Creating a strategy—particularly if it involves co-creation with other stakeholders—can be a lot of work. For many people who are working solo or in a very small team, the first reaction to being tasked with “writing a strategy” is to push back and ask: “Why? What will the benefit be?”
This was one of the salient discussion points of many during the “What is Digital Strategy Now?” professional forum hosted by myself, Rob Stein, Emily-Lytle-Painter, and Max Evjen at Museums and the We 2017. Check out the full recap on the American Alliance of Museums website.
At Museums and the Web 2012, Hart, Royston, Sexton, Stein, and Wyman debated several different approaches to Digital Strategy and how museums might think about integrating (or not) digital approaches into the overarching strategies of their organizations. In the years since, we’ve seen significant approaches in digital strategy from the Tate, SFMOMA, NARA, and many others. As the whole museum becomes more digital, what approach – if any – should museums take regarding digital strategy?
What do we know about digital strategies today that differs from 2012? What worked? What failed? What does the future of digital strategy look like? What do you do in the absence of an overall strategy? How do we support digital strategies to “manage up”? How does digital strategy bring disparate staff/goals together for a greater impact? Does digital strategy require a new organizational structure?
The panelists will address these questions and others while discussing examples of overall and standalone digital strategies that succeeded, failed, or changed into overall strategies, and will explore the reasons for those outcomes.
Session attendees will split into facilitated group discussions that tackle a series of provocative questions about digital strategies and how they should or should not be implemented in museums as a means to try answer to the question: What is the digital strategy of the future? To extend the reach of the session, panelists agree to document the discussions that take place in a post-conference report online to continue to include a broad audience in the best thinking about strategy and digital.
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.
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.
Before we can measure social media success, we must first be able to answer the question: Why is social media important for museums and what are we hoping to achieve?