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The past 25 years have been the age of digital discovery for museums and arts organisations. We see them progressively evolving from traditional marketing efforts to the involvement of digital marketing as they are becoming more aware of the various marketing management tools through the years (Rentschler). The Global Digital Report by We Are Social shows that the number of internet users worldwide in 2018 is 4.021 billion, increasing by 7 percent year-on-year (2018). This massive usage of the internet brings about traffic to the museum’s website and social media platforms from all over the world. It is also pointed out that social media emerged as a current trend in consumer-to-consumer conversation in Bucur and Wen’s paper and the social media also strengthens marketing efforts for museums around the world.
It is commonly acknowledged that digital marketing plays a big role in the marketing success of museums and arts organisations to reach out to audiences. Not only that, it is also proven that the progressive technological advancements have removed any boundaries or barriers to art appreciation around the world from Liew and Loh’s article, E-marketing, Communications and the International Tourist. Belenoiti and Vassiliadis also highlighted that Social media instruments have extended the notion of interaction with consumers. Since it is established that social media is the way to go, does this mean that we can forgo our “once useful” traditional marketing efforts? This article will discuss how digital marketing has rendered traditional marketing obsolete.
The application of digital marketing and communication efforts brings about an assortment of benefits for the international tourist and the museum (Liew and Loh). The infinite shelf life of exhibitions enables the museum’s targeted audience not only to keep returning back after their visit since there are no age restrictions, no working hours and no entrance fees for online portals (Liew and Loh). Liew and Loh also remarked that museums benefit intensely as their visitorship profiles widened geographically and demographically as international tourists around the world are able to access the museum’s information via online portals through any information-receiving devices such as tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktops. Museums have always been popular tourist destinations (Kelly).
The World Tourism revealed that tourism across the world has experienced unremitting growth over the recent decades. It has become one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world (2018). Museums and arts organisation are benefitting from this as tourism works reciprocally because the demands of museums for culture tourists are high. As defined by The National Trust for Historic Preservation – United States, Cultural heritage tourism is traveling to experience the places, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present (Gibson 2015). Traveling as tourists have become a regular part of life for everyone, rather than a one-off experience (Kelly). The center-left British newspaper, The Guardian also mentioned that digital engagement is changing habits and behaviors of tourists (2013).
International tourists of all ages and backgrounds who attains information from any information-receiving device would be able to plan out certain aims and objectives to fulfill during their visit to the museum to enhance their overall museum or gallery experience (Liew and Loh). Ideologically, there would be a pre-trip desire for inspiration and planning, and also a post-trip need to share memories and recommendations, and back again (The Guardian 2013). Without their information receiving devices, international tourists would not have prior knowledge to plan out their visits to museums and various performances.
Digital marketing offers the prospects to target a much larger international audience as compared to traditional marketing. Museums and arts organisations also able to track the success rate of digital marketing easily by the means of remarketing methods, paid and organic search as well as interactions on social media, whereas the inadequately equipped traditional marketing does not simply allow museums and arts organisations to do so (Poparic 2018).
In Vassiliadis and Balenioti’s paper, they confirmed that social media applications are becoming the new communication status quo to market museums and arts organisations. According to We Are Social’s Global Digital Report, the number of social media users worldwide in 2018 is 3.196 billion (2018). With this magnitude of social media users, people viewing marketing content on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and would be remarkable. Moreover, it has been reported that there has been a steady increase in social media users. The global increase in social media usage since January 2017 is 13% (We Are Social 2018). Zafiropoulos, Vrana and Antoniadis shared an affirmative example on how British Museum uses social media to offer access to digital content, communicate ideas, encourage and facilitate discussion, and market to the world-wide online audience.
Museum visitors are able to express their experiences on social media, share their memories and observations and also upload photos taken during their visit. Through this, Zafiropoulos et al. emphasised that their use of social media transforms visitors into active participators that essentially acts as the museum’s ambassadors . Active participation from museum-goers extends the reach of the museum to not only the museum’s target audience but also the museum goer’s social circle. US museums also use Facebook as a platform to distribute information about their programmes and topics that are relevant to their exhibitions. Their posts intend to inform and prepare people for their physical visit, reinforce the experience after the visit and create independent, online experiences (Zafiropoulos et al.). On the other hand, traditional marketing efforts would not able to extend the function to enable museum-goers to have unique experiences. Social media also enables a participating learning process. Vassiliadis and Balenioti show that museum’s learning process is becoming more social, modern, young and at the same time entertaining.
Zafiropoulos et al. also attests that museums are using social media to reach out to young audiences and to provide interactive learning tools and relevant forms of interpretation. In a journal by Bitner and Albinsson in 2016, it was quoted that millennials are exposed to digital readiness at a young age, therefore leading to high social media use. Liew and Loh further validates that the audience group for museums arts organisations expands to include a younger generation who are fervent users of digital media. With the youths taking up the majority of social media platforms, museums are able to reach to them via targeted digital marketing, a function that would be difficult for traditional marketing as its content target the masses (Yusof 2017). Traditional marketing poses an abundance of difficulties for museums and arts organisations. One of the restrictions of traditional marketing would be to target a specific demographic. With digital marketing, it is possible for museums and arts organisations to segment and customise their audience on the receiving end of marketing campaigns accurately. For example, Facebook advertising allows the brand to set precise demographics such as location, age range, gender, and the user’s interest.
Essentially, a higher success rate would be exhibited. Targeted advertising is twice as successful as untargeted advertising (D’Souza 2017). With targeted advertising across social media platforms, museums and arts organisations are able to save on the high cost of traditional marketing too. After discussing the many benefits of digital marketing, museums and arts organisations are able to reach out to their target audience without traditional marketing. With the technological readiness of the Internet, there are no restrictions or limitations for museums and arts organisations to fulfill effective digital marketing.
International tourists, as well as museum-goers, are able to plan out their jaunt in advance upon receiving targeted information from museums and arts organisations through their information-receiving devices. Museum-goers essentially become active participants on social media as they would be keen to share their experience and memories on social media, creating visibility for museums and arts organisations. Since traditional media imposes a massive costly marketing model that is unable to perform as well as digital marketing and social media targeted advertising, it would not be necessary for museums and arts organisations to utilise traditional marketing, hence rendering traditional marketing obsolete.
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