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communications Archives - Engaging Museums by Dana Allen-Greil

Illustrative examples of art museums interacting via social media

January 17, 2013 | By | No Comments

Image credit: Rutgers University, Online Mini-MBA™: Social Media for the Arts

I’m starting to collect some illustrative examples (via Storify) of the many ways that art museums are attempting to interact, educate, and inspire their audiences via social media. My goal is to document a representative sample of platforms, formats, content types, tone, and style. I have only begun to scratch the surface and am hoping to hear from you:

What’s the difference between social media and social marketing?

February 24, 2012 | By | No Comments

This post was originally published on the Social Marketing exCHANGE blog.

Last week, Ogilvy launched Social@Ogilvy, a global, cross-discipline team of social experts from across all of Ogilvy’s businesses delivering social solutions. Social media is changing our clients’ businesses and we have been quietly building the largest social media marketing communications network in the world.

This exciting news has sparked some discussion and questions about terminology: what’s the difference between social media (or “social media marketing”) and social marketing? This is not a new dialogue—confusion has been brewing ever since the breakthrough of social media and its subsequent impact on marketing, communications, and many other disciplines.

[ul style=”12″] [li]Marketing through social media involves having conversations and creating engagement online through a variety of social media tools, such as blogs, wikis, online communities, community websites, video, photos, and social networking platforms. The term “social media” was first used within the past decade [/li] [li]Social marketing is a discipline that attempts to change awareness, attitudes, and behaviors as they are related to advancing social causes. Since its introduction in 1971, social marketing has been used to address many of the world’s most pressing issues, from public health to public safety to environmentalism. Methods include community outreach, direct mail, advertising, media relations, partnership development, events, interpersonal outreach, materials dissemination . . . and social media.[/li] [/ul]

Indeed, in today’s communications environment social media has an important and critical role to play in social marketing initiatives. Good social marketing campaigns contain social media tactics that are based—as the rest of the campaign elements are—on research-derived insights into the campaign’s intended audience. For more on the potential benefits of social media to social marketing initiatives, see this blog post from Executive Vice President and Group Director Jennifer Wayman and many other posts on the Social Marketing exCHANGE blog about the intersections and application of social media to social marketing.


The Heart Truth: Using Social Media to Reach and Motivate Women to Address Risk Factors for Heart Disease

February 16, 2012 | By | No Comments

This poster presentation was co-authored with Megan Yarmuth, Jennifer Wayman, Sarah Temple, Ann Taubenheim, Ph.D., for the Digital Health Communications (DHCX) conference in February 2012.

To educate women about heart disease and prompt action against key risk factors by empowering women to spread The Heart Truth® via social media tools.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) launched a national social marketing campaign—The Heart Truth®—in 2002 to increase women’s awareness of their #1 killer and prompt them to take action to reduce their risk.

In 2007, The Heart Truth® campaign began to utilize social media to disseminate messages, foster online community,
and promote events and resources to reach and motivate women to lower their personal risk for heart disease. Each year, social media efforts have been expanded to include new channels and tactics in support of the NHLBI campaign and key events such as National Wear Red Day® and the Red Dress Collection Fashion Show.

Conversations with Visitors: Social Media and Museums

January 13, 2012 | By | No Comments

Authored two chapters: “Measuring, Analysing and Reporting” and “Case Study: National Museum of American History.”

In its 360 pages, Conversations with Visitors shares the experience of some of the world’s leading international thinkers and doers in the field of social media and museums. Together, these essays provide sound, practice-based advice on communicating with, involving, challenging, and analysing museum visitors (and non-visitors) through the use of many different types and styles of social media.

Social Media and Organizational Change

March 26, 2011 | By | No Comments

This paper was originally published for Museums and the Web 2011. It was co-authored by Dana Allen-Greil, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, USA; Susan Edwards and Jack Ludden, J. Paul Getty Trust, USA; and Eric Johnson, Monticello, USA. (See citation and Creative Commons information.)


