Making it FAIR case study: Gawthorpe Textiles

The Making it FAIR project was developed in response to challenges faced by smaller museums struggling to engage online with audiences during lockdown, and beyond. Eight small museums worked with a range of partners including Culture24, Collections Trust and The Audience Agency to explore and develop their digital content and storytelling with collections. Over five months, each museum experimented with new ideas, approaches, processes and, where relevant, technical solutions, to help them build digital skills and to create engaging, relevant, fit-for-purpose digital content.

This is one of a set of eight case studies. You can find a summary of all of the Making it FAIR project case studies here.

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What did you want to find out? | What did you do? | What were the challenges? | What did you learn? | What’s next? | Top tips and insights

What did you want to find out?

  • To better understand how audiences are engaging with the collection online
  • Whether Pinterest was a good tool to use to reach target audiences
  • To better understand which aspects of the collection were attracting the most interest so that we can create tailored content.

What did you do?

  • Survey to target audience
  • Research into Pinterest to scope out a plan
  • Created a Pinterest account which included claiming content already on the app which had been pinned from our online Gallery
  • Created 3 sample boards on the themes of “Embroideries close up”, “Bags, Purses and Reticules”, “19th Century Printed Fabrics”
  • Promoted the boards to our audiences through social media
  • Monitored the analytics.

Below is a screen capture from Gawthrope Textile’s Instagram account, of a piece of content created through their Making it FAIR experiment.

What were the challenges?

  • Reigning in the ideas and focusing in on content
  • Getting input from the target audiences
  • Getting our heads around the terminology and analytics
  • Understanding how Pinterest finds and draws out relevant content in response to searches.
  • Staff capacity to develop the content and the amount of image processing required to make the photos ready for Pinterest.

What did you learn?

  • Using Pinterest gave us a useful platform to reach different and broader audiences
  • We found the age category 25-34 (which is a non-traditional audience for the organisation) was being engaged
  • We gained a better understanding of where people were accessing content from geographically and were surprised at how international our audience was, with a particular concentration in India
  • Our target audience was South Asian women in their late 20s-early 30s. The statistics support that we are being successful in providing desirable content for this audience
  • Practically, we learned how to use image editing software with batch editing technology to streamline the process of uploading images to Pinterest.

What’s next?

  • Getting direct feedback from audiences
  • Piloting the use of Pinterest with community groups
  • Exploring more about how people are using the content and what the priority areas for new content would be
  • Museum Crush article and potential further experiment with Instagram
  • Feeding the learning into their Heritage Fund digital innovation project over the next 18 months.

Top tips and insights

  • Give yourself enough time for undertaking the process and be aware that it will also take time to get enough data to confidently make assessments of engagement
  • Be prepared to adapt your plans if you find that something isn’t working
  • Build up the experiment through a series of incremental actions rather than trying to be too ambitious straight away.

Funding and partners: Making It FAIR was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Towards a National Collection programme (TaNC) as part of UKRI’s call for COVID-19 projects. The project was led by University of York and partners were Collections Trust, Culture24, Museum of London Archaeology, The Audience Agency, Intelligent Heritage and Knowledge Integration.