Hello. I'm a digital marketer and freelancer in the creative and cultural sectors, currently working at the British Library. I like blogging about digital stuff, social media, museums, art, entrepreneurship, design and creativity.

The numbers behind London’s museums and galleries on Instagram

The numbers behind London’s museums and galleries on Instagram

Welcome to my first blog on my new site!  I have written for the British Library’s ‘Inspired by’ blog for the last few years, and thought it was time to start my own. 

The topic for my first article? The numbers behind London’s top museums and galleries on Instagram. I recently started looking at the potential of Instagram for museums and libraries: what makes a good post, how to get the most likes, etc.  I like content which engages people with collections (like the V&A’s #MyHorstPhoto campaign) and gives them a ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of museum life. 

Instagram is similar to a lot of social media channels in that it enables us to be more playful, have half decent conversations with people and reach out to those who, realistically, may never get to visit our buildings. Plus it’s free and easy to set up.

I also like it because given the choice, in my personal life, I prefer to express myself through pictures. The emphasis is on good quality images, so you are spared all those crummy images of philosophical messages that are flooding Facebook.

To start my research, I wanted to get a feel for the numbers of people engaging with museums and galleries in this way.  

Instagram has over 200m active users worldwide. As a community of users, we like 1.6bn images per day and we post 60m photos per day. According to eMarketer, Instagram users (as a percentage of social network users) have increased from 7% in 2013 to 14% in 2014. It also predicts that anything between 40 – 70% of marketers worldwide are already using it as a channel (sources vary).

Image: British Museum Instagram feed

Image: British Museum Instagram feed

Museums and galleries are becoming more popular than ever. DCMS reported last week that visitor figures are at an all-time high.  So we have two growing areas working together: Instagram and cultural visitors.

Here are the stats taken from the top 15 museums and galleries in London according to ALVA (Association of Leading Visitor Attractions) and their number of Instagram followers.

Image: Analysis of London museums and galleries on Instagram.

Image: Analysis of London museums and galleries on Instagram.

So what do the numbers tell you? Firstly, the gains can be high - Tate Gallery has over 99k followers, which is larger than a number of UK cities: Sheffield, Bristol, Nottingham, you get the idea.  

The institutions that are storming ahead are the Tate, British Museum, V&A and Science Museum. There is also a correlation between the number of posts and the number of followers, although this is not as obvious for Somerset House and the National Portrait Gallery (they are also lower down the list in terms of visitor figures).  It also shows that it  isn’t too much effort for cultural institutions to engage with people on Instagram – none of the institutions have posted more than 350 images.

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