Social media behaviour

March 2023

Cultural Participation Monitor Wave 8 | Spring 2023

This research is from The Audience Agency's nationwide longitudinal (ongoing) panel survey of changing views about participating in creative and cultural activities through the recent and ongoing crises, and beyond, the Cultural Participation Monitor.



More than 1/3 people say they follow an 'arts and culture' organisation on social media, though report being more inclined to do so out of interest in the broad topic or artform, than in that specific organisation and its events.


  • Just over a third of people (37%) said they follow an arts or cultural organisation on social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc.)
  • However, it is worth noting that people are likely to a) over-report and b) use a relatively broad definition of ‘arts and culture’.
  • These respondents were, unsurprisingly, more likely to be female, urban (esp. London), under 45 (inc. 67% of 20-24s) and with children under 10.
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Figure 1. Likelihood of following cultural/art organisations by demographic groups.


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Figure 2. Reason for following these social media accounts by Audience Spectrum group.

We offered a range of reasons that people might follow these accounts, of which the most popular responses were:

  • ‘general interest in the topic’ (60%).
  • and ‘entertainment’(57%).

Breaking down people's other reasons for following, we found that:

  • These general topic interests were notably higher than ‘interest in the specific organisation/its work’ (45%), a useful reminder that people’s interest is first and foremost in the topic or art form, rather than in individual organisations, and content should be focused accordingly.
  • Information about events (whether in person or online) was selected by a similar proportion (41% and 40%),
  • but many fewer were looking for more specific information (‘opening times, directions etc’) (25%) or ‘to find things to buy (19%).
  • Following was motivated though by a desire to show support for an organisation in many cases (38%).

When asked for their ‘main’ reason, the picture was even clearer:

Figure 3. Main reasons for following social media accounts, cf. all reasons.
Figure 3. Main reasons for following social media accounts, cf. all reasons.
  • Almost a third said ‘general interest in the topic’ (32%),
  • a fifth ‘entertainment’ (20%),
  • and similar for ‘information about events to attend in person’ (19%).
  • No other option was selected by more than one in ten.

Breaking that down by demographic characteristics, we found that:

  • Those who had a ‘general interest in the topic’ as their main reason were less likely to have children under 10 (who had a more practical focus overall),
  • those who chose ‘entertainment’ were younger (e.g. 30% of 16-24s),
  • and those who chose ‘information about events’ were more likely to be 25 and over (being only 14% of 16-24s).
A chart showing reasons for following social media accounts split by age, suggesting those aged 16-24 are much more likely to follow accounts for entertainment or to show support, compared to older groups.
Figure 4. Reasons for following social media accounts, split by age.
  • Given the different demographics of social media platforms (see page 24) this may indicate ways to tailor content to each platform.