Going into our second year of 1stfans, Shelley and I wanted to do a survey to see how members felt about the first year of the program. We knew that we’d hear a variety of responses based on how people used their membership, but we were determined to see if we could identify any trends that we could use to make changes to the program. Below are a few things we learned from the 35 folks that responded to the open-ended survey we sent a couple weeks ago, as well as two changes that we’re definitely going to make for year two of 1stfans.
The most positive thing we heard from the survey was that people enjoy 1stfans as an idea. Whether that sentiment followed several sentences about taking part in the meetups and interacting online, or whether it came as a consolation. Erin from Texas wrote, “I don’t know how useful my feedback will be – since I became a member primarily because I think what you’re doing rocks – and not because I expected to take advantage of the benefits (as I live more than 1000 miles from the Museum).”
It seems like many 1stfans joined to demonstrate their gratitude that a Museum had created a membership program that was catered to how they interact with museums today. On the other end of the geographic spectrum, one local wrote, “Already a museum member, I joined 1stfans because I love that my local art institution is so forward thinking about the concept of a virtual membership and I have definitely gotten my $20 worth.” One person who wasn’t entirely pleased with their experience wrote, “I don’t think I’ve gotten what I thought I would out of my $20 membership fee so far, although I’m not so sure exactly what I was expecting. I am glad to support the museum nonetheless.”
We heard a variety of feedback about our meetups at Target First Saturday. Most enjoyed them, although some thought they were too early in the evening, while others thought they were just the right time and length to allow them to participate in the other events. For those that came regularly, the in-person aspect of the membership is what they appreciated, not the online benefits. Mike wrote, “While I never made use of the electronic networking opportunities (blogs, twitter, facebook, etc.), I enjoyed interacting with others at the events and thought that the event composition was great. It was fun to hear about both the creative and technical aspects of art and the museum.”
The “action item” that came out of the feedback from the meetups concerned bringing guests. Most didn’t come alone, and felt bad making their friends sign up for 1stfans if they knew they probably wouldn’t be back to First Saturday anytime soon. Chris brought up a good point, writing, “…if each member can bring a guest to a 1st Fans Meetup, then you would have an excellent chance of dramatically increasing your membership, since it’s hard to get a good idea of what 1st Fans Meetups are all about without actually attending one.” So from now on, we’ll allow one guest to attend 1stfans meetups at select First Saturday events. We’ll announce in the invite whether guests will be allowed.
We found that communication was something a lot of people talked about. That makes sense intuitively, given that communication in 1stfans is a la carte and based on how many of the social networks you are on. If you’re on facebook, twitter, and flickr frequently, you’ll probably get most of what we put out there. Three folks mentioned the Twitter Art Feed as being confusing or out of context. One person wrote, “I’ve had a hard time getting regular twitter updates. It seems like I’m always missing them and forget to check back, so I don’t always catch them.” Another wrote, “Because I am an on again off again twitter user, I would love an email every time there is a new artist with a short bio and a description of the project to remind me to check my twitter.” Most people recognize that they won’t love every Twitter Art Feed project, but it’s still our responsibility to ensure that the word gets out.
Since we also heard from a couple folks about receiving emails (in addition to facebook, flickr, and twitter invites), the other big thing we’re going to work on in year two of 1stfans is putting together some sort of short newsletter so everyone can have a consolidated version of what is happening coming directly to them in one place. That should help out those who think we aren’t communicating as well as we could be, and it also won’t add a lot more work on our end. By increasing our level of communication with 1stfan members and allowing them to give their friends some access to 1stfans programming, we’re hoping to increase 1stfans participation and awareness of what’s going on, as well as and expose 1stfans as a concept to a wider audience.
We’ve always said that 1stfans is about growing a relationship with the Museum, and we’re determined to have 1stfans play just as large a role in shaping the future of the program. We’re grateful to everyone who responded to the survey, and we’re happy to take any more feedback either in the comments or below or by e-mailing me directly.
Will Cary was the Brooklyn Museum's Membership Manager from January 2008 to May 2010. In addition to making sure all Brooklyn Museum Members got the most out of their Membership, he also developed the 1stfans Membership program in order to grow the Museum’s community of supporters. Before joining the Brooklyn Museum in January 2008, Will worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Will graduated from Williams College with a degree in Art History and Economics. Will now works in Membership at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine.