What’s the main reason Museums carry out social media? As an avid follower of many online, here’s my take as a digital marketer.

There are many institutions that are using social media as a platform to keep their followers updated with information for their next event. And the event after that. It doesn’t seem to stop. That said, I’m also avidly following Museums that offer me snippets of education on a daily basis. It’s all Arts, History, and Culture wrapped up in an exciting, witty post every day, without fail. Friends think I’m a history expert now, and I know who to thank.

For Museums, social media is an effective tool that helps them build awareness of their exhibits, promote events, and raise interest. These elements, however, are a side dish to the main course. Museums that practice innovative social media don’t use it to just build awareness of their next exhibit or event. Through the use of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and others, they offer their audience a true extension of the Museum and more importantly, a window to the exhibit or work they are featuring.

A portion of your audience may not be able to visit your Museum

There’s nothing worse than being located miles, cities, or even continents away from a Museum only for it to entice you with events that you’ll have zero chances of attending. Jealous… me? Okay… just a little, but generally speaking your audiences will fall in either of the following two categories: Local and Non-local.

While it’s good to share your event calendar with your followers, try not to alienate those that may not be able to attend your Museum regularly. Instead, cater to both audiences and offer a variety of information. Aside from an interest in your Museum, your followers have one thing in common: they like Art, History, and Culture – and dear Museum, you have plenty of it to share! Sure, they can’t visit you yet, but you can certainly provide them with the next best thing via engaging social media. Think of it as a “Museum away from Museum” experience.

Appeal to my inner historian or the artist in me

Carrying on with the ‘Museum away from Museum’ theme, we need to break down the core reasons visitors attend your Museum. Is it to learn about your exhibits? Soak in some history? Just passing by? In all cases, it definitely has to do with an interest in History, Arts, and Culture in general right? Use that and reflect it within your content.

Whether it is a Facebook post providing a snapshot into an exhibit, or a Twitter update telling me what happened this day 200 years ago. If I am learning, I am staying engaged with you. Try to understand the interests of your audience by observing your social media analytics, and you’ll see a trend in the most popular posts compared to the least popular. What posts attract more likes, more comments, and engagement than others? Provide more of the same, and you’re on the start of a good track already. By incorporating events, quotes, and educational posts into the overall strategy, you’ll boost engagement and interaction towards your Museum. A good example and a Museum I regularly follow is The Ringling. They provide weekly snippets of informative content that is educational yet equally beautiful to observe.

Don’t make your visitors hunt for more information

There are endless ways in which you can engage with your reader. The idea is to build interest in a post and hopefully lead the follower to your website to learn more. Often, though, I’ve seen Museums create postings that only provide a fraction of the full information. What those Museums don’t recognise is that by this point, you already have my attention and I want to learn more. If you haven’t provided me with the direct links, I’d have to manually sieve this information from your website or rely on my trusted pal, Google. By the time I get to that stage, they’ve lost a website visit.

Regardless of the type of post, always offer links to more information. If you are providing a quote from a famous artist, for instance, tell me who this artist is, why I should be interested in them, and provide links to their work. I particularly like the detailed and dynamic posts created by The Metropolitan Museum of Art on their Facebook page. Not only do they post interesting content, I know the important bits about it by the time I’ve finished reading. Perfect.

Smaller Museums can engage their followers, too. The main message here is to keep your followers involved. Let’s imagine your social media page is a book and your aim is to keep the reader engaged throughout. How would you present it? What content would you include to keep the reader focused, and how would you speak and interact with them? They say books are often judged by their covers, and so your social media pages must firstly reflect your branding, your Museum. Secondly, the content must be dynamic and compelling to attract followers and maintain their attention.

Finally, what’s the story behind your Museum? Smaller Museums have the advantage here, where your followers can watch you grow and be part of your journey. When The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester (MOSI) was recently threatened with closure, its followers, fans, and the wider community rallied around and provided their support. Through Twitter, they raised awareness with tweets containing a #saveMOSI hashtag, and through additional social media channels, fans were able to share the ‘Save MOSI’ online petition to gain over 30,000 signatures against its closure. Today, though the future is still uncertain, they definitely have the support from both the local and wider community, in part due to the awareness generated through social media and the web.

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