The Digital Engagement Framework is a set of questions that help organisations come up with a sustainable and consistent digital strategy. The framework, which we developed together with Jim from Sumo, structures the thinking about what you’ll do with digital media, how you will implement it and especially why you will use digital media in the first place. We’ve been creating the tool behind closed doors, finetuning it together with clients, in discussions with experts and through comments on our blogs.

Two weeks ago at MuseumNext we ran the first public (short) Digital Engagement Framework workshop, aptly named “a crash course in digital strategy”. In only two hours and together with 50+ participants we went through the framework. The objective was to start the strategic thinking among the participants, but also to come up with tangible, hands-on digital activities. I’ll use of of these, an app to make your stay in hotels more artistically pleasing, to introduce the DEF and explain its primary elements.

Digital Engagement Framework

The Digital Engagement Framework (above) can be divided in three parts: why, what and how (see figure below). These three parts are about three different levels of your digital strategy: the strategy itself, activities that engage and reach out to audiences, and your day-to-day operational planning.

Why, what and how in the DEF

Why? Every successful digital strategy starts with answering the why-question. Why are you on Facebook or do you invest in a mobile app? You do so, because it will help you organisation achieve its mission. Therefore the DEF starts by asking after your organisation’s digital ambition, goals and values. These may or may not be stated in official documents (like the mission statement) of your organisation. They are essential to knowing what to do next, measuring success and motivating your team, just to name a few of the reasons why every digital strategy process should start with “why”.

What? When you know where you want to go, the next step is to determine the digital activities that might get you there. This is the what-question (“what will you do?”) and comprises two organisation-driven elements (your assets and audience) and two action-driven elements (engagement and outreach). Together these four form the bulk of the DEF and the scaffolding for your digital engagement strategy. The trick in this second part of the DEF is to design activities that reach (first) and engage (second) a particular target audience with a particular asset of your organisation, for instance by providing an artistic hotel app (about which more later).

How? Finally, the how-question helps you determine how to make the activities happen. In this third and final part of the DEF you look at platforms, content and the link between the two. Your audience determines your platforms and content is broadly speaking the digital representation of your assets. All this together helps you come up with an actionable planning for your digital strategies that will make your ambition come true.

So, what about the artistic hotel app?

In the MuseumNext workshop one of the groups (pretending to be a museum) determined that their ambition was to have their audiences ‘interact and live with their content’ using values such as ‘generous’, ‘accessible’ and ‘engaging’. Two hours was too short to determine specific goals, but you can imagine objectives such as reaching more and different target groups.

From a wide range of assets and audiences, the group decided to connect ‘cultural tourists’ (from out of town) with a top collection of paintings. The target group was not one of the natural target groups of the organisation and therefore cannot be reached on any of the museum’s traditional platforms (the essential difference between outreach and engagement). The question then becomes: where can these people be reached? And the group came up with a very original answer: in their hotel rooms.

Most hotel rooms in the world are decorated with artworks (you might not have noticed, but the photos of industrial architecture and dull views of the sea are art). With the possibilities of AR at the moment these artworks – however – might be replaced with tastier artworks from the collections of any museum participating in a special app (similarly to this take over of the Rijksmuseum, see video below). Imagine having a Goya over your bed or De Kooning in your bathroom!

With the right promotion (flyers in hotel rooms, etc.) such an app could reach a specific audience and trigger them to view the original in any of the participating institutions, which – of course – are all in the same city as the hotel and have a nice route description in the app. It’s not rocket science, but it could really reach out to new target groups.

The Digital Engagement Framework helps organisations come up with a solid digital strategy by addressing the three elements of the framework. In a full workshop (2 days) organisations can set up a full strategy that is both realistic and ambitious from scratch. We’ll be running quite some of these workshops with Jim in the coming months, and if you’re interested in having one in your organisation, please contact me to talk about the possibilities.

We’ll also continue blogging about the DEF, as we have done, and keep on improving the framework. If you have any feedback, please let us know! Thanks in advance.