The impact of review sites for arts and culture organizations
While cultivating traditional media coverage is an important piece of your overall communications campaign, you can also attract new audiences by encouraging visitor reviews on established review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. An overlooked avenue for potential visitors since the mid-2000’s, a recent Social Media Today article warns that less than 32% of listed organizations on review sites actively manage their presence.
The impact of review sites for restaurants and hotels is better established and is the focus of most research studies; the connection for arts and culture organizations requires a little digging or is implied within a larger arts and entertainment category. Seven percent of Yelp’s reviews, for example, are in a catchall “Arts, Entertainment and Events” category—but, as Yelp Philadelphia community director Michelle Cassidypoints out, that’s equivalent to almost 4 million total reviews on the site.
More important than the number of listings in an arts and culture-related category is the type of audience you have the potential to reach on review sites. Statistics from Yelp report the majority of its users are college educated (57.6%) and are more evenly divided between general age and income brackets. Notably, 35% of these users search for arts and entertainment activities; in comparison, 42% search Yelp for hotel and travel purchases, and 78% search Yelp when selecting a restaurant. 44%of TripAdvisor users will reference a review before choosing an attraction, the most relevant listing for arts and culture organizations.
Popular and traditional arts and culture destinations rank at the top of Philadelphia listings on Yelp and TripAdvisor thanks to reviews written by visitors from New York to California. The “Best of Yelp” for Philadelphia under the Arts and Entertainment category includes Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, Union Transfer, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Mutter Museum, each attracting hundreds of reviews. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation, Eastern State Penitentiary, National Museum of American Jewish History and Citizens Bank Park represent the top rated Philadelphia attractions on TripAdvisor, with thousands of reviews to back them up.
Recommended best practices for arts and culture organizations on review sites follow the guidelines in place for organizations and businesses in general:
1. Claim your account.
2. Complete your profile.
3. Respond to reviews.
4. Monitor your traffic.
5. Promote your presence on review sites to ticket-buyers or visitors.
“I always encourage business owners or managers, regardless of their type of business, to claim their listing on Yelp at biz.yelp.com,” Cassidy said. “It’s free to do and gives access to things like traffic, profile completion, and the ability to respond to reviews.”
While art critics and reporters provide the benefit of informed and trusted reviews when covering your arts organization from an objective perspective, monitoring your profile on rating websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor meets target audiences where they are. Paying attention to consumer reviews collecting on these sites is a worthwhile addition to your communications approach.
by Rachel Olenick
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