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.
No matter where you are in your organization, or where your museum is in its digital evolution, you can play a leadership role in developing a meaningful digital strategy. But to do this well, you’ll need to think first about people: Who are you trying to serve? Who do you need to communicate or collaborate with? And how can you best converse with those people? Maybe you have a formal strategy in place, but you need to be better at communicating it to leadership and your colleagues. Perhaps you’re working on a digital strategy in the absence of a larger institutional plan. Or maybe you’re just getting started in thinking about how to tackle the strategic planning process. There is no one right way to build a digital strategy, but there are frameworks, tools, and tips that can make the process smoother and more collaborative.