by • 31 May, 2011 • People, TechnologyComments (5)11022

What to do if ‘they’ are not online? – 7 actions to promote new media in your museum

Day Two Hundred and Twelve: Computer Humour
Photo by Ally Oop on

“My organisation does not see the importance of social media.” Does this line sound familiar to you? Or, “I’m the only one doing new media, the curators simply don’t care.”

I often hear this line. It was one of the leading themes of questions people posed between sessions at MuseumNext. I believe it’s the responsibility of the new media department to get the rest of the organisation to become active on social media. If ‘they’ are not online, ‘you’ should do something about it.

In this post I’ll address some simple things you can do to make your curators, marketing team, mother and small pets go online. Please add your secret recipes to the comment section.

  1. Make social media useful to ‘them’. Figure out, in open conversation over coffee etc., what your colleagues are looking for personally. An old friend from primary school (Facebook), the e-mail address of an old colleague (LinkedIn), a cheap car (eBay). Surprise them with an email with a link. “I googled around and found this for you.” This will introduce them to the power of new media.
  2. Subscribe to blogs related to expositions and projects your institution is working on, and share links you find online with the people working on the projects. Doesn’t have to be tech-related. Merely the fact the internet can provide stuff ‘they’ didn’t know about increases trustworthiness of the medium.
  3. Report little online successes back to people within the organisation. Good review on Twitter about an expo? Copy and paste the link in an email and make sure to add the influence of the tweep (“Read by her 822 followers and 2 retweets makes a total of 1,206 impressions!”). Use to get stunningly exaggerated but sweet stats to share.
  4. Ask IT or anyone else taking questions the trouble people face. Difficulties finding good images for presentations, copyright struggles, fear of online buzzwords… whatever. Take top topics and host a little 1-hour workshop on the topic, especially about new media’s take on the problem.
  5. After a conference, host a lunch (BYO) with an open invitation to all your colleagues to tell them about the great stuff other museums do. Continuous exposure to best-practices from others will eventually have some effect.
  6. Compose a quarterly report on your online results. Visits, Facebook friends, change in %, the impact of campaigns, the good and bad days and their how and why. Send it to management and share it with your colleagues. Doesn’t have to be perfect the first time, as long as it sends the message that the people you reach online are important to your institution.
  7. Do all of the above for at least 6 months, consistently and persistently, before you give up.

Steve Bridger gave a useful piece of advice at MuseumNext, “Listen, capture and report back to the organisation all small successes.” Steve helps people working for UK’s biggest charities to build valuable online relationships. The above, in a way (as least how I see it), is his job. He knows!

What have you learned about engaging people within your organisation with new media and technology? I’m curious to learn from you!

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