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UX for Dummies

Lisa

We observe time after time that websites are not implemented optimally and that there are far too many barriers for users to utilise the websites properly and, above all, efficiently. An undeniable sign that the user experience is not optimal is a high bounce rate.
Depending on the business goal, e.g. increasing sales or generating leads, other key figures indicate whether the UX of a website is good or bad. 

Common observations:
 
- Confusing navigation
- Superficial texts
- Poor usability 
- Badly clickable buttons 
- Dead links 
- Long loading times and response time
 
Why is UX so important?
 
Nowadays, users are "flooded" with websites, apps, chatbots and digital services. Users will prefer those tools and services that meet the criteria of appealing design and ease of use. It is crucial to build functions that users are familiar with. Navigation needs to be intuitive and understandable - e.g. clicking on the logo should take the user back to the homepage.
 
Straight-forward is the way to go
The user should understand instantly what content or products are offered on the website. By including an auto-play video, the user is visually introduced to what the company or product is all about. Auto-play videos are also more likely to capture the user’s attention and help to enhance the dwell-time. 
Texts should be formulated in an easy and comprehensible way and be flawless in their readability. 
 
The menu should be easy to use 
The navigation naming should be clear and consistent. The user must recognize what it is all about at first glance. For example, in an eCommerce shop, the product groups should be clearly and comprehensibly labelled. Another good idea is the usage of “action words” like “visit” or “discover” to motivate the users to click on content. The integration of a search function enables users to find the content they are looking for quickly. 
 
 
Mobile-first
Another important aspect: flawless use on different devices. As the trend towards "mobile-first" continues, care should be taken to ensure that the user is also offered an optimal experience on a smartphone. However, the desktop version must not be neglected. 
 
It is crucial to stand out from the crowd with a beautiful and attractive design and a simple user experience. It is also vital to evaluate and adapt to user behaviour constantly. 
 

Istvan

The three most common mistakes galleries make

 

Design is not everything
Galleries often approach developing websites more conceptually which doesn’t always end up with better results.

The main issue with many gallery pages is that they put design before function and end up with overly aesthetic and highly unusable websites. Even if creating a visually appealing experience is essential, the page’s overall requirements should not be ignored. 

 

Don’t forget who you’re doing this for
Additionally, the target groups of the galleries should not be ignored. Collectors are often in the 30+ demographic group with preferences to more classical, usable solutions and less wish for experimental web design.

 

Focus on what you offer
Our speciality – and something that is often ignored (too often in our eyes) – is the focus on the knowledge that can be communicated, saved, transmitted and used in a great website implementation. Building a structured database with interconnected entries allows ways to offer the user relevant journeys throughout the site to learn more about the topic, gallery or client.

 

Elbow bumps, 

Istvan & Lisa

Clubhouse – What we’ve learned so far

Since it is the newest hype, we are following the trends around Clubhouse very closely. So, what can we tell you so far?

Istvan

Well, to start with, we can tell you that if we encounter just one more Clubhouse chat about “The Future of Art Fairs”, we might delete the app in rage. We’re tired of the inflationary usage of the same topics. So, I guess our first learning is that Clubhouse alone does not make you or your topic interesting.
Our second learning is the speciality of the format: the mixture between intimacy and a large audience can be tricky. If you ever participate in a room, you should keep in mind that you are talking in public – your quotes can be recorded and carried further even if you don’t want them to.

The next is: be honest with yourself. If you are not good or experienced in public speaking, you might not be the best speaker on Clubhouse either. In addition, if your technical knowledge of a topic is only superficial, our suggestion would be to refrain from participating on stage – things can get awkward quickly.
And lastly: if you are invited and are keen to participate, make sure to block some extra time for this in your calendar. Events tend to last longer than planned if they become interesting. Also, search for a quiet spot to be on your phone. Participants who have background noise or are distracted are difficult to listen to.

But does it get you viral? Yes and no. The number of topics is accumulating quickly on the platform. So jumping on “new” topics is getting more challenging, and competition is rising. We have experimented with formats, and the virality factor is negligible. You have to plan, announce and distribute the timing of your talk carefully if you want to make it a success (if your goal is to draw in a large audience). 

So don’t underestimate the workload. Keep in mind that it is basically another social media channel where the same rules apply: the key to success lies in planning ahead and executing in high quality.

Elbowbumps, 
Istvan

Trying new Formats for Maximum Awareness

“We have observed that Instagram Reels can achieve up to 10 times more views than organically posted feed videos.”

