuals, organisations and accounts that focus on digital trends.
- You can create Twitter lists, adding in relevant heritage organisations or digital trends accounts. You can keep an eye on how other heritage organisations are using Twitter as well as their wider digital activity. A Twitter list will enable you to see this activity in one place.
- Also think about searching via hashtags, for example the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s #DigitalSkillsForHeritage or other hashtags such as #DigitalTrends or #NewInDigital, etc.
- Search out and explore relevant Facebook support groups with an interest in digital or digital trends. Facebook groups are now open access. You can see all the posts within a group but if you want to participate in that group – such as post a question or make a comment – you will need to join that group.
- The Arts Marketing Association’s Community Support Group on Facebook is, for example, aimed at queries relating to marketing and audience development, and often has posts relating to digital marketing, which you might find useful. There is a search option within Facebook groups so that you can search on specific digital queries. These types of community groups are also good for asking advice, suggestions and experience of digital platforms or software, or finding out new ways of working.
- For LinkedIn, you can search by industry and hashtag. For instance, if you enter a term like ‘#DigitalTrends’ in the search box at the top left, then select ‘Posts’, you’ll see all posts which include that hashtag. You can further refine by industry, for instance selecting ‘Museums and Institutions’ to filter your results.
- LinkedIn Groups is a dedicated space to share expertise, seek advice and build relationships. They’re also a rich source of information and inspiration on the latest trends. You can look for groups directly in the LinkedIn search bar. Then on the search results page just click on the ‘Groups’ filter option. Look through the groups and click on the ones you think will help you most.
- The social media management tool Hootsuite provides an annual social trends report that looks at emerging social media trends: Social Trends 2022.
- In 2021 Instagram introduced its annual trend report, which identifies upcoming trends based on Instagram activity: 2022 Instagram Trend Report.
- Like Instagram, TikTok published a trends report based on the activities of its users: What’s Next Report 2022: Insight into culture drivers on TikTok.
Podcasts are a great way to learn about new ideas, future trends and innovations in an easily digestible way. Here are a few podcast suggestions:
- The Digital Marketing Podcast is an advert free, weekly, digital marketing podcast that combines interviews with global experts, together with the latest news, tools, strategies and techniques relating to digital marketing. The show is produced and hosted by Daniel Rowles, CEO of Target Internet, and digital marketing specialist and trainer, Ciaran Rogers.
- The Digital Human is a BBC Radio 4 podcast where Aleks Krotoski explores the digital world.
- For Arts’ Sake is a podcast that shares real-life stories of leading professionals in museums and the heritage sector across the UK. Although this podcast is not digital-focused it does occasionally have digital-related content that you might find useful in the context of museums and the heritage sector.
- Tea and Toast is a podcast by Pritesh Parmar that covers digital with social enterprises, community interest companies (CICs) and non-profits in mind. Topics covered include: digital marketing, SEO, social media, content creation and branding amongst other things.
The following annual training events and conferences provide a platform for emerging digital trends within the heritage and cultural sector. They don’t all have a focus on digital but do provide some digital-related content as part of their programme. These events can be expensive but, even if you can’t afford to attend, the content of the programme can often provide snippets of what digital trends are emerging within the sector.
- AMA’s Digital Marketing Day is an annual day event which brings you the latest thinking, case studies and upcoming trends to be aware of, in engaging your audiences online. It covers everything you need to know about all things digital. This event normally takes place in November/December.
- MuseumNext organises a range of digital-focused events including its Digital Summit and Culture Geek a one-day conference that usually takes place in London.
- The Festival of Marketing is aimed at marketers to help broaden their skillset as well as inspire and inform. Although the festival does not focus on digital, it often has digital-related content as part of its programme.
- The REMIX Summit brings together culture, technology and entrepreneurship to discuss common questions including future trends.
- AMAculturehive is a free online resource hub for cultural professionals that brings the collective intelligence of the sector together in one place. It’s run by the Arts Marketing Association, and provides a wide range of resources including latest thinking on digital trends. Its guide: AMA MicroDigital Guide to top digital tools and apps is particularly useful. This guide is continually updated and provides details on the latest and top digital tools and apps available to support your digital marketing and engagement.
- The Digital Learning Network shares ideas and good practice in using digital technology to support learning in the cultural heritage sector. Anyone who has an interest in how digital technology can support creative and inspiring educational experiences can join the network.
- The Digital Culture Network is a resource hub, managed by Arts Council England, that aims to help museum people understand, manage, create and use all things digital.
- The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative, of which the Digital Heritage Hub is part, provides a huge range of practical support to help organisations gain the confidence to make effective, creative use of technology.
- The Heritage Digital project aims to increase the amount of free digital skills training and support available to heritage organisations. Its website has many useful resources on digital. The project also includes the Heritage Digital Academy, which provides digital business support sessions focused on innovation, enterprise and organisational planning.
- TrendWatching is a consumer trend firm and offers two useful updates that you can sign up to: Innovation of the Day and Make Shift, its monthly ‘Trend Briefings’, covering the latest trends in one six-minute read. Subscribe to TrendWatching’s Free Trend Updates. TrendWatching is not specific to digital.
Please attribute as: "Tools and resources to keep up-to-date with emerging digital trends (2022) by Arts Marketing Association (AMA) supported by The Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0