Promoting GLAMs : key questions to ask yourself while collaborating !

Kalighat Painting, Calcutta, 19th century | Cleveland Museum of Art | CC0 | Wikimedia Commons

Cultural Institutions are always looking to reach new audiences, and one way to achieve that is through effective partnerships. In this post, I talk about the metrics and questions any institution — GLAMs / heritage sites / cultural publications, etc. should review to find the right partners!

Transparency is a key feature of working digitally, and especially when working in collaboration with others. Gone are those days when one could simply rely on an email that said “we reach 200000 people…and here’s why you should partner with us”.
> I do run a quick check on folks who send these mails to us and I cannot send emails without attaching past reports when seeking an opportunity to partner!<
(That said, numbers aren’t the reason why you partner with someone — it could well as be the shared mission or value : else, why would anyone partner with us when we had just started, and our website had reached only a handful of readers? However if there’s a financial aspect involved, these numbers become a consideration)

In the last year, The Heritage Lab partnered with a host of museums, publishers, galleries, auction houses, commercial brands, tourism boards and India’s first museum-biennale! As digital-partners, our goal is to ensure reach, and engagement; but also provide value to our own readers / followers.
Interestingly, not all our partners asked questions, some took a really long while to assess the value we’d provide and yet some had targeted questions for us.

For any partnership effort to be effective, here are a few questions to ask :

1. Reach Vs Engagement : what is the objective to partner ?

For instance, if working on a conference series, perhaps you place more importance on reach; you’d then like to look at partners who can help you with that.
If while promoting an exhibition, you’re hoping to engage audiences perhaps you place value on your partner’s ability to engage the community (no matter how small it is!).

2. Is this the right match?

Before approaching a potential partner, you can already ascertain their alignment with your goals :

  • is there an audience-fit? do they reach the kind of audience you’d like to?
  • is there a content-fit ? do they create the kind of content you feel comfortable aligning with?
  • are their audiences going to be interested in the content you will offer?

At this point, number of followers or readership does not need to be a huge number for someone to be considered for a partnership. It does not need to be numbers like “30,000”; it can well as be “1000 people” — what matters is, their performance : reach or engagement with their community.

3. Ask for valid metrics ahead of your partnership

This part is most important — especially if this is a paid partnership. Again, whether paid or not, you do want to keep track of your goals, so it vital that you have these details! Ask your potential partners to share:

  • a report on audience demographics, reach, engagement, website clicks etc. This should be substantiated with screenshots of the ‘Insights’ dashboard of a social media platform / be generated from platforms such as HypeAuditor.
    HypeAuditor has a mix of paid and free tools; I love that they have an Earned Media Value [EMV] calculator as well !
Screenshot taken on May 20, 2021.
  • while partnering with websites, ask for screenshots from Google Analytics or Semrush that indicate website-traffic (number of visitors per day / month or you might want to know the number of page-sessions); visitor demographics, visitor behaviour (amount of time spent on each visit) etc.
  • in case of newsletter-partnerships, asking for metrics on number of subscribers, open-rate or link-click-rate is helpful [how many subscribers opened the email or clicked on links in the newsletter is more important than the number of subscribers].

If you want to save on some extra correspondence and the back & forth discussions, have a benchmark for the kind of partners you need, and you can simply run the above checks on your own using the same tools. You can then reach out to only those partners that meet your requirements and suit your budget (if it’s a paid partnership).

4. Metrics, before and after

For an Instagram collaboration, ask your partners to share statistics of their posts from *the week before* the start of your partnership. This reveals the kind of engagement and reach that you can realistically expect from the content your partner creates.

Once the partnership ends, ask your partner to share performance reports for the specific posts : how many people we reached, the engagement, etc.

On Instagram, the metrics aren’t limited to likes and comments, but also the number of times the post was saved, and shared.

5. Finally, the $$$ question

In case you’re working with a partner on a paid partnership, or are asked to pay:

While you can always check with tools like HypeAuditor, to estimate the EMV of your marketing campaign, you can simply ask the potential partners to quote their fee.

(just realised while writing this post that HypeAuditor also has a fee-calculator — but just to clarify, we haven’t ever charged like this! *insert wide-eyed emoji*)

Screenshot : May 20, 2021

The fee-calculator helps you understand industry standards but is in no way set in stone.

To many of my friends, the above might sound like things you already know — if I have missed an essential question, or something you’d be curious to know from a potential partner, please leave a comment. We’re all learning and growing together. If you’re working at a GLAM institution, and this is your first time reaching out to potential partners, hopefully the post will help with the initial questions! Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have additional comments / queries!

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Medhavi Gandhi

Cultural heritage + public engagement; art + activism; history + creative inquiry learning. Museum Ninja at The Heritage Lab. Content + Consulting (Digital).