Lisa

You don't have to follow every trend - but trying out new formats can bring a lot of benefits. For example, Instagram Reels are no longer a novelty, but in my opinion, are still used far too rarely by companies and brands.

 

The format, which has been available in the DACH region for more than half a year now, has enormous potential. We have observed that Instagram Reels can achieve up to 10 times more views than organically posted feed videos. Instagram Reels are also pushed accordingly by Instagram: On the one hand, they can be filtered relatively quickly in their own feed through the tab. But what’s even more valuable is that they are displayed very prominently on the Instagram Explore page and are highlighted on the home screen by clicking on the Reels tab, but also by suggested reels when scrolling through the feed.

Back in 2016, Instagram challenged Snapchat with the introduction of the story format. With Reels, Instagram tried to copy TikTok last year. And rightly so: users can achieve enormous reach on TikTok! Six-figure views are not uncommon there.

But one thing still distinguishes Instagram from TikTok: Instagram (apart from the Explore page) plays content from other users to the users who follow them. TikTok, on the other hand, plays videos to users based on user behaviour – you don't have to follow anyone for that. Instagram Reels are a great extension for Instagram, but they won't be able to replace TikTok. This is also because TikTok has an entirely different target group. The content that is consumed and produced on TikTok is also still very different from Instagram. 

The appropriate formats should always be considered when producing video content. Often, feed postings for social media are only included, if at all, in classic productions. But full-screen story formats (9:16) should always be taken into account – for example, a 15-second video can be used both for organic playout in the feed and for story advertising with only minor text adjustments for paid media. 

Of course, posting a new Instagram Reel every single day is of little use in the long run, and the format may not be suitable for all brands. Because without a solid strategy, the impact will be smaller. It is also important to test new content formats and approaches and adapt the learnings in your strategy. 

 

 

Istvan

You might be wondering what this means for smaller galleries who can’t afford big or even small productions. We have good news for you! You can use the new Reels format quite effectively if you create animated clips with photography, typography and sound. 
 

Obviously, it still needs to be high quality, so ideally book an agency for this task – it is still only a fraction of video production costs.
The 15-second format is perfect for visual teasers – never underestimate the mitigating power of a clip with good short content. Ideally these clips – also due to their extensive reach – can work nicely with CTAs to direct the user’s attention to an exhibition, an OVR or a longer story. 

If you are curious about a couple of examples we did, check out our reels for LAYR or for Jahn und Jahn.
Art Basel already used their Reels heavily to promote their OVRs, and the views on them are quite impressive.

Speaking of 15-seconds of interesting content: the Rijksmuseum produces amazing clips for TikTok that are the perfect example on how to drive attention to complex topics in an environment where they have to compete for attention.

So, in short: get ‘reelin’ and let us know if we can help you with anything.

Elbow bumps, 

Lisa and Istvan

A New Fair in the Middle of a Pandemic

“One can observe a general design and conception trend emerging with the OVRs (Online Viewing Rooms) launched in heavy masses since the start of the pandemic.​​​”

Istvan

What seems to be the craziest idea just manifested in Vienna: three of the leading galleries in town took the initiative and organized a fair in the middle of a pandemic. INTERCONTI.WIEN – organized by Sophie Tappeiner, Croy Nielsen and LAYR – takes place from 28.01–07.02.2021.  Our agency was asked to support them with an integrated digital strategy so that the physical fair is integrated with a digital fair and is, therefore, Covid and cancellation safe.

One can observe a general design and conception trend emerging with the OVRs (Online Viewing Rooms) launched in heavy masses since the start of the pandemic. Two methods dominate for digital fairs: the “booth-style” approach where galleries receive their own page to present artworks or the “virtual reality” approach where 3D spaces are mimicked to generate the illusion of a gallery. 

It was essential for us that we create an accessible system for the digital visitors while maintaining the unique style of the fair resulting from its surroundings and the unorthodox approach of using vitrines for the presentation of art. 
 

This means the “virtual reality” approach was out of the question: it is not really accessible by less versatile users, and in our opinion, this kind of representation does not add to any experience on the web. Simply put: it is not the right format for browser-based usage.

We decided on a straightforward solution that is more versatile. 
With extensive video production and integrating the created content parts into the website, we want to provide a narrated and immersive experience for the digital visitors. The landing page can be consumed like a “movie” where the viewer is lead through the entire fair with a narrative, or the user can navigate to a specific section to see more of a particular exhibitor. 

In addition, simple landing pages for each gallery summarize their respective positions and offer the user a chance to inquire immediately about every artwork directly on the site.

