Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
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    September 25th, 2011mardixonCulture

    Recently, I’ve been noticing a lot of people asking me to join their BranchOut network. I signed up for it as I was curious to what it was after I received an invite.  It was easy to join as it was attached to my Facebook account and after a quick peek, I quickly forgot about it.  Fast-forward a few months and I’m noticing more people sending emails saying they joined my BranchOut ‘Professional network’.  Professional network’?  But that’s what LinkedIn is, right?  So what exactly is BranchOut?

    To find out, I asked on social media:
    Does anyone think BranchOut is a threat to LinkedIn? #socialmedia

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    September 23rd, 2011mardixonCulture

    Recently, Culture24 Action Research Project Let’s Get Real held a conference in Bristol where it launched the tremendously insightful report ‘How to Evaluate Online Success?’ Report, findings & recommendations.

    I’m still reading the in-depth report but a few things I’ve found so far:

    • Measure quality or value, rather than use usage online.
    • Some institutions outsource their Google Analytics to a third party.

    Future Trend:

    • Mobile traffic was, for every museum, growing rapidly.
    • Automated shortening of URLS to t.co in August 2011 will allow for better reports on Twitter-based traffic.
    • Very few organizations set up goals in GA.


    • Search traffic was still the main avenue visitors used to find sites (another reminder of the importance of SEO).  This was picked up on when discussion lead to importance/useage of homepage in today’s society.
    • Mobile traffic is growing.  Institutions need to move this priority from back burner to front burner.

    Social media:

    • Social media should be renamed Engagement strategy – social media only works when you engage with the followers.
    • The formula for Facebook engagement, while looking like something out of Quantative Maths, really is a simple breakdown that is very easy to follow. (Kudos to the designer of the formula though!).
    • Simply having a social media strategy is not enough – strategy needs to be ‘targeted and effective’ eg not written with business hat on.

    As always, throughout the conference, there were a lot of tweets.  I pdf’d majority of them here with some of my favorites being:

    #c24lgr @tomux If you aim for the moon and only get half way that is still impressive (Love this statement).
    #c24lgr @tomux Be engaged and be involved in the community.
    #c24lgr You’re always in beta at best <~ so true! Need a working document but not many get to end goal.

    The following blogs and links are must reads:

    Thanks to all involved in the conference including the fabulous Jane Finnis, Rosie Clarke and the whole Culture24 team.

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    September 19th, 2011mardixonCulture

    Recently, I was in a meeting when it was explained they (a council) were choosing not to use QR Codes as ‘we’ve been told it’s a passing phase’.  I soon found myself going into Pro-QR Code mode.  Why?  Because while I recognize they are not for everyone, it was clear the ‘techy’ people who this particular council were speaking to didn’t know about them so felt scare-tactics worked best.  This got me thinking that maybe all these great QR Code* website and blogs were talking over the average person and maybe assuming they knew more than they did.

    This blog is going to be a bit different as when I explained to my daughter Charlotte (9) what I was doing on a Sunday she nonchalantly started telling me what she knows about QR Codes.   Charlotte agreed to write the blog and cover various industries (from publishing, museums, colleges and universities and everything in between).

    What are QR Codes ?
    Quick Response codes.  It’s the black and white squares you see on soda cans, advertising, and things like that.  My mom has one on her business card.  You can put them anywhere.

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    September 16th, 2011mardixonCulture, International

    A Guest Blog by Satoko Shimizu @0bo5_fr who is a Student of Tokyo University of Foreign Languages (TUFS) French major.

    When we hear “social media and museum” we tend to think about interesting action from the museum side for a more open-wide visitor. But social media can be tools that visitors use to express their opinions to the museum.

    In Paris there is an interesting movement as a good example.

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    September 12th, 2011mardixonCulture, Literacy

    After reading @samatlounge  EveryThink: What do you think, Sam Missingham? I started to think about where I see the trend of social media heading.  It seems that, even two years ago, social media was still labelled a kid’s gadget.  You know the stereotype I’m talking about – only ‘kids’ are on Facebook, and only kids were ever on MySpace.

    However, it now seems, slowly but surely, different industries are starting to remove their blinders and recognize they need social media now more than ever.  However, I’ve also been watching how many go in heavy handed relying strictly on their brand name.

