With arts and cultural organisations closing their doors across the country there’s been a flurry of incredible online activity. Organisations are live streaming events, providing dance classes for the elderly, and museums and art galleries have virtual walking tours of their venues. The spontaneous generosity of the cultural sector is a wonder to behold and I’m sure this wealth of incredible content and experiences will be accessed by many different types of audiences over the coming weeks.

At this stage people are rightfully unconcerned with strategies and plans, it is simply a case of throwing up the doors (digitally) and inviting audiences in. However, in the weeks ahead, it may be interesting to think more about how we measure the impact of online work, and how those metrics compare with the way cultural organisations typically measure the impact of their work in the physical world. Is someone watching a live stream for half an hour the same as sitting in an auditorium for 2 hours? What is a meaningful interaction with online content shared by a museum? Are we trying to reach more people online? Different people? Encourage different types of interaction?

As we all move to operating virtually you may want to give more thought and discussion to how you measure the audience impact. As a starter for ten we wanted to remind you about the spreadsheet we created, in partnership with The Space and BBC, which lists a range of different metrics across social media (and linked to your website), it is definitely not exhaustive but may help you to think beyond typical reach metrics. You can download it from this page.

Of course, when developing a measurement framework we would always recommend starting with your overall objectives, for example, if you have a specific remit to reach and engage a particular audience or community then overall number of views to a live stream may not be that meaningful.

Over the next few weeks, we will be posting more tips and recommendations for how to measure specific types of online activities. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts you’d like to share or any questions on the topic, please do get in touch.