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by • 3 Dec, 2010 • PeopleComments (4)3883

Timing is everything – When do people consume your museum’s new media activities?

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Photo by Diana Hammond.

With the rise of new media a paradigm shift has occurred in the time when people “consume” museums. In the old days people would pick a specific moment to visit a museum. Maybe dress up a bit, make it a day out. On an average they would pick two, maybe three moments a year to spend time with museums. Nowadays, using Twitter and Facebook, we try to make people interact with museums twenty-four seven. They don’t even have to be dressed to “visit” a museum.

By doing so, we’ve entered into the battle for attention of our consumers. And it’s a crowded battlefield.

Timing is essential when it comes to getting an optimal response to your cries for attention. As a museum that is closed on Sundays will miss out on a lot of visitors, a tweet send when all followers are asleep or busy is lost forever. So, when are people most likely to consume a museum’s new media activities?

There’s a lot of (contradictory) stuff been said about when during the week and day you can best send an email newsletter. Most of the data, however, is on making sales. I guess we all have a pretty good idea of when our tweets are best responded to. Nevertheless, Google didn’t help me any further to find museum or cultural sector specific data, so I’ll have to revert to the good old call-to-share.

What have you learned and discovered about the timing of your new media activities?

The following are things I discovered:

  • Tuesday and Thursday are the best days of the week. Most people view, retweet, respond to, participate in or react upon new media activities on these days.
  • Monday’s a good day for photos. Photos posted on a Monday receive more views over the week than photos posted on other days (although this might have to do with the timing of events).
  • Twitter works during the working day, Facebook in the evenings and weekends.
  • 10am is for information, 4pm for participation. Something I need to tell, I tell in the morning. If I want people to do something, I ask them in the afternoon.
  • Friday afternoon is useless. Contrary to what I thought, Friday afternoon activity goes largely unnoticed. It’s even better to schedule things for Friday night than to send them in the afternoon.
  • Routine works, but it doesn’t have to be timed. It really works to do something at regular intervals. For instance: blog every week. But this doesn’t have to be: every week on Tuesday at 10am.

Before I give the comment board to your experiences, I’d like to add that it’s not my intention to find the perfect time to get maximum sales. If we, as museums, ask for people’s attention over new media it should be 1) worth their time, so of genuine interest to our audience and 2) come at the time when it best suits our audience. What I try to understand is when people, dressed or undressed, care most about what we have to share online.

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  • Great post. I think your last point is the most important. “Blogfading” is really common. A project will start with a flurry of posts, and then they trickle out over time. When I start following someone/something, I want consistency. I want to feel confident that this is the beginning of a relationship that could last a long time.

    For institutions in particular, I think it makes sense to clearly state, “this blog is updated every week” or “this project will end in March 2011” so that people have a context for understanding the nature of the communication and can adjust their expectations accordingly.

    Your post also makes me realize that perhaps for updates related to things you can do/see in-person, we should be clear to include open hours in the post itself. Museums do this naturally for events, i.e. “Free concert Tuesday 8pm!,” but I never see, “Killer painting on display 11-6 Tues-Sat.” That might help people move from inspiration to action.

  • Hi Nina, thanks! Whenever I think about “success” with blogging/twitter/anything I believe it comes down to being consistent and persistent. I’ve noticed that when a blog I enjoy reading stops for a while, I’m less likely to continue reading when it starts again.

    I’m curious to see if your suggestions works. Quite often you see stuff like “chat with the staff/some hot shot between x and y” and I wonder if this really draws more people to these websites.

    (About moving from inspiration to action, we’ve all probably read Dustin Curtis’s post on the importance of the right words to get people to follow you on twitter. It’s not timing-related, but worth sharing (again): http://dustincurtis.com/you_should_follow_me_on_twitter.html )

  • Love this! How much data did you base your findings on, out of curiosity?

  • Hi Lindsay,
    This is based on 1.5 years of work, careful tracking of conversion ratios etc. Every three months I produce a detailed report of all our web metrics, including conversion ratios, etc. Unfortunately, I’m not able to share these, but almost everything I write on this blog is based on the things I find just digging through the data.
    All the best!