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twitter Archives - Engaging Museums by Dana Allen-Greil

Beyond the #selfie: Connecting teens and art through social media

November 22, 2013 | By | No Comments

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.

Engaging Audiences with Collections via Social Media

November 15, 2013 | By | No Comments

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:

  1. Why are you using social media? What do you hope to achieve?
  2. Who are your target audiences? (Tip: “Everyone” is not a useful audience segment.)
  3. What content can you use to connect with and engage audiences? What existing assets can be repurposed? What new content needs to be created?
  4. 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.”)
  5. 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.


Glossary of Museum-Related Hashtags

May 28, 2013 | By | 20 Comments

A brief guide to some of my favorite conversations about museums, technology, and education on Twitter.

Museums and Technology

HashtagDiscussion TopicNotes
#musetechMuseums and technology (defined very broadly)This hashtag was started waaaaay back in 2010 by Carrie Kotcho and yours truly as part of a graduate course at GWU, called "Museums and Technology." We're so proud of how our baby has grown up.
#musesocialMuseums and social mediaAn ongoing hashtag as well as semi-regular chats. See Museums-Social-Media wiki for schedule (anyone may host/promote a chat using the wiki).
#musewebMuseum websites and web-based projectsNot to be confused with the excellent Museums and the Web conference (@museweb).
#mtogoMuseums and mobile technologiesIncludes smartphones, tablets, apps, responsive web design
#openglamGLAMs opening up cultural heritage data under free licenseGLAM= Galleries Libraries Archives Museums. See: OpenGLAM initiative
#glamwikiWikipedia/Wikimedia partnerships with GLAMsA subset ofRelated to #openglam but dealing specifically with how GLAMs can contribute to Wikimedia projects
#artstechArts, culture, and technologyAlso see: #artstech meetups in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and San Francisco
#museogeekMuseums and technologyLike #musetech, but en français

Museum Education

HashtagDiscussion TopicNotes
#museumedMuseum educationIncludes teaching and learning for all kinds of audiences (not just K-12)
#mpossibleWeekly museum education chatChats hosted by @SIEdLab (Smithsonian EdLab) on Thursdays, 4pm ET
#edutuesWeekly arts ed chat with the @QueensMuseum Education departmentTuesday afternoons ET

Education (General)

HashtagDiscussion TopicNotes
#edtechEducational technology resources and toolsFocuses largely on K-12 formal classroom education
#edtechchatWeekly chat about educational technology and its impact on teachers and studentsMondays, 8-9pm ET
#ntchatWeekly chat and mentoring for new and pre-service teachersWednesdays, 8-9pm ET
#artsedchatWeekly chat for arts education practitioners, particularly in schoolsThursdays, 12-7pm ET
#sschatWeekly chat for social studies teachers to improve instructionMondays, 7pm ET. Also see: sschat ning community.


HashtagDiscussion TopicNotes
#drinkingaboutmuseumsInformation about informal happy hours for museum typesCheck for events happening in cities around the world (e.g., #drinkingaboutmuseumsdc) on Google+ and check out this history/how to blog post.
#artsPRchatPublic relations and arts organizationsHosted by @missionkeycom. Brings together PR, marketing and arts pros.

Now it’s your turn…what hashtags do you find most useful?

Engaging Visitors with Social Media

March 6, 2013 | By | No 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:

[ul style=”12″] [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] [/ul]

We discussed and brainstormed about:

[ul style=”12″] [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] [/ul]

Hands-on activities helped us explore:

[ul style=”12″] [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] [/ul]

Platforms covered included:

[ul style=”12″] [li]Facebook[/li] [li]Twitter[/li] [li]Instagram[/li] [li]Pinterest[/li] [li]Wikipedia[/li] [li]Vine[/li] [/ul]

View the presentation on Slideshare.

#smwMuseSocial – Defining and Measuring Social Media Success in Museums and Arts Orgs

February 25, 2013 | By | No Comments

Social media practitioners from local museums and arts organizations gathered during Social Media Week DC for a lively discussion about the value of social media to our institutions. You can find a full recap, including presentation slides, in the Storify archive. Read More

Social studies: How educators are using social media

February 25, 2013 | By | No Comments

Last week I had the pleasure of organizing an event for Social Media Week DC with three experts in social media and learning. Fahad Hassan, Joan Le, and Darren Milligan represented a diverse perspectives on the topic: Fahad from the edtech provider community, Joan from her view as a high school science teacher using social media extensively with her teenage students, and Darren from the view of museums and other organizations creating resources and experiences for educators to use in their teaching. We were joined by a chatty group made up of roughly half educators and half people looking to reach and serve educators.

You can find a full recap, including presentation slides and video, in the Storify archive.

Highlights from #EdTechChat for museum educators

February 7, 2013 | By | No Comments

On Digital Learning Day (February 6, 2013), the Verizon Foundation and its partners hosted a Twitter chat for educators and learning organizations to share ideas and best practices, ask questions, and learn about the latest digital tools and tech-based resources available. I created a Storify archive of the highlights of the discussion that I found most relevant to museum educators looking to support teachers and learning through technology.

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:

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


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