Lisa

To create the campaign structure, we used various campaign steps based on a classic marketing-funnel approach. With general RSVP ads, we try to generate maximum awareness among the target group by linking to a specific landing page where we animate the users to subscribe to opening notifications. 
In the next step, the campaign promotes the fair’s opening day with a direct link to the landing page. 

The funnel’s final stage focuses on actually getting people to talk to the gallerist. With ads targeted to possible relevant consumers we directly link to the booking portal where digital visitors can book appointments for virtual visits with the respective gallerists.
Physical fairs mostly focus on hyperlocal ads that attract the audience to the typical booths, but for INTERCONTI.WIEN we have to work with specific interest targeting and retargeting of the previous funnel steps. 

This approach can be implemented not only for galleries and art fairs. Commercial clients can also conduct their sales talks – which they usually hold with potential customers at B2B and B2C events in person – online. 
It is not only events that can be transformed into the digital world.  Such an approach offers an entirely new opportunity for companies, especially for sales. 

Increasing awareness of a company and its products/services makes it possible to act in a classic funnel, similar to the INTERCONT.WIEN project. The target group can already experience the product digitally within the awareness phase and then book an appointment for a virtual sales meeting in the last step of the funnel. 

Hello, 2021. The Year of Your Digital Ecosystem.

What a year this was. I hope you all managed to stay healthy, and I wish you a great 2021 that will hopefully bring us an end to this pandemic that taught us so much.

 

I think it is safe to say that a sustainable digital shift happened this year. A lot of the introduced measures for digitisation are here to stay.
It is mostly the smaller, independent entities that pushed forward in this domain, while the bigger institutions are lacking drive. Look at MACRO (https://www.museomacro.it/): They managed to set themselves apart from the rest of the slow-moving crowd that still thinks successful digitisation is making a 45-minute long video of an exhibition walk.
Art Basel will probably have a hard time killing their OVR again (https://www.artbasel.com/ovr) and a lot of the blue-chip galleries push towards social media and content generating. With our involvement this year we also introduced quick pop-up online fairs like n-c and are also working on new clients (big and small) that point to an optimistic digital future.

 

So, are we done yet? Not quite. Many institutions are a long way from integrative thinking, where all the parts of the possible digital ecosystem are regarded. Strategic thinking is still grossly undervalued and unappreciated.

 

There isn’t much awareness of how vital and cost-saving good strategic planning can be. Analysing your target group can eliminate unnecessary processes in your business and save you money. Optimising the user journey through your channels to where you actually make a conversion (whether it is an inquire to a specific artwork, a product or a lead) helps you do more business.
So, maybe that extra money for strategic analysis is not such a bad idea after all – it will pay back pretty easy.

 

I hope we keep the positive digitisation trajectory for 2021 and we will be here to support you anytime.

I wish you a good and healthy holiday season and all the best for 2021!

 

Elbowbump and virtual hug,

Istvan

Can’t believe we are still fighting this

Today, we enter the third week of the second lockdown in Austria. Cultural life has again come to a halt with museums, theatres, galleries and other cultural facilities having to close. With the need for digital solutions, we offered our platform again. So, after 14 international iterations and more than 230 participating galleries, our digital art initiative returns home. not cancelled has now become n–c, but the idea behind it remains the same: to show solidarity with the art world and to support it by creating a digital infrastructure. We put the focus locally and are featuring Austrian contemporary art galleries.
So without further ado, we would like to invite you to check out the best Austria has to offer this week on 

 

n-c.art

 

What else is up?
What began in Vienna with 15 galleries once went around the world: we held digital events with galleries from Barcelona, Chicago, Dubai, Paris, Tokyo, Warsaw, among others. And we are very proud of that. We are currently transforming n-c to an initiative of cooperative solidarity to help not just in times of crisis but also when the pandemic has loosened its grip on our everyday life. We are working on building a community that tackles digitization questions.

We will reveal more about this project in the new year.

 

If you have feedback on our current issue, we are always happy to hear from you.

 

Elbowbumps,

Istvan
 

Is the future decentral?

We are delighted that curated by (https://curatedby.at/) has chosen treat to execute a full digital strategy. Which raises a good point in the vision for upcoming (art) events: is the future decentral? Curated by happens in 24 galleries simultaneously and is, as a format, pretty resistant to cancellation, since there is no central event where a lot of people gather. With efforts of digitization, we still hope to serve content to international users and to drive relevance across the target groups.

 

Are decentral events tied together with a digital frame and C02 free transport possibly the way towards the future to enable good art events? Imagine a fair spread throughout physical locations with program tie-ins online and an intense exchange of visitors and collectors through the digital space! However, selling art to a total stranger is still a hard pitch. How should art be displayed for potential buyers in a meaningful way to enable the gallerists to close a transaction? 

