Mike Ellis, Issue 116/11, p14, 01.11.2016
Content strategy
The best digital strategy is said to be one that doesn’t exist. When digital activity is properly rooted in an institution, an engagement strategy fully embracing technology is better than a strategic silo for digital activity.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is taking this approach. Chief content officer Chad Coerver recently declared that the “ultimate goal of every museum activity is to help foster a rewarding in-person encounter between a visitor and an artwork”. Attached to a list of mantras that guide a storytelling approach, in effect he abolishes the demarcation line between digital and non-digital content.

The downside is that it places digital at the service of the gallery experience, marginalising digital experiences such as collections blogs to social media participatory projects that have their biggest impact online.

Indeed, many museums seem to be becoming less ambitious in this area. In more naive times, it was said that if you build it, they will come. Projects such as Culture 24’s Let’s Get Real have taught us that this isn’t the case: that digital audiences are hard to win and no easier to keep. Doubling down on your core visiting audience therefore seems logical.

But is cutting ourselves off from a wider online audience a wise move? For organisations with a mission to enlighten and educate, limiting ourselves to a digital gallery is oddly insular.