Museum blogging Web metrics

Towards an ROI measure of museum blogging

Museum blogging is taking off.

Jim S and I have been talking a lot about how blogging is an efficient way of generating a buzz around your museum’s content. At the Powerhouse Museum our flagship blog is really the Sydney Observatory’s blog. It has been charting ludicrous traffic – it now represents over 60% of the Sydney Observatory’s traffic and has been responsible for a 300% rise in site visitation. Most excitingly though is the level of audience participation. So far for 111 posts there have been a mammoth 490 user comments after filtering and spam removal. One post on the Mars hoax email received 135 comments.

I’ve been reading Charlene Li at Forresters’ work on corporate blogging. Their reports propose a framework for measuring ROI on organisational blogging. She summarises the methodology as a chart –

(source: Forresters)

Within the non-profit sector brand visibility is the key benefit from blogging – brand awareness leads to potential future (real world visitation), and in terms of collecting museums and research centres, a general awareness of the nature of “what exactly it is you do other than exhibitions”.

The Sydney Observatory has always had a lower public profile than the Powerhouse Museum. Those Sydneysiders who are aware of its existence (and don’t get it confused with the Observatory Hotel) often don’t associate it with a place that they and their family could visit – let alone look through a telescope – each night.

Prior to the launch of the Sydney Observatory blog there was no way for the astronomers at the Observatory to publish sky-related news, let alone the discoveries of amateur astronomy groups affiliated with the Observatory, nor respond to sightings of fireballs in the sky. The previous website architecture didn’t allow for such ‘loose’ content, nor did workflows allow for such material to quickly edited and posted.

Now, though, Sydney Observatory features prominently in Google searches for related topic areas as a result of the content on the blog. It is also critical to understand that everyone who does a search for ‘Comet McNaught Sydney’ for example, and visits the blog (which ranks #2 for such a search), is now made aware of the existence of the Sydney Observatory, and its activities.

Here’s another excerpt from Li –

(from Charlene Li) Q: Is there a standard ROI for blogs? A: Nope – sorry, it isn’t that easy! Just as there isn’t a standard ROI for a Web site, there’s no standard for a blog. It depends on what the goal of the blog is and also how much investment the company (and the blogger) puts into it.

Q: What’s the best way to measure the effectiveness of a blog? A: Again, it starts with the goal of the blog. I strongly suggest that companies start with the goal, develop metrics that measure the attainment of that goal, and find ways to assign value to those metrics.

Q: But aren’t blogs risky? How do you take that into account? A: We definitely take risk into account by generating scenarios that show the impact of low-likelihood but high impact events — such as a lawsuit.

Q: Our CMO/CEO/CFO won’t let us have a blog until we can show him/her the definitive ROI of a blog. Help!! A: It’s not an unreasonable request — they don’t really understand the value of a blog and see just the potential cost and risk. By going through the exercise of defining and quantifying the benefits, costs, and risks of a blog, you’ll be educating your C-level executives while also demonstrating the discipline that they expect.

So, how does your organisation measure the success of its blogs?

Jim and I will present some answers shortly.

4 replies on “Towards an ROI measure of museum blogging”

Hi guys, i think this is a very significant posting you have made. It also reminds me of the conversation we had (on this very blog!) sometime ago about getting the work practices in place to make blogging (or the ideas behind it) part of everyday practice.

Charlene Li’s table is a great way i think to demonstrate to managers the value of this approach and the way blogging adds value so thanks for alerting me to it.

I reckon the best way to get over the risk issue is to just do one! That’s what I’ve done and people loved it and could see the value of it.

Ghost blogs are a big problem.

One of the main issues reported by respondents to Jim and my museum blogging survey was ‘sustainability’. There were plenty of ‘inactive’ museum blogs that we discovered as well as many whose posting frequency (one of the most critical factors in sustaining an audience) had severely decreased.

The survey results will be online soon.

There is a honeymoon period for any new technology – and if the organisation doesn’t reach critical mass in terms of audience, and follow that up with staff support then ghost blogs or worse will be the result 12-18 months down the track.


On Saturday, 20th October 2007 between 10.30 & 12midnight I was sitting on the lounge talking to my friend and I was looking out through the large window facing southeast in the country area of Mt. Burrell. I saw a large circular ball of light traveling from east to west high above the gum trees at the front of the house. The ball of light was surrounded by sparkles. It was in my view for three seconds and then disappeared. I rang the Sydney Observatory and after describing this object was told it was a meteor (bolloid), it had no tail. If I had drawn a circle on the window it would have been between 3 to 4 inches.

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