 

We are still figuring out possible answers and are currently working on such a solution for not cancelled – to be revealed soon.

 

In the meantime, we are thrilled to announce our cooperation of not cancelled with MADE, a Brazilian design fair, that opened yesterday!

 

MADE is our biggest iteration yet, featuring 60+ participants at once. We are very excited to see how the online event will perform and hope to support the community by providing them with a platform to drive attention to their incredible design objects & collectables. Check it out now on notcancelled.art!
 

A Birthday Blog (yes, this blog is about not cancelled, but also, a little #tbt to the last year).

Since my birthday was this week, I would like to use this opportunity to look back and reflect a little. Again, we have a lot of new subscribers, so a huge welcome to those who are new – click here to find out what you can expect in your mailbox once a month(ish).
 

not cancelled
 

The most significant effect on our agency work goes back to not cancelled. Here's what's new:

 

-    Our subscription service with Zoom integration is ready! We offer a digital space to galleries where they can invite other galleries to create joint events. It’s now possible to host Zoom meetings directly embedded into the page, creating live events amongst the artworks. This is specifically practical for those whose collectors are unable to travel to the physical space.
-    We are planning to roll out another big wave of cities in the coming weeks, so follow us on Instagram (@notcancelled.art) to stay in the loop for when they launch.
-    We developed a digital art fair version and are happy to provide you with your own customised and unbranded version of our system. Shoot me an email, if that sounds like something you want to do.  ;)

 

Overall not cancelled is a great success and we are entering a maturity phase with the cities editions. With 11 iterations so far and over 110 registered galleries uploading thousands of artworks, our system proves to be scalable.
We are reaching a global audience. Our top ten traffic-driving countries are the U.S.A., Germany, Austria, France, Netherlands, the U.K., Switzerland, Poland, Italy and the UAE. We count over 22 thousand unique visitors and more than 34 thousand sessions, reaching an incredible duration of 3 Minutes average! We’re also happy to say that it’s not just traffic but also a good amount of sales happening via the platform.
We hope our contributions have helped support galleries with reach, sales and exposure. We couldn’t be more proud of this project.

 

1 year of treat.agency

 

Incredible but true: we have rebranded just a little bit over a year ago (see here why).

Well, two steps forward one step back. Since then, we are more focused, professional and prepared than ever, and are proud to have acquired a large number of great new clients. 

 

1 year of success

 

And for the future? Many say post-corona will not be the same. But I can’t help myself but have an optimistic outlook on the future. I hope we can take away the best of what we learn in this pandemic and use it to create a better tomorrow. From our perspective, that would be a more inclusive, democratic accessible and sustainable art world.


While I do understand the sudden “online fatigue” with being overwhelmed by online happenings, I don’t agree: Just because you get a lot of invites doesn’t mean you have to go to all of them. I think it is funny that people criticise “too much” happening online while IRL only a few have an issue with Biennials, Art Basels, Manifestas, Gallery Weekends all opening in crazy quick successions. Everybody shows up to the remotest cities, spends money on a travel budget and leaves a huge economic footprint. This excludes a lot of people who don’t have the means to be a glamourous & arty globetrotter. Digitalisation gives us a great opportunity to make the art world a more accessible space. 
Maybe the online fatigue is also just because these fairs, online viewing rooms and other events are just not that good in terms of usability, functionality, overall experience or content, since they are still in their early days?
I think we are only at the beginning of our “online journey”. And the place it takes us is a more interesting one, getting better each day – and we are so happy to contribute to this. 

And then we were not cancelled

Most of you are new to this list. So, hi! Let me welcome you and give you a quick outlook of what you can expect in my future newsletters. Each month, I provide insights to either digitalization in general or more specifically digitalization in the art world. My agency, treat, deals with issues around these topics and I blog and send out our experiences, insights, views, and opinions. Sometimes I add a hint of entrepreneur experiences to spice it up a little. 
In the coming months, I’ll probably blog a lot about not cancelled, since we have big plans ;-)

And this month is, for obvious reasons, all about not cancelled: what started out as a quick reaction to a devastating crisis to help our immediate friends, started a life of its own.

