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by • 28 Jan, 2010 • People, TechnologyComments (4)2707

What will you do with your new followers?

Next Monday, February 1st, is “follow a museum” day. As there are a lot of museum with quite extraordinary collections, I think it’s worth following one or two for inspiration, information and entertainment. Therefore, I applaud the idea of follow a museum day.

However, I also have my doubts.

Followers seem to be the new currency. The more followers, the better. I strongly disagree. It’s involvement that matters. It’s not about the number of followers a museum has, but about the communication with its audience a museum has.

Jim hinted using Ad.ly Analytics to measure the involvement of your followers. I say 100 involved followers beats 100.000 uninvolved ones. (Read about the “benefits” of being on Twitter’s Suggested Users List by Anil Dash.)

So why try to get more followers? Aim at increasing conversation!

Two examples of starting a conversation with your followers I’d like to share, both from Holland, are Museum Boerhaave’s MBtrail and the Museum of National History’s INNL series (this last institutions pays me, so I don’t claim to be objective.)

Each Friday employees of Museum Boerhaave take their followers on a trail through their museum wonderful collection. Questions about objects or topics are answered and people are triggered to discover more about the museum. Considering the amount of retweets and interaction, the MBtrail engages (a part of) their followers.

The Museum of National History has by now done three INNL interactive history themes, using Twitter to engage people. We take a subject, like winter, and trigger people with historical objects and stories to add their own content. Their contributions are then used to update the “file” on the subject. We reach some 10-20 people intensely with each edition of INNL and many hundreds who read and enjoy the end result.

Internationally, there are other great examples of museum engaging in conversation with their followers over Twitter.

So, with “follow a museum” day coming up, I’d like to ask you: what will you do with your new followers? Will you bombard them with publicity for your institution, or will you focus at increasing conversation with them?

Dea Birkett proposed “follow a visitor” day for museum. This will be March 1st. Another great initiative, but too long after the first. I say: make sure your new followers of next Monday are welcomed with some good engaging conversation. As a museum, do something special next Monday for your new and old followers.

I will think about something to do now. What will you do?

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  • Is it wrong for a museum to want more followers? I don’t believe so, just as it isn’t wrong for them to want thousands of people to experience their collections rather then focusing on a small number of people to whom they could really explain the significance of each and every object.

    Your right to question what will people do with all of these followers, and I think we are seeing the way in which museums are using social networks evolve and become more strategic rather then just being there because everyone else is.

    Follow a Museum Day isn’t the answer to how museums use Twitter, but is may help us to make some noise and persuade more museums and museum directors to take the opportunity that social media offers us seriously.

  • Hi Jim,

    I don’t see Follow a Museum Day as something bad. In fact: I think causing some stir and have people think about the opportunities of social media/Twitter is a great thing to do.

    My point with this post is to have people take sustainable action, not only to get more followers on February 1st, but also on other days.

    I remember a post by Seth Godin (can’t find the link, sorry) where he talked about a charity event he did with Squidoo. After the event, in which he collected money for charity, organisations were asking for another event. Seth stated that it’s better to change your attitude so you can run these kind of events on your own.

    Same with Follow a Museum day. It’s a great event, but participating museums should focus on institutionalising this so every day they get more followers.

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  • Is it wrong for a museum to want more followers? I don’t believe so, just as it isn’t wrong for them to want thousands of people to experience their collections rather then focusing on a small number of people to whom they could really explain the significance of each and every object.

    Your right to question what will people do with all of these followers, and I think we are seeing the way in which museums are using social networks evolve and become more strategic rather then just being there because everyone else is.

    Follow a Museum Day isn’t the answer to how museums use Twitter, but is may help us to make some noise and persuade more museums and museum directors to take the opportunity that social media offers us seriously.