An open letter to Museum Director’s who don’t get social – by @sumojim

Here is a guest blog post by Jim Richardson (@sumojim and @museumnext)

An open letter to Museum Director’s who don’t get social,

‘I am not on Facebook and I don’t think we should waste time and money on that kind of thing’, this was message from a museum director at the end of a presentation that I’d given about how their institution should be using social media.

I’ve heard this kind of thing before, and I often get emails from people working in museums with a director or manager who has a similar opinion, someone who doesn’t understand the power of social media.

So for all those working in museums who don’t think social media is important to our sector, this is why you are wrong.

1) Just because you’re not on Facebook doesn’t mean that your visitors aren’t, for example in the UK research shows that 79% of people are active on social media websites. The only way to know if Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or even your own website matter to your audiences is to ask them.

2) If you take the time to look at these websites, you are likely to find that people are talking about your museum. By ignoring these social media spaces, you are ignoring the opinions of local audiences, the chance to react and improve based on their feedback.

3) Social Media can be a great marketing tool. While TATE advertise extensively, Facebook is the second biggest source of traffic to their website. It’s also a lot cheaper then an advertising campaign on the London Underground.

4) Social Media should not be seen as a marketing tool. These websites and services have the potential to help museums in a number of ways, including research, fundraising, co-creating content and education.

5) Social Media websites like Facebook and Twitter create communities around brands, interests and places. This can be a powerful platform for a museum to build and engage with it’s own community.

 6) Many museum professionals use Twitter and this social media platform offers the opportunity to connect with others in the sector and to find out more about what other institutions are doing.

7) Social media offers even the smallest institution the opportunity to work with others in the sector to raise the profile of museums and cross promote what we offer. Search for #CultureThemes to find out what the museum community is doing on social media this month.

8 ) Social media lets you take your audiences behind the scenes, connecting members of the public with the passionate experts who work in your institution. In September 2011 an event called Ask a Curator generated over 10,000 messages on Twitter, the majority of those who asked questions said they intended to visit the institutions who had taken the time to answer their questions.

9)  Countless museums and galleries are making use of these websites to great effect, ask your peers how social media is changing the way that they work or look at the way that they are using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.

10) Just try social media, it doesn’t take much to try it and you’re likely to find the vibrant niche communities found on these websites to be an inspiration.

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