Within arts organizations, technology and social media have been embraced because the benefits have been recognized, which include increasing public awareness, but also it creates a more interactive experience between these organizations and diverse audiences. Many arts organizations have established a presence on social networking platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In the arts organizations, they are using new technologies, including mobile apps to more effectively reach their consumer bases.
Arts organizations have become more creative and targeted in their approaches. These organizations have used programs like Raiser’s Edge for years for database management of subscribers, mailing lists, and fundraising, but there is now a Raiser’s Edge mobile app. This app allows employees of arts organizations to have this information at their fingertips when they are away from their offices. It is a great tool for employees to use for entering, editing and dictating Actions and Notes.
Many arts organizations re making their own apps unique to their needs so there are not apps that are “industrywide.” The National Gallery of Art recently released a mobile app showing works of art from its permanent collection and detail about the artist name, nationality, and theme. This app provides audio content for visitors to use with their personal devices rather than having to use the headsets supplied by the Gallery. The app also a Kid’s Tour to promote the introduction of art history principles to children. Facility information with the Gallery’s hours of operation and maps are also provided. An example of a local arts organization having their own app is the Portland Art Museum. The Meridian app provides turn-by-turn directions to the museum along with 12 short videos featuring curators, educators, and others discussing works of art, exhibition and even information.
In 2011, Collectrium has designed Custom iPad Apps for Galleries, geared toward art galleries and dealers. The Custom iPad Apps for Galleries is “an intuitive and comprehensive mobile inventory and art presentation solution backed up by the Collectrium’s next generation cloud-based inventory system.” By 2014, it is estimated with 400 million Internet users, that more people will be connecting to the Web through mobile devices rather than computers. Each gallery can use this tool to customize its own app, using the app online and offline, and the app is managed through Collectrium’s iCloud artwork upload and management portal. A really cool feature in this app is the incorporation of ArtCapture technology. The user can point his or her iPhone or iPad camera to any artwork and it provides the information about the specific piece of artwork.
It is not easy to measure the success of a mobile app. With social networking apps like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the number of “likes,” followers, or views can indicate the level of traffic and show how effective it is with reaching various audiences. In many cases, this measurement is up to the software owner. Measurement involves interest, engagement, and retention. The interest can be measured based on the number of users and tracking the statistics of what devices and platform versions are being used most for your app. Interest in an app is not hard. Customers can be attracted to an app, but it is harder to engage customers and establish that loyalty. Engagement involves frequency and depth of visits. Retention involves keeping the app up-to-date, but more importantly, keeping it relevant for users. A mobile app must also be properly supported. After all, who wants to keep an app that never works, or even worse, crashes?