What Can We Learn from Our Users? Visitor Feedback and Social Media

What Can We Learn from Our Users? Visitor Feedback and Social Media Time Thursday 21st November 3:30pm to 5:00pm Trilce Navarrete @TrilceNavarrete Researcher, University of Amsterdam Elena Villaespesa @elenustika Digital Analyst, Tate Sheila Carey @scarey_thoughts Audience and Programs Analyst, Canadian Heritage Information Network Irene Rubino @IreRubino Research Assistant, Politecnico di Torino (Polytechnic of Turin, Italy) User feedback has always been greatly valued by heritage institutions aiming at improving their service to users in an increasingly changing digital environment. Though web statistics are a rich source of information, visitor comments allow a deeper insight into the experience: What do users like or dislike, and what do they think about the museum? This panel will present perspectives from Italy, Canada, and the UK, where visitor feedback has been gathered via the web and social media. In 2011, on the 150th anniversary of the unity of Italy, an initiative fostered participation and critical reflection on themes such as education, civil rights, and identity. Users posted comments through social networks and a digital interactive feature in the Palazzo Madama-Museo Civico d'Arte Antica (UNESCO site in Turin, Italy), and the data will be made public at MCN 2013. Since 2001, the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) has been collecting and coding user feedback at the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC). To date, several thousand such messages have been catalogued, representing a valuable historic data source. This paper will look at changes over time in the types of comments received, ways in which we can look at those messages, what sentiment analysis can tell us, and what we can learn about changing user expectations. And in the UK, visitors who come to Tate post on social media about their experiences, sharing content and expressing opinions and feelings about their visits. We encourage the use of specific hashtags for each exhibition or big event. This data offers a great opportunity for museums to learn about visitors and their opinions. Case studies from Tate also will illustrate practical and methodological challenges involved in capturing and analyzing social media. A discussion will address methods of evaluation (what to do with the user comments?), various approaches (the web vs. social media), changes in time (how have museums changed?), and what this all means: What can we learn from user feedback?