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Food Chain. Photo by Pieter Pieterse.

by • 17 Sep, 2010 • Technology, Thoughts about museumsComments (5)4194

Stop talking, start sending – The information food chain and how museums should use Twitter

I read a newspaper. I read a newspaper because I believe a bunch of highly educated people are better at sorting through the myriad pieces of news the world produces daily than I am. My newspaper even prints the best tweet out of 90 million sent every day, that’s how good they are.

Newspapers don’t converse. Newspapers send information. And it’s good they do so, because they’re high up in the information food chain.

By now thousands of museums are on Twitter cs. There they sit and chat and retweet each other and make good initiatives trending worldwide. They’ve been told Twitter (and Facebook, blogs, etc.) is a conversation channel, not a publicity channel. They’ve been told to listen, not to send. So they desperately try to engage in conversation and mostly chat with each other.

Museums on Twitter shouldn’t converse. They should send information. That’s because museums, like newspapers, are high up in the information food chain. Maybe even higher up than newspapers.

I don’t say museums should use Twitter to shamelessly publicise their events and opening hours. I mean they should sort through the millions of tweets, status updates, blogposts, etc. to pick the best things and share these in a meaningful way with their audience. They should respect their position in the information food chain.

Information food chain

Original photo by Ian Westcott on Flickr.

How to use Twitter as a museum

So, here’s how I think museums should use Twitter cs:

  1. Determine the “colour” of the information you will send to your followers. Like different newspapers, museums have different voices too. Finish the sentence, ‘We will tell you only the very best and latest about…’
  2. Install all possible alerts on words related to the information you’ve decided to send. Also, follow the right blogs, influential tweeps, facebook pages, everything that does some of the work down the line in the information food chain.
  3. Determine how often and when you will send information. And how you’ll mix news, videos, photos, essays, opinions and every thing else.
  4. From all the information that comes up through the information food chain, select the very best for your topic and share it, by your guidelines, with your followers.
  5. Be consistent and persistent.

Museums are considered trustworthy sources of information. They’re expected to have the very best art/heritage/whatever, display it to the public and be right about it. So should they be on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere.

Of course museums are also expected to be helpful and friendly. Doing the above can never mean you don’t respond to questions of your followers anymore. You should. All it means is we should claim our position and stop begging for conversation. Stop talking, start sending!

P.S. A great example of how to do it right, imho, is the blog Open Culture. Every day this blog shares the very best on free literature, culture, arts and science. I consider them an authority, yet always quick with a reply.

Header photo by Pieter Pietserse on Flickr.

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