I’m often asked why / how sectors (cultural and business) should use social media and this snowy weather has been a great example. Since the snow started in the UK this week, I’ve witness some prime customer service that proved another value for social media (for those still unsure). Tweets and Facebook updates went beyond the collection and that was absolutely brilliant. It showed a pulse behind the walls – it showed the humanist side that is oh so important with *social* media.
The following are just a few examples that I’ve seen.
Delayed opening and Closure information. Like many schools, museums were playing that ‘Do we stay open or do we close’ game that they recognized was inconvenient for those wanting to visit. Being completely honest and transparent with the updates lessen the blow for those that were planning on visiting but couldn’t. Why? Because as annoying as it was, the updates explained the reason behind the decision.
Museum / Gallery had to close? Not a problem as many shared activities on the website to keep kids / family occupied. Apps and games were big suggestions but seen a few recommendations of books and other websites.
Transportation information (including bus routes) were being shared so even if the venue was staying open, you knew what public transportation was running (or not running as the case may be).
Sharing of local information – not just museum related. Lots of local independent businesses were trying to stay open and I caught a few tweets that mentioned the venue was closing but to get a nice slice of cake at the local bakery, etc.
Sharing Snowman pictures - ok, so yes yes everyone was sharing snowman pictures. But a few clever people did non-traditional snowmen that were brilliant. It didn’t have anything to do with the museum or art gallery but it fell under the ‘creative’ heading and it was refreshing to see the venues taking part in the fun of the moment.
Recommendations of checking on neighbours and homeless. This wasn’t just museums doing this but it was nice to see museums and cultural venues reminding their followers.
As it’s just the start of the ‘winter season’ I’m sure we’ll have many more snow/ice days to contend with.
If you were one of the museums who tweeted one of the above – THANK YOU! If you weren’t, maybe next time?
This also led to discussions on advocacy and the role advocates play in today’s word-of-mouth marketing. This is not a new ethos, but with the use of social media advocates can provide a quicker more positive approach to bring in a wider range of diverse people
With this in mind, I thought it would be good to share a few suggestions on where to start:
Tags: advocates, Culture, museum community, museums, Volunteer
Like all relationships, these things take time. Some advocates already exist (Friends, Volunteers) while other relationships need to be built up.
These are thoughts from different conversations I have had on social media.
Outreach to the community.
Bring the community into the museum instead of waiting for them to come to you. Many community groups such as ones that work with elders, community volunteers, disabled, etc, are looking for different projects but might not feel cultural venues fit into their program or even know they are an option. Think beyond education and interpretation.
Do NOT forget the Teens/Young People.
As many people may or may not know, we are creating Teens in Museums with founding members Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum Teen Summit, Smithsonian Ed Lab & Museum of London Youth Panel to help provide a portal for international venues to share both best practice and examples of projects that might not have worked but might work for someone else. Trying and Sharing is so important.
Stop running museums as a business.
Ok, they need to be run as a business but do we the visitors need to know that? We don’t want to constantly be reminded that money is a forefront thought. Transparency is brilliant, to a point. A good example of how to be transparent: Natural History Museum in London periodically shares visitor numbers via Twitter, but doesn’t follow up with running cost.
Think outside the box
or as Adrian Russell suggested, CRUSH the box completely. In October I had the honor of seeing how opening the doors and trusting people could make a huge difference when I attended MuseoMix. Giving up a bit of control and allowing outsiders access to collections WILL provide a huge return. Museums need to think differently in order for meaningful changes to happen.
Museums and Art Galleries do not need to be overwhelming.
Think of them as a shopping mall – you only take away what you need but it’s nice to know where other items are should you need them. I’ve always had the philosophy that exposure was the key. Learn one thing from every visit – not everything, just one thing. I don’t even care if it is where the bathrooms are located or if the cafe sells cake.
Don’t feel you have to look at the art/artefacts
Just getting use to the space and seeing it’s not as intimidating as you might assume is time well spent.
How long should you look at a picture or artefact?
It doesn’t matter! If you don’t like it or it doesn’t grab your attention, move along. No one will snicker or roll their eyes or *tsk * behind your back.
Use Front of House for questions
Seriously, those people that stand/sit in the corner are there to answer questions – not just to tell you photos aren’t allowed. And they LOVE being asked questions.
Both venues and visitors need to use it more for conversation and less for marketing.
Social media is not to be used as a threat when one little thing doesn’t go your way. You can not threaten to use social media just because one employee didn’t respond quick enough, or the que was too long in the loo.
STOP using social media to SELL. Be social! Tell us why we should visit but interact with us when we’re there. Be the eyes and ears for what we don’t see – go behind the scenes. Ask us what we’d like to see. Ask us if we like cake, just talk TO us instead of AT us.
I’m sure there are other items not addressed here but these have been topics I’ve noticed in the last few weeks. What would you add? What do you dis/agree with?
