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?
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?
Last August 2011, I ran a simple survey called Does Social media work for Cultural Sector. At the time, I had no idea that Cultural 24 was working on their large scale research Let’s Get Real. Nor did I know what difference it was going to make (if any).
The results were intriguing and I mentioned I might run it again in a year. Fast forward a year and a kind reminder by Ann that it was again time for the survey.
RT @ann_les: @MarDixon, hi! Have you carried out the same survey (http://www.mardixon.com/wordpress/2011/08/does-social-media-work-for-cultural-sector-survey/) this year?
Although I recognize that much has changed in the past year, I decided to leave all the questions the same as 2011. I *really* want to ask more prying questions but realize that would skew results if we are to honestly compare the data from 2011 to 2012.
Please share this survey with everyone.
March 16th, 2012Culture
With years of collective experience in social media engagement, many museums are stopping to ask themselves: what have we really learned about the audiences we are connecting with? Have we formed more meaningful relationships with our community and in the process, are we better serving the missions of our institutions?
#Musesocial is a tag on Twitter which I was first introduced to by Erin Blasco, from the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. A few weeks ago, I noticed she was asking provocative and probing questions such as ‘after following a museum on social media, have you visited its website more or less?’ or ‘what do you wish museums were doing more of with social media?’ These questions were sparking conversations, some receiving unexpecting replies (for me, I’m not going to speak for Erin). But it was very interesting and eye opening.Tags: #musesocial, #mw2012, museums, social media
February 7th, 2012International
One of the biggest challenges I face as a consultant is hearing people say ‘I haven’t had time to ‘play’ on social media’. This statement is often being said by those making decisions on their cultural venues future.
And the question really should be ‘Can you afford not too?’Tags: social media
I recently took part in the Guardian’s Culture Professional end of year Chat: a good or bad year for culture and heritage.
While I tend to stick to the more traditional cultural aspects (museums, art galleries, heritage venues) the chat brought up some other aspects such as contemporary performances, ballets, opera, etc.
One of the points I made was I felt 2011 was the Year of Collaboration. To my surprise, this seemed to have caused a discussion on whether it really was or not. Since the Arts council cuts were announced earlier in the year, it was clear to me that the only route for the smaller venues to survive had to be collaboration.Tags: 2012 predictions, Culture, museums, social media
This is the time of the year when my tweets tend to shift from museums and miscellaneous to literary (and miscellaneous) as the Frankfurt Book Fair is one of THE literary events that most of my literary friends are either going to or part of. Publishers, authors, agents all seem to flog to Germany for this International event. At the same time, there are a lot of literary festivals this time of the year (such as the brilliant Cheltenham Festivals which those who can’t get to Germany prefer to attend.
I love books. I love reading, I love going to libraries and book stores and searching new books I didn’t know existed. I love the feeling of leaping into a book – becoming a bystander in the scenes that I’m reading. Charlotte and I are fortunate to sometimes receive books from publishers to review which has spurred her love of reading even further. And recently, I even received an acknowledgement in L.A. Weatherly sequel Angel Fire. [Thank you!]Tags: digital, FutureBook, Literacy, social media
During the last few weeks, I’ve noticed peaks and troughs with the diverse industries I follow. I contemplated how I could capture this data and felt the best way was to track Twitter for 12 hours over one day.
I started tracking at 8:00 am on September 27th 2011. My account (@MarDixon) currently stands:
The key industries I follow could be broken into the following main sectors. Other sectors are mentioned through the report.
Literacy: This includes publishers, writers/authors, marketing, eBook
Museums: Including Art Galleries, Heritage Venues, people working within the industries.
American Museums: As above
Science: Groups or persons who promote the science industry
Personal tweets: Tweets, while not exclusive of the above personnel, were clearly on a non-professional basis.
Other: Tweets that didn’t fit into the main categories
There were some obvious times to tweet and not tweet and it seems different industries have slotted themselves into times that work best for them. I seen minimal clashes of tweets vying for audiences attention. This was interesting as it pinpoints times throughout the day where tweeting is more effective for certain industries.
This data is raw and obviously not scientific. The notes were taken as and when I saw trends shifting and are only estimates.
I also tried to take notes along the way to help gauge where trends where leading. Please see them here.
September 25th, 2011Culture
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:Tags: social media
Does anyone think BranchOut is a threat to LinkedIn? #socialmedia
September 23rd, 2011Culture
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.
- 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 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:Tags: Culture24, Google Analytics, social media, Social media strategy