Initially, the platform was created within just a couple of days, in order to provide an online space for galleries to jointly exhibit since their physical spaces had to shut down.
We intended to invite 10 galleries from Vienna to be able to handle the data, and ended up with 15 very quickly (it became a tiny bit stressful).
So without further ado, here are a couple of insights into our thinking process:

Why cities?
Limiting an online exhibition to a geographical location might seem a bit controversial, but it yields potential: positions within the same city can reflect on their locality, and it allows for new discourses.
One of the primary purposes of online activities is to embed context. And next to “real” curating – which simply is not possible on such short notice – the geographical limitation seemed a great idea.

Talking about contextualization
The idea to synergize efforts to form a joint program is key to the concept of not cancelled. It is vital to add a frame to the entire event in order to intrigue and drive traffic. We see this confirmed in our iterations: the stronger the content in the program, the more returning visitors. This is why context and curation play a significant role.

Medium specificity
So why did we choose the look of the grid? Well, it is the representation that gives a medium-specific (internet) advantage to such an undertaking: you never have the chance to see the different positions in dialogue with each other so easily, since the works are usually separated through physical space. Using the Instagram style layout sets us apart: it proves we have a deeper understanding than just thinking in “booths”. ;-)

Finally: why do I reveal all of this?
Sharing is caring. ;) I hope our insights can help anyone in the current situation, or in the long run, to build better and more sustainable digital experiences. Also, our source of ideas is endless – if you need digital advice, we are always here with more.

Not cancelled is currently running in series (and we are happy to discuss if you would like to launch in your city or area if it hasn’t been covered yet) – next up is Warsaw and then Paris. The not cancelled Salon is open right now, it’s a non-for-profit initiative highlighting 17 independent artists and their work where all profit goes back to the artists, and all sales are handled directly by them. 
We are also working on an “event” version to allow galleries to create meaningful digital events in the coming months where they won’t have the ability to host a lot of people in a physical space. 

Stay safe & stay tuned,

Istvan

Please, rethink!

I had planned a different post about the need for more women in digitalization – but will post that another time. 

 

Being grounded here in Vienna and with the closure of all public institutions, I have only one remark: digitalization would pay off right now!

 

What I mean is the fact that most cultural institutions are asking themselves, “How should we generate income if no one can leave the house?” 
How will you hold your talks, plays, discussions, lectures, exhibitions, etc. in the coming weeks? The answer would be: digitally. 

 

Digital distribution of knowledge production would offer the chances to have channels that work remotely, without a physical presence, and allow you to continue the discussion and planned program.

 

It is time that resources are invested in this, and here is a short list to reiterate why.

 

With a good digital knowledge distribution program:

-    You save on CO2 by reducing the physical visitors while actually increasing your overall audience
-    You create more inclusive and barrier-free opportunities
-    You create possibilities for audiences of a larger geographical area to participate hence strengthening your diversity in discussion
-    You are more flexible in times of forced closure to run programs
-    You open up monetization options on the long term

 

Time to take action now!

 

(And also: wash your hands, stay home and safe <3)

Missing: The role of digital transformation in making the “art-world” more CO2 neutral

It seems that the discussion about the impact of the art world on the climate crisis is finally here. Just like “Welt am Sonntag” in its latest issue (Nr. 2, January 12th 2020, or this frieze article), major papers and their respective feuilletons pick up the topic to dis(s)-cuss art world players extreme flying behaviour and the culture of the globalised art world.

 

So finally, there is some movement in the game here. And yes, it is good to show how bad things are, but what I miss is a general discussion about the tools and solutions provided by digitalisation in 2020. Digitalisation would not just help reduce the carbon dioxide emissions, but also take a massive step towards democratising the art world.

 

The link between the topics of digitalisation and the ability to reduce CO2 impact is often missed in discussions. Ever growing blockbuster art shows lead to ever more visitors (with the visitor numbers being the holy grail of museum existence), more shipping of artworks, and C02 emissions by art world clientele that travels there. There needs to be a change in leadership as well as in goal setting, and some players are realising this. So why not use digital transformation as a way to enhance your reach and audience (even if not by physical visitors)? Physical presence is not everything. I understand that the art world has, historically speaking, intrinsic aspects of pilgrimage, social encounters and global networking. But isn’t digitalisation just another way to do just that?

 

Perhaps it is the lack of technical knowledge that leads to the missing key, maybe it is the lack of vision, but precise digitalisation strategies could potentially be the best of both worlds! And yes, you might want to host on server farms that are using renewable energy sources (https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/sustainability/) but also do ask critical questions about data and CO2-emissions. (My next blog topic?)

 

I am yet to see well-executed integrative thinking that does not regard “online” solely as a tool to communicate opening times or marketing efforts. It has the potential to be so much more!

