For nearly a decade, museums have been using social media to communicate and connect with the public. As social media become more ubiquitous in museums and ingrained in our visitors’ everyday lives, old questions reemerge: How can a cultural institution best connect with a variety of audiences online?
Tweeting, Tumbling, snapping photos–how can we turn typical teen behaviors in the museum into meaningful learning experiences? At the National Gallery of Art, thousands of middle and high school students visit each year. Most are not pre-registered, do not participate in formal educational programs such as tours, and are set loose on their own to explore the museum. To reach and engage this audience, the Gallery created a printed guide to the permanent collection (called #atNGA) that encourages looking carefully at works of art, making connections between art and life, exploring art as historical and cultural expression, and reflecting on the creative spirit. What makes this guide different is that each work of art is paired with a social media prompt such as: take and share a photo (via Instagram), craft a text response (via Twitter), or ponder a question with a friend. By explicitly inviting and helping to shape teens’ social media interactions with the Gallery, we hope to turn what might otherwise be a frivolous encounter into a learning experience. This presentation will share the results of our evaluation research and discuss the broader challenges and opportunities of connecting with teens via social media.
You know best the unique stories your collections have to tell and work hard to preserve those collections for future generations. But how do you take collections care activities from “behind the scenes” to front and center, engaging and educating the public? This was the central question addressed by a four-part series of webinars for small museums and libraries on the topic of collections care outreach. The series was hosted by Heritage Preservation‘s Connecting to Collections Online Community.
My session focused on the strategic use of social media for outreach related to collections. I talked about how to set goals, select the right platforms for your audience, create compelling content, and evaluate success. I showed examples of how organizations can leverage tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, and Google Hangouts to connect with today’s audiences and engage them in meaningful conversations about collections.
I also suggested the following key questions to consider when developing a social media strategy:
- Why are you using social media? What do you hope to achieve?
- Who are your target audiences? (Tip: “Everyone” is not a useful audience segment.)
- What content can you use to connect with and engage audiences? What existing assets can be repurposed? What new content needs to be created?
- What do you want to sound like? (Tip: Try creating a list of contrasting values that illustrate the tonal qualities you want to use as guidelines. For example, “friendly, not cutesy” or “clever, not snarky.”)
- What does success mean for you? How might you find evidence of success?
The presentation deck is chock full of great examples from museums and libraries—from the Brooklyn Historical Society to the Shakespeare Library. Take a peek at the slides below or watch the webinar recording on the Connecting to Collections website for the full experience.
Have you seen other great examples of social media being deployed by cultural institutions to connect with audiences about the care and appreciation of collections? Please share in the comments.
What outcomes are you hoping to achieve with social media?
Are your social media practices engaging online communities to their greatest potential?
How do you know if you are achieving your goals?
How can you take your social media initiatives to the next level?
These four key questions were explored during the “Engaging Visitors with Social Media” workshop I presented at the IMLS WebWise Conference (March 6, 2013).
Participants saw and heard about:
[li]Inspirational case studies from inside and outside the museum and library sectors[/li]
[li]Pursuing marketing, education, crowdsourcing, and advocacy goals through social media[/li]
[li]Organizational models for social media management[/li]
[li]Optimizing social content through data analysis[/li]
[li]Taking your efforts to the next level with a paid-earned-owned mix of activities[/li]
We discussed and brainstormed about:
[li]Defining the value and goals of social media for your organization[/li]
[li]Identifying desired outcomes[/li]
[li]Setting the right tone and voice for your organization[/li]
[li]Overcoming fear and risk-aversion[/li]
Hands-on activities helped us explore:
[li]How content goes viral[/li]
[li]Connecting social tools to organizational strategy and capabilities[/li]
[li]Determining which social media platforms are right for your target audiences and goals[/li]
Platforms covered included:
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: