In this first piece from InsightX guest experts, Cristina Motta, social listening manager in the art industry, discusses the importance of social media insights to manage reputation, reduce risks and assess sentiment and trends.
One of the most common questions I am asked when I say I am a social listening manager working in the arts is why managing the online reputation of a cultural institution or an artist is important. Nowadays, analysing and monitoring online conversations to assess potential risks and guide brand positioning is considered a given for big corporations in other industries, but is it also crucial for art institutions? Let me answer the question very straightforwardly: Yes, it is!
There are various areas that an artist or an art institution can assess through media monitoring and intelligence. These include:
- Identifying what the top trends are in order to adapt to market and customer needs
- Who are the industry experts and emerging institutions to engage in conversation and collaborate with
- And often most importantly, spot any potential risks they may run into
Social media insights also help them maintain a constant and positive conversation with their audience. This is particularly important nowadays because although people buy more digital art than before and rely on online marketplaces, they also want to establish and maintain a direct relationship with the artist.
Speaking of digital art, I am sure it comes as no surprise when I say that keeping the web and online conversations monitored has become even more important now, with the surge of NFTs in the art world. Today, more and more people use online marketplaces and sites to buy and sell digital art and expand their network. But is this a safe environment, free of criticisms, scams and other risks? Definitely not! If we just think about climate change and energy sustainability, NFTs are at the centre of criticism for their negative impact on the environment, and high energy and gas fees.
Several museums and galleries have been keen on jumping on this latest industry success, but as they lack the expert knowledge internally, they have to rely on external providers, which can create significant risk if the chosen company proves to be unreliable, causing reputational damage to the institution.
At the same time, keeping up with the rapid changes in the industry and innovating to satisfy customers in the art world is essential. Monitoring and media intelligence can support cultural institutions and artists in these efforts in a few different key areas:
Protecting reputation and mitigating risks
The digital art industry is evolving at incredible speed and the number of new related companies and projects emerging is increasing significantly and at a faster pace every day. And so does the number of members and followers that actively participate in these communities. It is therefore crucial for an art business to be able to identify any risks, potential scams, fake accounts or suspicious online activity as fast as possible, as well as any negative feedback and posts that may impact their reputation. Ensuring the safety and trustworthiness of these projects needs to be at the forefront of cultural organisations’ plans to maintain their reliability in the public’s eye.
The British Museum’s first NFT project, which saw paintings by Turner and Hokusai being sold in NFT versions via the website La Collection, saw negative reactions to the idea, with critics even stating the museum has “diminished itself” with the project. In Italy, the Uffizi Gallery launched its first Digital Art Works (DAWs) collection in partnership with Italian startup Cinello, immediately sparking debate in the press as it became the centre of a journalistic investigation on TV discussing how the revenues of the project had been shared between the museum and the company.
By conducting crisis monitoring and using social media alerts, an organisation can also identify, block and report any accounts impersonating an artist or an institution, as well as stop scams that could compromise their members’ activity and digital wallets, or even assist a customer having technical issues before these escalate. If we think about the more recent news of Bored Ape Yacht Club’s Instagram account being hacked with an estimated $3M worth of NFTs lost, it is clear why there is the need to try and prevent these issues and implement security measures on the platforms.
Measuring brand success
Especially now with the launch of multiple NFT projects and auctions, it has become fundamental for an art institution or digital art business to understand how their brand and projects are performing and what their clients’ responses are. By conducting ongoing sentiment analysis and closely monitoring the impact of their campaigns and the engagement of their customers online, they can identify areas of improvement for their current and future projects, and meet customers’ expectations.
The Currency, for instance, is British artist Damien Hirst’s first NFT project, which has garnered a high level of engagement and discussion online since its launch in July 2021, with an average of around 100/200 posts each day. Being able to identify what people liked the most about this project – namely, the utility (perks) given with these NFTs and the possibility to choose between digital and physical art – made everyone conscious of what people expect from the digital art world while showing their still lively interest in physical art.
Engaging with communities
An art institution or artist should use intelligence analysis to keep their communities constantly updated and involved in their projects, and make sure that everyone feels like an active participant in each collection they create. Younger audiences especially want to be part of the creation process and not only passive viewers. For this reason, monitoring online conversations from their audience and actively engaging with customers, responding to various discussion topics, questions and requests they have, is fundamental. The exponential growth of instant messaging social platform Discord, and of the countless 24-hour-active NFT channels, demonstrate the public’s need to have constant contact with an artist, gallery and institution and to feel part of a project on an ongoing basis. Listening to suggestions and ideas and using feedback to improve service are key. This is also helpful to create a community that is loyal and attached to the brand of the artist or the museum overall, and not just to an individual project or exhibition.
Discovering trends, both current and future
Last but not least, among the biggest challenges that many brands are facing nowadays – not only in the arts – is being able to align themselves with current consumer trends and predict future user behaviours. By analysing the broader market and trends, an art institution can use insights to predict what customers expect from them and the art world, and how they want them to behave. To stand by their sustainable and green agendas, for instance, art institutions should offer a sustainable NFT ecosystem that helps save energy and costs and limits the impact NFTs have on the environment. In this sense, blockchains like Palm have clearly been rewarded for their environmental practices.
Dealing with these evolving and complex topics almost always leads to criticisms, and it is no different for the art world! Social media analysis adds context to online conversations and helps you direct your communications efforts on the key issues that matter to your customers.
InsightX’s Reaction and Sentiment service combines online and social media monitoring and reporting with our due diligence services, keeping you on top of any emerging issues that might impact your reputation and tracking changes in sentiment towards your company, executive team, products, brands, endorsers and sponsorship subjects.