5 social media themes from 4 workshops with 31 organisations

15 December 2009

By Sarah Jones

Boost New Media

It was a really interesting month working with museums around New Zealand on their social media activities and strategies for building audiences. I’ve run four workshops for National Services Te Paerangi – in the process, meeting fabulous, passionate museums, archives, gallery and library professionals who are curious about social media.

We’ve run a series of workshops for National Services Te Paerangi, meeting passionate museums, archives, gallery and library professionals who want to find out more about what social media can do for them.

Here are the five themes that have stood out for us:

1. A professional presence on Facebook enables organisations to intersect with the social lives of potential audiences. Research indicates that social interaction can be a pretext for participation, and also that people are increasingly influenced by recommendations from family, friends and even strangers over traditional forms of promotion. Facebook and services like it encourage fans to market your service for you. Museums reported some successful forays into audience building via Facebook.

2. Virtual visits are something that museums can value as a legitimate cultural experience. Virtual visits can generate physical visits – web camera footage of the dissection of the colossal squid had people turning up to Te Papa to see it in the flesh. Curating online makes your collection or service accessible to audiences who are remote and may never be able to walk through the doors.

3. Use of social media is increasingly nuanced and discriminating. Te Papa has two twitter feeds: one focuses on promoting events, happenings, exhibitions and giveaways, and the other profiles interesting items from their collection. Ideas for blogs generated by workshop participants ranged from working with the community to identify unknown objects in a collection to presenting a characterful, behind-the-scenes museum personality.

For resource-strapped organisations, a blog or Facebook page may give them a low-cost web presence or greater flexibility if they are part of a larger website run by a parent organisation. A website is important but not enough. A website centralises information about your organisation; social media distributes information. Audiences may visit your website rarely but receive your twitter updates regularly.

4. ‘Under the radar’ activities are giving way to building social media into communications and marketing plans. Linking your activities to your marketing objectives will help you choose the right tools for the right reasons, prioritise what you can manage, as well as think through the implications for organisational social media policy, branding and so on (see this post on the workshop blog about social media strategy).

We’ve heard from a few workshop participants who’ve set up blogs and twitter accounts, including:

Runanga FallsPresbytarian ResearchNational Army Museum,

Check out the workshop blog to read about what participants thought and to get links to great examples of museums’ use of social media and articles and tips on using social media effectively.

This blog post was reproduced with the kind permission of Boost New Media.

1 Comment


  1. Facebook allows groups to intersect with the social lives of making audiences.Facebook and services like it encourage fans to market your service for you
    I also like the http://tinyurl.com/y8wqgap/ at the end, like you have it.

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