To deliver the ambition increase the Group’s digital reach and impact as well as maintaining the current outputs the Science Museum Group (SMG) has four priorities:
- Drive museum visits, amplify programmes and support income generation;
- Curate the world’s greatest science collection online;
- Build a digital SMG to multiply reach;
- Partner smartly to enhance SMG’s strategic priorities.
PRIORITY 1: DRIVE MUSEUM VISITS, AMPLIFY REACH OF PROGRAMMES AND SUPPORT INCOME GENERATION
SMG will continue to embed digital throughout the organisation in support of all strategic objectives, programmes and activities.
SMG digital media and channels are central to delivering marketing and communications to audiences through our web estate, social media, email and partnerships, and effective activity here will be key to audience building and the success of our programmes.
Due to the nature of the collections, SMG has a rich history of digital media within exhibitions and galleries to create extraordinary experiences, bring collections to life and provide meaningful interactivity which delivers well-defined learning objectives. The ambitious masterplan and exhibition programmes will grow these outputs, especially outside London.
The Group’s online learning resources were a particular success of the pandemic lockdowns and there is an ambition to “bring the power of digital technology into how learning activities are delivered to deepen engagement, amplify reach, provide new forms of interactivity and increase efficiency” (SMG Learning Strategy 2020–30).
Donations, commerce and ticketing are increasingly digitally delivered and opportunities for the Group to increase income through digital channels will be explored.
PRIORITY 2: CURATE THE WORLD’S GREATEST SCIENCE COLLECTION ONLINE
SMG will provide unparalleled access to the collection for the public, educators and researchers through an ongoing digitisation programme, digital collecting initiatives, research projects and adoption of new technologies.
The collection is estimated to be 425,000 objects (3D) and 7m archive items (2D). The vast majority of the collection is not on display, but digital provides access to those objects, in many cases for the first time.
Since the launch in 2016, visits to the Collection Online website have grown strongly. Through the One Collection project and other projects, the percentage of the object collection online with an image has increased from 24,000 to 123,000.
Once digitised, there are significant opportunities for research projects that deepens the scholarship around the online collection, and innovation projects that enhance discovery and the experience of the digitised collection.
PRIORITY 3: BUILD DIGITAL SMG TO MULTIPLY REACH
SMG will make a step change in the scale of its mission delivery by addressing a global digital audience through a new content strategy that is grounded in the principles of science capital and focused on video content for adults and children.
Digitisation alone will not deliver a step-change in digital impact. Reach is achieved through content that brings the Group’s collection and STEM subjects to life. To be effective, digital content must be targeted at well-defined audience needs. For these audiences, the digital museum is the museum and should therefore be considered as much a part of mission delivery as a physical visit.
Currently, 60% of online visits are unrelated to a museum visit. Audience research (2018/20), has shown that these audiences are motived by “enquiries” and therefore discover science content primarily via search.
To achieve this reach, a new editorial content strategy will be required that is:
- Audience centred – Initially targets two audiences (adults and children) and focuses on topics which can be drawn from the public programme but would also need to be commissioned independently of these against topics that are popular or strategically important;
- Repeatable – develops a number of formats using a test-and-learn methodology across content, user experience and marketing;
- Discoverable – is optimised for discovery via search.
PRIORITY 4: PARTNER SMARTLY TO ENHANCE SMG’S STRATEGIC PRIORITIES
SMG will seek out digital partnerships that help deliver the Group’s strategic priorities and build capacity and capability.
Previous successful digital initiatives have demonstrated that there are opportunities to deliver innovation, impact and reach through partnerships and external funding.