Social media are altering how museums interact with the public. But how are they affecting the ways that museum professionals approach their jobs? How are large organizations dealing with new pressures for a more nimble, experimental approach to content creation, and a more personal level of engagement with staff? How do museums manage the ‘brand’ with so many people creating content, while also being flexible and bringing out the many voices in an institution? With the authors’ multiple perspectives, this paper highlights some of the ways that social media are changing the ways that staff communicate and work together, and addresses issues such as whether to distribute management of social media content across an organization or to centralize efforts; how to find tactics for educating and training staff about what social media are; and how social media can further the mission, set new expectations for current staffing positions held within the museum, and promote a cultural shift that embraces collaborative, agile ways of interacting with our peers and our audiences.

Keywords: social media, leadership, management, strategy, organizational structure

Read More

Closed to the Public: The Impacts of Closing a Museum for Construction

November 23, 2006 | By | No Comments

The following publication was written in 2006 as part of a graduate research project at The George Washington University.

Executive Summary

The end of the 20th century marked the beginning of a multi-billion dollar building boom in the museum field. While in the past few years several major construction projects have been dropped or scaled back1, the “Age of Expansion”2 in the U.S. and across the globe has continued to produce new, renovated, and expanded museum spaces at a considerable rate. While the building trend is fairly recent, thinking about how facilities fit into the mission of a museum is not. In a 1917 essay, American librarian and museum director John Cotton Dana wrote that the worth of a museum “is not in direct ratio to the cost of its building . . . A museum is good only insofar as it is of use.”3

Nearly a century after Dana penned these words, museums are working to sustain and increase their usefulness to the public. Renovation and expansion projects offer the opportunity to extend the museum’s mission by increasing exhibition space, for example, or by adding and improving facilities for educational programming. A museum in the midst of a building project, however, must balance staying useful and open to the public, on the one hand, with completing the project in a safe, cost-effective, and timely manner on the other. In this study, I explore how and why museums make the decision to close their facilities during construction, focusing particularly on the impact the decision has on the museum and its audiences. I also pay attention to ways in which museums attempt to stay “open” to the public through alternate spaces, partnerships, and outreach activities.

Much has been written in the past ten years about the building boom, about the architecture of the latest museum structures, and about the financial issues involved in construction projects.4 However, very little has been published on the fact that these projects often involve some sort of closure. The goal of this investigation is to present a comprehensive view of the issues surrounding closing a museum facility and to provide case study and best practice recommendation for museums considering such projects in the future.

In order to successfully recover from closing a building, museums must carefully plan and orchestrate the work of the museum in the name of the mission. Feasibility studies and strategic planning help to keep the organization on track while a marketing communications plan nurtures the institution’s ongoing relationship with its constituents. Special events to mark the closing and opening of the building generate buzz and create fundraising opportunities.

Closing a museum facility impacts key stakeholders in significant ways. Visitors, members, researchers, staff, volunteers, sponsors, partners and affiliates, and local schools and businesses are all affected. A museum must work diligently to minimize the negative impact of closing in order for its overall building project to be considered successful.

Museums considering building projects can learn from the insight of other institutions that have recently completed similar projects. It is, therefore, to the benefit of all museums that institutions conduct and publish evaluations based on their experiences and suggest best practices to others in the field.

    1. Morris, Martha. “Expansionism.” Museum News, July/August 2004. 30-35.
    2. Dan Monroe suggests that the “Age of Expansion” covers the period between 1995 and 2010. Monroe, Dan L. “View from the Top.” Art Museum Network News, October 2005.
    3. Dana, John Cotton. As quoted in Perspectives on Outcome Based Evaluation for Libraries and Museums. Institute of Museum and Library Services (2000).
    4. See, for example: Victoria Newhouse, Towards a New Museum, for architecture; Lord & Lord, The Manual of Museum Planning, for finances and project management; and major newspapers for general commentary on construction projects in the museum field.

Full Report

Read the full report (62 pages) including a list of 38 case studies.

[ul style=”10″] [li]Closed to the Public (PDF) [/li] [/ul]

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