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Recording online collection visits in Local Authority museums and galleries

Introduction

Since the introduction of The Local Government Act 1992, Local Authority councils have been required by law to report on performance standards, in order to measure how well they are carrying out their activities. These statutory performance indicators are relevant to fully-funded Local Authority museums and galleries and those who are part-funded by a Local Authority. These indicators have developed over time in to a more condensed framework called The Local Government Benchmarking Framework.

What is the Local Government Benchmarking Framework?

The Local Government Benchmarking Framework (LGBF) was developed by the Improvement Service, on behalf of SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives), in 2012. The purpose of the Local Government Benchmarking Framework is:

  • to help councils and their services better understand why they achieve their current performance levels;
  • to build understanding of where and why council performance varies; and
  • to help identify and share good practice across councils.

The Framework is a series of indicators in seven key areas; Children’s Services, Adult Social Care, Culture and Leisure, Environmental Services, Corporate Services, Housing and Economic Development planning.

This guide will focus on the indicator most relevant to museums and galleries. C&L3: Net Cost per visit to museums and galleries. 

Definitions

Number of Visits/Usage refers to the total number of visits, not individual visitors, to council-funded or part-funded museums and galleries and their online collection information.

For this indicator visits/usage means:

  • physical visits to your museum or gallery by members of the public, including group visits and schools’ visits
  • enquiries (through whatever medium) that involve the public gaining knowledge from/about the museum collections
  • outreach visits by museum staff to specific audiences.
  • “Virtual Visits” meaning the total number of views of collection information displayed online.

Museums should include data from visits/enquiries through which the public gain knowledge from or about the collections. Do not include general enquiries about the museum, such as opening hours, ticket information, location or media enquiries, briefings and interviews.

Recording Virtual Visits has become increasingly varied as museums and galleries have digitised their collections and made them accessible through online channels. To give an accurate and fuller picture of how collections knowledge is accessed online, museums and galleries, who are required to report on indicator C&L3, should collect Virtual Visits data from a broader range of online tools if they are being used to share collections knowledge.

The following list of areas you could gather Virtual Visits data from reflects online tools often used by museums and galleries to share their collections online. This list is not exhaustive and you should compile your own list of online tools you use to share collections knowledge online:

  • Museum pages of a local authority website (if they have collection data)
  • Museum run websites or blogs
  • Social Media Tools such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat
  • Image hosting websites such as Flickr
  • Video hosting websites such as Youtube or Vimeo
  • Podcasts or audio hosting websites such as Soundcloud
  • Third Party Websites such as ArtUK

Recording Virtual Visits for LGBF

Website Analytics

In most instances, Google Analytics will be the provider of website statistics for your online collection information. This can be used for all websites, including third party websites and  blogs, if Google Analytics has been set up to record your website data. You may already have access to Google Analytics for other reporting or you may need to request the statistics from your IT department, marketing team or whoever manages your website on your behalf. If you believe that your website is not set up to allow Google Analytics tracking then you may wish to use the Google guide “Getting Started with Analytics” to set this up. The guide offers step by step instruction and video tutorials to walk you through the process. 

Google Analytics displays information from the last seven days by default. You should ensure that you have set the correct date parameters to collect data from. This will either be a twelve-month period or a shorter timescale if you have chosen to collect this data regularly throughout the year.  

The metric you need to gather for the indicator is called Page Views. This measures how many times a web page has been accessed and viewed by a user. This includes single and multiple views of a web page. As of 2019, information on page views can be found in the ‘Behaviour’ tab under ‘Site Content’.  

You will need to know the area of website where your collections data is held. This is called the url path. It is displayed after the forward slash (/) after the domain name of your website, e.g.

https://www.museumsgalleriesscotland.org.uk/advice/collections

Often the url path you need will be something like /collections or /explore-our-collections. If all your collection information is held on pages that all start with the same url path you can quickly generate a total for all the pages using the advanced filter function. Click the link “advanced”. This can be found on the header of the table next to a search bar.

Once the filter is applied the total displayed at the top of the “pageviews” column is the figure you need for your reporting. If you have collections information in several areas of your website you will need to repeat this process for each area.

 

Some blogging platforms, such as Wordpress, provide site statistics with their service. If your blog has not been set up to use insights from Google Analytics you can find your page view information in the ‘Site Stats’ or Jetpack area of the blog. We would recommend that you consider implementing Google Analytics on your websites where possible as it is a time saving way to collate reporting data.   