 

There are huge opportunities missed, even by players that you would expect to have at least some sort of digital knowledge. Like, how on earth are panels about “Climate change denial” held by people flown-in to the event and not executed via live stream?

Facts you always wanted to know about millenials

Hey, hey! This blog reaches you with a little delay, as we have all been busy like the screen of our landing page with the pretty snowflakes. Nevertheless, I thought of sharing some insights I recently gained while following up on research done for a pitch. 

 

Basically, it comes down to this:
Do you want to communicate with millennials? I hope you already did so, but if not, then it’s definitely time to delete all excel columns for classical ads in your ad_budget_planning.xlsx and get yourself a brand new one for content_marketing_plans.xlsx!

 

Depending on if you want to see the glass half full or half empty, TV consumptions did not stop yet[1], with 45% of Austrian viewers still enjoying “linear TV”. But even then we – hey, I am a millennial too – do not buy the brand message that is communicated solely in the classical sense. We would rather experience relevant content that builds a valuable relationship with a brand – or with an art institution. You read correctly: this thinking needs to find its ways toward museums! I am not indicating every museum needs to communicate with millennials, but creating the content (properly) will be crucial if you want to communicate with future generations (currently 35 and under). They already are a huge well-funded target group that is interested in arts and culture, as well as being digitally savvy – what more can you wish for?

 

If you work for art institution, the good news is: any museum, foundation or gallery is the original content producer, historically speaking. They have been putting out relevant content all these years. But we need deeper stuff than just the regular mention of your talk series or your exhibition openings. It is time to shake up the “marketing” department and finally see that this content needs to be THE thing you have to communicate. 

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Not Start Your Own Agency

Summer is over, and almost every year at this time we have a couple of strange months where the weather is bad, money is short, the workload daunting and I am left asking myself: WHY did I think this was a good idea?
So, I decided it’s time to show the true colors of building and running a small agency and why you should not quit your 9-5.

 

1 You seem rich but you ain’t liquid
You usually go from rich to broke within weeks. Though you swear to set aside something from the next big project, even if you do – since you are an entrepreneur at heart – you use it for investments. So, two weeks of no payment and you can’t even pay for dinner.

 

2 More employees do not save you
It always seems that with hiring the next employee workload will be manageable, and you will have less pressure. Instead, you just run up your monthly costs and jobs are still either too few, too small or too many and too big for the team. Simply put: It will never seem quite right.

 

3 Taxes
I love to pay taxes. It makes the social system in Austria work, and that’s great and necessary. But be aware: taxes can be tricky since a lot of them don’t look at what you actually make but are based on assumptions on what you could make. So sometimes you have to pay way more than you can actually afford (see section 1 – you’ll never have enough savings). 

 

4 The project cycle
Agencies depend on project-based work, which is way more complicated than working with an actual physical product. After each project ends, you have to start from scratch: first finding a new possible project (see next point) and then becoming acquainted with it. 
This is also a financial issue: there is always a big gap between start and actual payment.

 

5 Pitches
I understand pitches from a client’s perspective – for them, they are practical, efficient and will give an excellent overview of a pool of ideas they can just point at and say: “I want this one.” But to survive as an agency, you have to pitch which brings you into the situation that you have to work very hard for no money, pretty intensely, on stuff that only in a small percentage will ever pay off. In that regard, pitches are a huge inconvenience. If you want to keep your project cycle short, it means pitching while you are still actually working on other projects, doubling (tripling, quadrupling – you get what I’m saying?) the workload. Not to even mention that pitching for public projects is so complicated and time-consuming that I could dedicate a whole blog entry to it.

 

I could for sure go on. Like the fact that your maximum vacation time is one afternoon where you manage to not touch a work device or write that quick e-mail or respond to a question on Slack, etc. However, I only announced 5 reasons, so consider yourself lucky.  
But I, of course, have to say I don’t regret a thing about starting my agency.  The best is the ability to build your own working environment, with a team that you can treat (hehehe) as family or friends.
I would say though, if you have a well-paying 9-5, specifically in Austria where nobody bothers you in your legally free time – I envy you.

Maximize Your Social Media Presence in 10 Easy Steps – The Ultimate Summer Guide for Small Entities with Big Plans ;)

So, you run a small project space or gallery, want to grow your social media presence and have no budget to pay for (our) services? No worries – treat to the rescue! Here is a list of 10 easy steps on how to professionalize your social media presence: 

 

1.    Write a strategy
While creating a large-scale strategy might sound scary (and it is a hell of work), if you are small, you can keep it small. Yes, but what exactly is the correct strategy, you might ask. Well, it should include whom you want to talk to (audience or target groups) and what you want to talk about (what are the core topics of your space/gallery?). It’s also important that you define ONE goal (for example, how many followers you want to gain) and make it a measurable one.


