Image credit: Rutgers University, Online Mini-MBA™: Social Media for the Arts
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.
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
Why Twitter? The beginning
It started out as a way to cover live events during the National Museum of American History’s (NMAH) November 2008 reopening weekend. Following a 2-year renovation-related closure, we knew that the museum’s fans were eager to see the doors reopen. Planned festivities included a dedication ceremony with then-President George W. Bush and a ribbon-cutting opening day celebration featuring General Colin Powell (Ret.). We wanted to provide a fan’s-eye view of the celebration even for those who could only join us virtually. We looked to various social media outlets to accomplish this access, launching a new blog, Facebook page, Flickr group, and Twitter account.
The following was originally published as a chapter in the book, Twitter for Museums.
“Measuring, Analyzing, Reporting”
We’re still in the very early stages of defining success and determining best practices for social media measurement.1 If you’ve already dipped your toe in the Twitter water, you know that riding the swells can be exhilarating. But the dizzying pace and loose structure can also make you feel unanchored, aimless, adrift. An evaluation plan can help you set the course, steer the ship, and eventually earn your sea legs. (Inspiration for the maritime metaphors is courtesy of Twitter’s “failwhale.”)