    This doesn’t work – especially not on Twitter. Yes you will get the followers flocking like the little birds to a new tree but unless you give us a reason to stay, we will leave.  And when we leave, we will find another tree that meets our needs.

    Consumers have a clear idea of what they want from companies (whether it be book, cultural, IT or fabric industry and everything in between) but companies do not always provide the information desired.  They provide what THEY feel consumers want.

    For me, this is why there is a clear need for a Social Media Strategy regardless of the size of your company or brand.  The big names I have seen flying wingless in the wind have been the ones that clearly do not have a strategy.  They look at social media as something everyone can do – which as Sam pointed out, is not always the case.

    The strategy does not need to be a complicated document but there needs to be guidelines for those you allow to represent your brand.

    Bottom line:  Social media strategy is the puzzle piece that will differentiate those who survive long term and those who don’t.

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    September 8th, 2011mardixonCulture

    Anyone who has read my website knows how passionate I am about  Wolverhampton Art Gallery (see examples here and here) so having an opportunity to interview the curators was a real treat for me.  Wolverhampton has the second biggest pop collection outside of London but also embraces local and social history in addition to Georgian and Victorian art.  It’s a delicate balance to combine all of these under one roof but they have never disappointed.

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    September 4th, 2011mardixonCulture

    Bantock House was built in 1730’s for Bantock family who made their money as a canal and railway agent after moving to Wolverhampton from Scotland.  The house was left to Wolverhampton in 1938 but, as that was world time, it was used for the home guard until 1948.  It wasn’t until 1999 that this Grade II listed building took it’s current, and most impressive, stance as a social history museum.

    I was able to have a chat with three of curators:

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    September 1st, 2011mardixonCulture

    The Wolverhampton Archives falls under the umbrella of the Wolverhampton Arts Services.  Originally started in 1978 with the first archivist, Liz Reese. It’s original position, like many other city archives, were integrated with the library services before they moved to their own premises in 1996 in Snow Hill.  They stayed at Snow Hill until moving to their current, and hopefully permanent, location at the city’s historic Molineux Hotel in March 2009.  The building had remained derelict for many years, and was additionally destroyed by a fire in 2003. Luckily, Caroline Sampson, the archivist at the time, was very proactive.  She saw past the damage and recognized the value of the Grade II* listed building for being the perfect marriage of old with new (there was a new extension added).

    I was able to interview Heidi McIntosh, the City Archivist and Jon Everall, Conservator. However, it was very much a group interview with whoever could/would answer the question.  For example, my first question was actually answered by an Archives and Local Studies Assistant who was researching information behind a desk!  It clearly is a friendly, helpful atmosphere

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    August 29th, 2011mardixonCulture

    Anyone who knows me, knows my passion and love for the Natural History Museum.  Through the power of social media, I’ve been able to build my relationship with the internationally renowned museum.

    I had arranged to interview Ian as Charlotte and I were in London to attend our first proms together.  Ian was kind enough to make time with short notice.

    How long have you been Manager?
    Five years, but been at the museum for 14 years

    What is your biggest achievement?
    It may seem strange, but putting the accessibility toilets and baby changing facility in (located by Exhibition Road).  It was 2004 and the Disability was passed and although we met the guidelines, I wanted to do more.

    What is your proudest moment?
    The Launch of the Darwin Centre in September 2005.  Seeing all the different elements of Natural History Museum come together – visitor services, tours, presenting, etc.

    What is the vision for the future?
    Our focus for the next 2-3 years is to increase visitor focus within our organization.

    How many visitors did you have last year?
    4.2 million and another 120,000 that visiting Tring.

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    August 28th, 2011mardixonCulture

    Attingham Park is a National Trust located in Shropshire and was built for the 1st Lord Berwick in 1785.  I’ve been several time with my family and on school trips and am always amazed at their detail to care for kids of all ages.

    Ben and Charlotte in Front of House

    Attingham is more then just a house as it has a walled garden with activities such as water the plants available, a garden theme play area, in addition to a deer park, family trails, and delicious café.

    We were taken on a mini tour before the house was open.  The first item we were shown was the QR code by the clock tower as you aren’t allowed in the clock tower but could see what it was like when it was working.  Attingham Park is one of the first National trust sites utilizing this new technology.  There are QR codes throughout the house (although signal was a bit of an issue to load the pages, the QR reader was able to save the url for me to reference later).

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