2.    Chose the right channels
You do NOT have to be on every social media outlet there is. Actually, you are not obliged to have any social media! The only important thing is that you look at your strategy and try to understand where you will find your audience. If you have limited resources, it’s better to do fewer channels. Google usage statistics and general audience descriptions. Try to get a sense for the channels by using them for a couple of weeks before you invest work in developing them. Choose not just based on your target audience but also based upon the used media that fits your proposed topic. Do you need more moving image? Short clips? Longer clips? 


3.    Write stuff
Creating content is, of course, the core of content-based marketing such as social media, so this is important. In one of my recent blog posts, I already emphasized the importance of good copy, so what I suggest is that you write a story. Ideally, this reflects your strategy and the topics you want to cover based on that strategy. This story then can be adapted to your target groups‘ communication needs and habits, if you wish. If you can, write multiple chapters based on various „storylines.“


4.    Plan
Planning is essential. You can be reactionary on your channels, but that is no way into achieving your goals in a controlled manner. It is actually pretty easy: set up an excel sheet and make entries for the days you want to publish content.
Ideally, just split what you have written so far and divide it over a fixed period of time (like a month). If you have multiple chapters, mix and match if you want. And boom – you have a content plan!


5.    Produce stuff
With your plan and texts at hand, go ahead, and create media! If you have a good (i)Phone, don’t be afraid to use it to produce videos. 9:16 is the new 16:9 anyway. If you have a little budget, maybe get accessories for your phone like a stabilizer, a gimbal or other video equipment. 


6.    Let go
I see many people freaking out trying to post everything in real time. In reality, nobody cares. Before you compromise on quality (see the next two points) to post something instantly as it is happening, just take a breather, sit this one out or do it later – but properly.


7.    Don’t post bullshit
“The internet” can be a very unforgiving place. Make sure you do not post anything that has errors, typos, etc. While it is ok that some minor mistakes might happen, take the time to have everything proofread or at least try to read it backward (a technique to try to identify errors). Try to establish punctuation rules and even if they might not be Oxford English at least follow your own rules. Fact checking your story, if it has any data included, is vital. And do not rely on the first thing you found when googling.


8.    Don’t post broken stuff
Content that doesn’t work on a technical level turns people off very quickly and makes your content impossible to consume. So, refrain from using formats if you are not (yet) able to produce them properly – keep it low key, my friend. Be particularly careful with the audio when you are doing video content. Bad sound destroys any experience. Also, do not rotate your camera while recording.


9.    Cooperate
If you are small, it is hard to use technologies and methods like the bigger players, especially if you want to use paid media or bloggers. So, my suggestion is to get together with kindred spirits of your field of work (like fellow galleries, other project spaces, etc.) and plan activities together. You can build fan bases easier and feed into each other. Joint paid media promotions can be extremely fruitful, but I suggest you get professional help before investing real money on the ad portals of various social media.


10.    Take part in the discussion
It’s helpful if you take the “social” in social media literally. One of the most critical channels for growth (if that’s your goal) is to partake in relevant discussion, to be present with comments on relevant postings and threads. It gives you great exposure and people the opportunity to discover your channel.

 

I hope this list helps you with elevating your presence. I was thinking of offering a small group workshop for small galleries and project spaces, so if you’re interested in an introductory four-hour workshop: hit me up. 

What is the Future of Knowledge Transformation?

Cultural institutions need to amplify their role in online content creation.
While there is a strong movement for institutions to be present on various online channels (especially social media), more significant steps are needed to establish them with a global impact.
The internet presents a massive opportunity for anyone to create and publish content. However, only a few knowledge transfer institutions manage to do so with a high reach.
If academics are wondering what to do against the mass of poorly researched - or made up – content, then using their skills and knowledge combined with the technical possibilities of today’s content distribution online might be a great step forward as it holds excellent opportunities.
I would argue that the current trend to mistrust “the media” presents an important opportunity for institutions to rise as the source of credible content. This is specifically true for smaller, lesser-known knowledge institutions, like museums, universities or art foundations. 

Multiple factors might help to fuel this transformation:

Establish Digital Reach as a Core Number
If institutions put the sole focus on “traditional” KPIs such as visitor numbers, they reduce the role of digital communication to merely a marketing instrument and disregard the opportunities these channels pose for knowledge transformation and education. 
A person educated about the content of an exhibition/program in any form online has the same value as a physical visitor. 
This fact should be reflected by establishing the online reach of unique visitors into the core reporting and goals of the institution.

