Virtual reality and the digital landscape

Our digital advice columnist, Cat Leaver, says you need to think outside the box to keep up with the digital landscape

Inherent in so many arts organisations’ propositions is the fact that they offer their audiences a social and inclusive experience. Take the theatre for example, or an orchestra recital, where you sit amongst a crowd of like-minded people from different backgrounds and varying walks of life.

Digital counterparts often fail to emulate this feeling of togetherness, involvement and emotion – so how can you reproduce what you are so good at in the real world in the virtual one?

People are the answer. It is the people involved who generate these feelings and connections. Whether it’s your own people (your staff, actors, performers, artists, musicians) or your audiences, it is their voices and participation that make the real-world experience so much more memorable and engaging.

Sometimes, as we evolve into an increasingly digital world, it can feel like the real people are somewhat forgotten, replaced by data and personas, statistics and conversions. But the true allure of digital is that it can share information and facilitate connections between people far and wide, making the world a smaller and more accessible place.

Digital technology offers an unparalleled opportunity to harness the power of people. And, with new types of digital social interactions infiltrating into the public domain, arts organisations should always be reviewing their digital strategy.

Cat Leaver - Alienation Digital
Cat Leaver

Of course, a solid strategy must be built upon well-defined objectives and an understanding of performance and activity. As marketers we tend to look at what’s working for us (currently) and build on this, but every now and again, to break out of the mould, we have to think: what if?

What if we tried something completely new? What if we look beyond our industry and our experiences and learn from others? What if ‘we boldly go where no man has ever gone before’?

The biggest mistake that organisations make nowadays is thinking that any digital strategy is fixed in time, and this is only common sense given the nature of the medium that this strategy has to evolve constantly, learning as it goes from experience and shifting with technological advances.

And yet by the time so many organisations get round to finishing writing their digital strategies they are already almost out of date.

Read: 4 inspirational digital arts campaigns

A good digital strategy is not a 200-page document detailing every activity that could or should take place over the next five years, because while there will be underpinning goals and measurable objectives that must be achieved, within specific timeframes, even these must evolve. The digital landscape is expanding at such a rate that it would be ridiculous not to implement a strategy that is flexible and based upon constant measurability and iteration.

Digital is disruptive by its very nature. It allows you to automate previously time-consuming processes, streamline communications, reach audiences around the clock on a global scale and personalise messages to increase their propensity for success. Yet still so many organisations have not implemented an effective digital strategy (if one at all).

So before you consider your next marketing campaign, think: How does this align with my overall strategy? Identify what you want to achieve and how you know when this has been achieved, ie defining what success looks like (KPIs). This is the first step to establishing an effective digital strategy.

Cat Leaver is Head of Marketing at Alienation Digital. AD has offices in London and Glasgow.