Museums Online

A blog to go with a series of workshops for museums on social media

One thing … October 23, 2009

Robert Burns in the Octagon

Robert Burns in the Octagon

As at the other workshops in this series, participants at the Dunedin workshop shared the one (or two or three!) things that they’ll do next with social media:

‘Develop a social media strategy to give direction to our efforts.’

‘Involve younger people in our organisation through technology.’

‘Gather community contributions, as well as push out our own content and information!’

‘Report back to the team, show examples of what others are doing, and demonstrate that using social media is possible and manageable.’

‘We’ll review our website – make sure we are updating it regularly – and establish blog to promote various projects. We need to identify specific purposes and uses for each tool we’re using, have a play to explore possibilities, and include all the businesses we work with in this process.’

‘Try some simple ways to promote our major festival. We’ll contribute events to NZLive.com and add visitor comments to our website while we develop a longer term social media strategy.’

‘Social media is not necessarily frivalous but could be a key promotional channel for us.’

‘Time to explore the tools! We need to schedule social media activities in our diaries: expand our events listings on NZLive.com and other services, and set up analytics to measure website stats.’

‘We need to value ‘virtual’ visitors, and develop visitor involvement in all future exhibits.’

‘We’ll create a strategy to identify priorities and small steps – selecting one or two activities that will serve us best. This might include refining our e-newsletter, exploring Facebook and getting our friends group on Flickr.

‘Refining our existing strategy is the next step – getting a listing on NZLive.com and exploring Facebook and a blog.’

Participants came up with some great ideas at the workshop, such as:

  • using wikis to gather stories and reflections from the community – maybe partnering with a school and inviting students to gather oral histories and build the wiki
  • blogging about a museum and building redevelopment project to demonstrate, amongst other things, progress and value to project sponsors
  • getting the gardner to blog
  • creating short videos for posting on tourism sites to target international audiences
  • using social networks to support  ‘friends’ groups and reach young families.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their ideas and social media experiments. Great to hear that some of you are already getting promising results from promoting events on Facebook and other services and from networking with related websites!

image cc filippo_jean

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Yellow pages are dead – long live social media! October 6, 2009

It’s been a great session with the Whanganui museums today. Participants said they wanted to get these things out of the workshop:

  • ways to connect to the collegiate community
  • avenues to earn money
  • making my museum more visible
  • increasing the value of the museum to the community
  • increasing the professionalism of our museum
  • what comes next after a website?
  • new, smart ideas to encourage contributions from the community.

Of course, the yellow pages aren’t dead – Mark points out that social media is another channel to reach audiences. This means more work for stretched museums, so prioritising is important.

First steps – make sure your museum is on NZMuseums and NZLive – these organisations will do the marketing for you if you provide the content. Send them content regularly – press releases and events. They love getting new content and will post it to their sites. They’ve also got staff on hand to help you out.

Then maybe contemplate a blog – especially if you don’t have a website at all – to share your stories and engage your community (and don’t forget to promote your blog to your networks). Further down the track, perhaps a twitter account to promote your events and highlight your collection and also a flickr page for photos and images.

Social networks are another step up again … What’s important about these sites is that you can put your information in the places where your audience goes. They are likely to spend more time on Facebook and Twitter than on your website.

‘There’s so much out there that you have to remain focused and in control – or you’ll be overwhelmed and confused … even depressed!’, says Mark from MAVtech Museum.

I think the key is focus on your goal – what you want to achieve – and then use the tools that will best help you achieve this – whether it’s increasing audience visits, raising money or professional development for staff. You’re likely to use a range of marketing methods (print, online, environmental) to achieve your goal.

‘You have to realise that there is redundancy – what you do on twitter and the blog and on Facebook may overlap, but that’s not a problem – you are making sure you reach as wide an audience as possible’, Mark adds.

As well as marketing and building audiences, social media are invaluable for supporting the professional development of museum staff. Again, information overload is a potential problem – find one blog you want to read and one community to join (it might even be a community that relates to your personal interests instead of your professional ones, to get you started).