Learning from Big Data

Reaching out to less engaged family audiences...

Recently, my colleague Leo Sharrock, Director of Data Strategy, presented findings about Family Audiences at the 2017 Family Arts Conference. You can see his presentation here, but I wanted to reflect on this and focus on engaging ‘Facebook Families’ – potential audiences who do not make up a large proportion of arts audiences, but have lots of potential to do so through a family offer.

Findings from big data
What I find incredible is just how many audiences are represented in our national Audience Finder database. Over 700 arts and cultural organisations have contributed data about audiences. We are then able to bring this together and share the bigger picture with the sector. Leo and the data team explored all of the ticketed events that had been coded as ‘children’ or ‘family’ events from 2015 and 2016. That’s data from 32,000 events, 460,000 bookers and 2.5 million tickets!

It helps by starting to think about how the population engage with arts
Audience Spectrum, our segmentation system, divides the population into 10 groups in relation to their attitudes towards culture, and what they like to see and do. This is informed by a whole range of data – from Audience Finder to census and Taking Part data, to primary research. Leo and his team found that four Audience Spectrum segments (see his presentation for more) are more likely to go to family arts events. However, these segments are all high - medium engaged arts audiences anyway. What was most interesting to me – and hopefully you - is the potential to reach out to less engaged audiences through your family offer.

Facebook Families is a less engaged segment that we can reach more effectively through a family offer
Facebook Families make up 12% of the population but only 4% of arts audiences. However, as Leo says: "they are unique among the typically less well engaged groups, in that they attend children and family events in greater proportions than they do other arts events generally."

So, who are Facebook Families, where are they and how to reach them?
There is a fantastically detailed pen portrait here and if you do love stats then download that statistical appendix. In summary, these younger, cash trapped families do not see arts and culture as a key part of their lives. To engage this group, the main offer needs to be free and the hook needs to focus on popular culture or have a community link, with music and festivals being especially popular.
Fun, rather than learning, is a real motivator – and the chance to spend time with family is important as these hard working families are often short for time as well as cash. Local activities are attractive, so this may mean outreach or partnership work is vital.
Drop-in activities should be a core part of the offer – flexibility in timetabling and sensitivity around pricing are key. Once you are on their radar this audience may be more likely to invest more in a paid offer as a treat – such as a birthday outing.

You can register for free on Audience Finder and use the free mapping tool to find out exactly where any segment are. Just type in your organisation’s postcode and you can explore where Facebook Families (and any other segment) live right down to postcode level.

What next
We are excited to develop more insight as the database grows – especially exploring non-ticketed events too which gives us more detailed overview about motivation and experiences of audiences.

Lucie Fitton, Head of Learning and Participation

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