Resources for Digital Should be Integrated into the Program
Integrating online communications into the (curatorial) program opens a different view on digital content creation and enables the access of varying budget methods.
Presenting content online can be easily intertwined with an exhibition on-site. For an example on how this can be implemented, check out https://art.treat.agency/detail/hdgoe.

Open up to a Sponsor
Plenty of brands are looking for content creation and possibilities that give them a chance to position themselves near a cultural/academic level. By including a brand into the content creation, both parties can profit from each other: the brand becomes an integrative part of a meaningful project, and the institution finds a partner that enhances their online reach and can pitch for a bigger budget.

Get a Partner and Let Go
I have seen a lot of resistance when it comes to including digital communication experts (or agencies), especially from (old-school) curators. Their main argument is the questionable reputation of the medium. But that depends what you do with it and is not defined by itself. A partner – yes, just like us – can help you maintain the integrity and build up your reach. Every institution’s goal is to communicate their program to the largest proportion of the target audience. So, our goals do match.

Why Your First Employee Should be a Copywriter

Many people I meet often don’t understand the importance of a copywriter. 
A possible reason might be a topic which keeps bubbling up – that the internet killed “reading.”  

 

So even though I secretly hope that most people will find this blog entry of mine not very new, I’d like to provide an answer to those, who are yet to understand why it is essential to pay for good copy. 

 

With the rise of social media and all the wilderness once called “viral videos,” there is still this (mis-)conception in a lot of (marketing) people’s heads, that all you need to do is produce glossy, catchy, and breathtaking content (aka videos) and all will be fine.


However, this is simplifying a task that needs much more consideration. Such an approach leads to clients thinking that they can save money by doing the copy themselves. 

 

The fact that great content is based on more than a good video is slowly spreading. 
In addition to high-quality video production, the content needs to be strategically crafted from the beginning. Nothing is more relevant to the content than a good story – which is formulated with good copy. You can have ever so many strategic thinkers at the table, but if you are not able to formulate their ideas into precise language, your genius strategy will fall flat.

 

In the beginning phase of our company, we have struggled with this a lot. We were rooted in programming, and it was a journey to discover that the most hindering factor to our creative success was the absence of a good copywriter.

 

We’ve had one on board for a while now (hey Karim and now Naa Teki) and it made a huge impact on quality. 

 

I still have to explain why this position needs to be financed in projects and how much work text is. Interestingly, in our experience, it is mostly the clients in art + knowledge who are very hesitant about budgeting for something they think they don’t need. Because they are very invested in their own text production, they believe it is done well. What needs to be explained the most is that a lot of text work still needs to be optimized. Not because it is bad, but because the text is for a different use. 

 

So, if you are just starting your business and want a hot tip: your first hire should be a copywriter.

Time for a Change, or why we Rebranded

I founded the agency in 2012, after years of freelancing madness. I think I’ve literally worked for every ad agency in Vienna. As soon as I had the money to put up the necessary capital for the company formation, I went for it.

Since then, I can proudly say – even if sometimes I wish I would have a “simple” 9-5 job – that we have grown (sometimes slower, sometimes faster) into a fun and dynamic team which ultimately is the company.

With time – and with the constant push of our stimulating and intellectual clients – we have started to implement more serious topics. Despite being a small team, gender equality, language usage, strategic vision, and work quality are discussed and deployed.

So even though we still believe in the force of the creative, handcrafted solutions we have always offered, we moved away from the “Manufaktur” and are growing into a more mature company with all the above themes integrated into our DNA as we expand even further.

The beginning of this year was an ideal starting point to redefine our strategy and to set new targets for 2019 and 2020. 

We clarified our strategy and set achivable goals working on our geographical diversification within the German and American markets.

This results in splitting into four distinct “working units” or divisions, called:

 

treat – art + knowledge
treat – products, apps + services
treat – commercial clients + campaigns
treat – sport sponsoring digital

 

Each division has its focus and can thus deliver a more precise and bespoke service to our clients.

After all this strategic work, it became clear: we are not the same company anymore. 

So, the decision was obvious: We have to redefine our company and communicate this to the outside world. 

We have so many intricate assignments and are dealing with complex topics that we needed a playful and versatile branding. After several brainstorming sessions, the name was born:

 

treat

 

With this new name and look, and an additional focus on specific aspects within our four divisions, we want to provide a clear picture to our future clients with services tailored to individual needs.

We hope you like what we came up with and I am always thankful for feedback.

 

Istvan