December 16th, 2012Culture
Takeover Day is an initiative created by the Children’s Commissioner in England in which every sector (public and private sector) is invited/encouraged to allow kids to take over for the day. Kids in Museums runs the museums sector.
This year, the Children’s Commissioner of Wales took part with a Taking Over Day for museums for the first time.
Over 1500 children and young people – from toddlers to young adults – took over 85 museums on Takeover Day 2012 on Friday 23rd November. Museum directors, front of house staff, curators, conservators, website designers and catering staff were replaced by children.
Once again, I had the privilege of travelling with Paul Hutchinson from Virtual Shropshire to several venues to capture Takeover Day / Taking Over Day 2012 on film (or digital…).Tags: Kids in Museums, Take Over Day, Teens in Museums
New exhibition: Unexpected Pleasures: The Art and Design of Contemporary Jewellery @DesignMuseum (& more!)2December 7th, 2012Culture
On the train journey down to London, I was reading the Metro (free paper) when I was reminded the Design Museum has a new exhibition. I tweeted the article as it looked interesting – and the Tweet had people asking me more about it. So I decided to head over to Design Museum to see the exhibition.
Unexpected Pleasurers: The Art and Design of Contemporary Jewellery – runs until 2 March
Have to be honest: I don’t really care about jewellery. Nor am I a fan of fashion (ahem). I’m not even a huge design fan (although Thomas Heatherwick has been changing my opinion).
You don’t have to be any of these things to appreciate the exhibition as it goes beyond the fashion item into the thought-process of the design and the value contemporary jewellery brings to our society. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: Design Museum, London, review
November 26th, 2012Culture
On Tuesday November 20th, Paul Hutchinson from Virtual Shropshire and I made our way to the National Slate Museum in North Wales to cover Taking Over Day for Kids in Museums. This was the first time Wales participated in this event.
The National Slate Museum is very similar to Blists Hill in Ironbridge for those who have been there – it’s an open air museum that consist of working machinery and buildings to help bring to life the history of Welsh slate industry.
Did I mention the rain? It was pouring. A lot.Tags: Kids in Museums, Take Over Day, Teens in Museums, Wales
November 19th, 2012Culture
Last week, I attended a workshophosted by RNIB called ‘Opening Up Creative Culture’. This one-off free workshop at Ironbridge Museums asked for volunteers to be train to create audio descriptive tours for arts and cultures. While the course name presumes all candidates would work at a museum, that wasn’t true. It was refreshing to find several candidates were Teaching Assistant, others were audio guide speakers and others were people who were visibly impaired. All felt privileged to be there (and yes, there was a waiting list).Tags: CultureAccess, Ironbridge Gorge Museum, Museum, RNIB
One of the last sessions of the Museum Association Conference was Michael Spender from Poole Museum and I talking about the Social Museum. While we were referring to museums themselves being social, it did obviously integrate social media into the talk.
The concept is simple: Have a social environment within your museum and it will shine through via the social media. The social environment could be created with an open plan office, where lines of communications are opened and barriers (walls) are removed.
Our’s was a Soapbox session which was great as I took the opportunity to mention a few tips such as:
- Do not let your social media sit within your PR department. Allow everyone to tweet for you – if you don’t trust them to tweet for you, don’t let them in your museum.
- Visitors recognize when there is discourse within a museum. Why would visitors want to come to a museum with long faces, even though free, when they can go to the movies for a few hours and leave with a smile?
- Museums who are knew or unsure can get involved with hashtags to get involved online. Of course we mentioned CultureThemes (as Michael and I are both Founding members) but there are many to get involved with.
- Making mistakes on social media is OK! Not only does it show your human, but it shows things aren’t scripted. If the mistake is more than a typo – just apologize (and be genuine about it).
The tweets (pdf) from our session are available to download here.
I’ll be writing more about the conference in another post.
Guest post from Laura Haapio-Kirk, community manager at sharypic.com, a collaborative photo sharing platform for events. Laura has an MSc in Visual Anthropology from Oxford University and is interested in museum experience.
Photography is increasingly central to our everyday experience of the world, both as a means to mark significant moments and to document aesthetic sights (or, in some cases, to share what we’re having for dinner). However, in a museum we are often uncertain of whether photography is allowed and there is debate on the issue amongst museum professionals, with many institutions still hesitant to give full permission because uncertainty over lender’s rights (this informal survey highlights the issue nicely).Tags: Guest Blog, museomix, Photos
On Oct 25th I attended a conference that was essentially a wrap up of the fabulous work done by teens within the Stories of the World project. Stories of the World was an initiative related to London 2012 Cultural Olympiad ‘Inspire a Generation’ which worked with young people in partnership with curators to ‘uncover objects that tell stories that resonate with their interests.’ Read the rest of this entry »Tags: Cultural Olympiad, London 2012, museums, Teens in Museums