Is your museum ready to turn curators to live-streamers, or even retailers? Here are the most pioneering answers from peers in China.
China is digitally transforming at an unmatched rate, especially during the current mass quarantine when online communications and entertainment is more on demand than ever. In the last two weeks, the ever-popular live-streaming has swept and overwhelmed the museum world nationwide, public and private.
Taobao Live, a live-streaming arm of e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, witnessed a great leap during the lockdown of the country. According to Taobao，the number of live broadcast rooms grew 700% in January to February 2020. Over this Easter Weekend, the 6th Vol. of Taobao Yunyou or Taobao Cloud Tour provided a live-streaming relay, joining hands with nearly a dozen museums, including Dunhuang Academy China, Fosun Foundation, How Art Museum, K11 Guangzhou, Red Brick Art Museum and teamLab Borderless Shanghai, etc. The live- streaming slot of each of the cultural institutions was scheduled with an hour gap between one another (see picture below), and the institutions were given the rehearsal or testing opportunity before the live-streaming day. With the push of Taobao, the campaign brought around 80,000-90,000 viewers to each of the live-streaming sessions.
Q: Who are the live-streamers?
A: Anyone from museum curators, to museum members, or museum staff from public program departments, or museum shop assistants. It can be one person, or two-persons, or a variety show. Fosun Foundation invited one member to co-host the live-streaming with their staff; while How Art Museum and Red Brick Art Museum both had curators in front of the cameras.
Q: How to utilize the hours-long live-streaming?
A: Anything from special exhibition tours, to museum architecture and garden tours, or a walk and talk in the museum shop, and even having afternoon tea streamed on screen.
Q: What's the process?
A: Greeting and Introduction → Schedule Announcement (including lucky draw, gifts) → Touring → Product/Membership Ad Placement → Interactive Chatting → Gifting→ Touring → on a LOOP ... During each of the live-streaming, there were about 15 to 30 products introduced by the host, time-based special discounts were offered too.
Q: What are the gifts?
A: Ranging from special exhibition tickets to membership, limited-edition tote bags, licensed products, artist's editions, afternoon tea vouchers, etc.
Dos and Don'ts
1. Make sure you've got the right gadgets! You need video STABILIZER, you might need extra lighting, and you definitely need ultra-fast INTERNET!!! The technical quality of IMAGE is the KEY to a successful live-streaming. No one would stay to be tortured by the desperate "loading". If the connection speed and quality is poor, then it is "DEAD-Streaming" rather than a "LIVE-Streaming".
2. The quality of the SOUND is equally crucial, which means you'd better have professional MICROPHONES. Also, make sure there is no other disturbing background music to distract your long-distance viewers, who can't contextualise the sound naturally from afar.
3. Lots of INTERACTION please. This is the main element differentiating live-streaming from a video. If there is no simultaneous interaction, it is a waste of people's efforts to make such an online appointment happen. Two way communication, also read and respond to people's comments and react. Lots of gifts!!!
4. Good balance of the role as educator and salesperson! Keep reminding yourself of the nature of museums! People are buying products from the museums not because museum is a department store, but because it holds the knowledge, the art and the rarity of human excellence. Do NOT sacrifice the museum brand to drive sales.
Are you ready to give it a go? Please share it if you feel it's useful. Until next ARTouch Insights Time! Stay safe and well.