Social Media Insights

Many museums now use social media as a tool to share information about their collections with the public. This activity also counts as online usage of museum collections information and should be recorded against the indicator. Social media platforms have different time limits on how long they will hold your user engagement data. This means that you may not have access to all the data for the full twelve month period for your next submission. Museums facing this issue should include as much information that can reasonably be retroactively supplied. You should begin recording these usage statistics in full for all future submissions.

The social media metric you need to gather for the indicator is engagement. Engagement represents a specific action a user has taken to interact with your collections shared through social media. These may include liking or sharing a post, clicking a link or image or replying to your post. Engagement metrics are a more reliable way to track collection data usage because they represent a tangible action. Many social media platforms will also use additional metrics such as impressions or reach. These metrics are based on predications of how many people may view your content and provide an average figure. You should not include these figures in your indicator reporting.

It is advisable to add a trackable hashtag (a word or phrase with a # before it)  to social media posts that primarily contain collections images and information. This will make it easier for you to identify which posts needs to be included in your reporting. If you need more guidance Twitter has a helpful blog which explains using hashtags in your social media posts.

Social Media Reporting Tools

There are many tools available to help aggregate social media analytics from many different platforms in to one dashboard or report. Whilst they are not free to use, they offer a timely and convenient way to record information about your social media presence. If your local authority has a Communications and Marketing team they may already be paying for one of these tools. They may be able to provide you with the indicator data you need if they are given enough notice. It’s worth speaking to them in advance about what help they can offer. 

If you don’t have access to one of these tools then following guidance will help you gather engagement metrics from the most commonly used social media platforms:

Facebook Insights

You can view statistics about your museum’s Facebook page under ‘Insights’ when you are signed into the ‘Manage Page’ section. Insights can normally be found at the top of the page above your header image.

Access your engagement data through the “post engagements” tab on the Insights tab. Post engagements will display all your previously published posts in to a table. The engagement column will collectively display how many interactions, such as reactions and comments, each of your posts received.  

Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics can be accessed through the homepage of Twitter in the profile and settings menu at the top of the page. Engagement metrics are found in the ‘Tweet’ header.

Twitter will display data on the last 28 days by default but will let you view statistics over a three month block. You will need to decide which tweets include information about your collection and note the number of engagements those posts received.

Twitter screengrab

Instagram Insights

If you use an Instagram business account to post images of items from your collection you can use Instagram Insights track how many people have engaged with your posts. Instagram business accounts are available to everyone with an Instagram account. You can change to a business account in your profile settings by clicking ‘Switch to business profile’. Instagram Insights can only be accessed through the Instagram mobile app from your profile settings menu.

To access your engagement data click “content” and “see all” in Posts. This will display all your images over a 12 month period with the number of engagements each post had. Engagement is normally the statistic displayed by default but you can change the filter parameters of the results by clicking on the phrase next to ‘sorted by’.    

Video Analytics

YouTube Analytics

If you use YouTube to share videos about your collection you should include the viewing figures for those videos in your reporting. If you are signed in to your YouTube account you can access these figures directly at www.youtube.com/analytics.

Viewing figures for each of your videos can be found in a table in the “Watch Time” tab.

Youtube screengrab

Vimeo Stats

If you share collection videos through Vimeo you can access your figures directly at www.vimeo.com/stats if you are signed in to your account. The figures you need to gather  for your reporting are video plays which can be found in your video report. Vimeo allows you to filter which videos you wish to include in an exportable .CSV report, allowing you to gather the necessary figures quickly and efficiently. 

Vimeo screengrab

Third Party Websites

Art UK

Many museum institutions across the UK have images from their art collections available to view on the Art UK website. Museums can access usage statistics about how users are interacting with their collection images on the website.

These statistics can be provided on request through your regular Art UK account. Please contact info@artuk.org for further information. 

Partner Museums are also able to sell prints, licences and merchandise through Art UK. More information about participating in the Art UK Shop is available from Camilla.Stewart@artuk.org

Sketchfab

Sketchfab is an online platform to host and share 3D, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) content. Many cultural heritage organisations, who have started to 3D scan their collections or physical buildings, use Sketchfab to share their 3D object models with a wider audience. If you use Sketchfab to publish 3D scans of your collection items you should record and report your object views. This can be found as an overall total on your profile page under “Stats”.

The “views” figure represents the number of all-time views all of your collection objects have received. It is recommended that you record this figure at regular intervals to track the increases over time.

Sketchfab offers a free account upgrade to Pro level, and a 50% discount on Premium and Business level to cultural heritage organisations.

Sketchfab screengrab

Other platforms

If you use any other platforms, information on collecting engagement statistics is normally freely available online. You can find this either through the platform itself or via a google search 

Contact

Kelly Forbes
Digital Manager
Kellyf@museumsgalleriesscotland.org.uk
0131 550 4112