I recently got the new iPhone 4S. One of the most interesting features of the new iPhone 4S is “Siri,” the phone’s digital assistant. Siri is pretty amazing, and I feel that she represents the “next big thing” in how people soon will find information about your arts and cultural organization.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of Siri, watch the short demo video from Apple:
All of this got me thinking: although Siri is very new (and officially still in “beta” by Apple), what capabilities does she already have for helping a patron connect with arts and culture?
Based on this, I scratched out a number of questions to ask Siri related to finding arts organizations and attending arts events. I also sent an email out to my Groupofminds mailing list, asking my subscribers to become fellow researchers and supply questions for me to ask Siri. I thought crowdsourcing the research would be a fun way to increase engagement, and also a great way to supply me with questions from specialists in many different cultural genres. In this 12-minute video, you can see me asking these questions to Siri, and can see her responses.
Don’t want to watch the whole video? I’ve summarized the findings below.
Is Siri the answer to every arts patron’s dreams? Not quite yet — she has a long way to go for that. But when she can do now is already amazing, and her abilities are getting stronger each day, due to all the people asking her questions each day. This article on Forbes.com mentions that results from a small study show that “people who use Apple’s Siri don’t really need Google.” That is a major potential shift in how we search for information.
Many organizations have spent time on SEO (Search Engine Optimization, or making sure your web pages score high on search results) on Google and Bing. And this is still an incredibly good use of your time that gives back real ROI. (Disclaimer: Groupofminds, and I personally, have done a lot of this type of work).
Consider that people on Google are searching via keywords such as “San Jose Theatre” or “Palo Alto Events.” But Siri uses whole phrases in her searches. As an example, I asked her “Siri, what is playing at the San Francisco Symphony tonight,” — she couldn’t answer that, and did a web search. The top result was a blog post that wasn’t even about the symphony. If I were a real user, I’d be frustrated.
Then I got to thinking, posts from blogs and websites with high Google ranking often get listed on Google incredibly quickly. What if I made a blog post on the groupofminds blog, with Siri phrase searching in mind for the same question? I think you’ll be excited by the results in this short video:
Holy freakin’ cow. On publishing my post, my sample San Francisco Symphony page called “Siri, show me what’s playing at the San Francisco Symphony tonight” is the #1 result on Google, and at the time of writing this post is the first thing you see when you do a Siri search with this query. Have an iPhone 4S? Try it yourself.
Not only does it work for the San Francisco Symphony, but there is so little competition for this phrase that even asking her “Siri, show me what’s playing at the symphony tonight” STILL brings back my page as the highest search result. That’s for any symphony in the world.
This represents a huge opportunity for arts marketers who want their users to find relevant Google results via a Siri voice search until Siri can answer on her own (like I currently am for this search for the San Francisco Symphony). It’s actually pretty simple — arts organizations just need to build a series of pages that are optimized for voice phrases people would ask Siri.
Yes, this means trying to figure out what phrases people will be saying to Siri to find you like I have above, along with different variations, such as “tomorrow,” “this weekend,” “over the holidays,” etc. Your Google analytics will be able to tell you if those pages get traffic. What you put on this pages should be generic enough so you don’t need to update it often, but should at least link to the correct information on whatever page it is on in your site. Considering that virtually nobody is optimizing pages in this way yet gives you an opportunity to be number one in a new search category; something that companies pay millions of dollars to reach.
I see Siri continuing to grow in both popularity and capabilities. User adoption will continue to grow: think about it — isn’t it odd that we still type letters out to say things on a computer, instead of using words? That’s like someone who is hearing-impaired just using finger spelling to communicate, instead of gestures that represent whole words. In the not-to-distant future, I’m sure Siri will speak her response back to questions on our arts and cultural events, and help patrons find their way to our box offices to purchase tickets. If we start considering the possibilities now, we can be ready for this day. Got an additional question about these experiments that I didn’t cover? Drop me a note and I’ll get back to you.
I’d like to recognize my fellow researchers for their contribution of questions to ask Siri: Kevin Kirby, Kateri McRae, Fran Spector Atkins, Doug Smith, Irene Sherr, Chelsea Maricle, Richard Hine, Paulette Lynch, Roland Valliere, Jennifer Easton, Jerry Yoshitomi, Amelia Northrup, Joe Winter, Sanford Dole, Dale Albright, Bob Cable, Mary Arnold, Laura Paisley, Matt Campbell, John Martin, Rebecca Wallace, and Joanne Bernstein.
Like this post? Please share it with others who you think might benefit from it, via the links below, and subscribe via email orRSS to receive future updates. Ron Evans is an arts marketing and consumer psychology researcher, and principal consultant at Groupofminds.com Arts Marketing Consultants in Sunnyvale, CA, USA. He helps arts audiences increase their understanding, appreciation, and frequency of attendance through innovative uses of technology.
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