Museums need to be “social” on social media

I’ve noticed that a lot of museums aren’t really using social media.

Of course, they’ll all be quick to list the sites they have accounts with and use regularly: a Facebook page to post upcoming events, a Pinterest board with pictures of a new exhibit, and a Twitter account that links to news articles written about them.

But too often, museums — even major, well-respected ones — don’t go much further than that. There are no retweets from interesting followers or replies to Facebook comments. There’s hardly any audience engagement. It’s a lot of talking about themselves with little to no attempts to build a relationship with their audience.

And that’s not exactly social media, is it?

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Royalty Free Stock Image | seer on sxc.hu

One-sided communication like this makes a tweet or Facebook post look like nothing more than an advertisement. People don’t use social media to be bombarded with ads; if they’re a follower, they’re most likely already sold.

A recent study from Syncapse found that the top reason people follow companies on Facebook is to show support for the brand. Assuming the same is true with museum accounts, the followers are people who already like the museum, so simply promoting basic event and exhibit information isn’t going to cut it. Basic updates need to be balanced out with attempts at audience engagement. (@Tate, an institution of art galleries in the UK, is a great example of museum marketing done right.) Museums who lack this balance need to start spending a lot more energy developing creative ways to get followers to come back for a visit.

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