The fifth in our social media series from Louise Winters:
The first question is: To blog or not to blog?
Blogging is a little different from most other social media as it involves writing much longer pieces than Facebook posts or Tweets. You need to be happy writing a complete article (100-500 words is a good length) and repeating this at least once every few weeks.
It is also different in the way people find blog articles. People find blog articles either by searching the internet for specific words or by clicking on a web link to your post shared by either your own social media or another social media user who likes your post. They may also subscribe by email and get updates emailed to them.
Get writing: Why is blogging a good idea?
Are you interested in creating a blog for your museum? Blogging can be a great way to tell more of the stories about your collections, your staff and your museum and it allows you to write more than you can on a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter. You could, for example, write an in depth history of a collection or a specific object. You could also write a series of blog posts giving updates on an ongoing project. A blog is also a good place to share information about events or competitions you want to run to encourage visitors to your museum.
Here is how a blog works to interest people about your museum. People may find your blog articles when they do a Google search for some unusual keywords that are used in your post. Or they’ll find your blog by spotting a web link in a tweet or Facebook post. When they click on the link to your blog they’ll be taken to your museum’s website, will read the blog and may look at other pages on the website. Hopefully this will make them realise they’d like to visit your museum.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you are writing a blog post for your museum:
Keep it to the point and friendly
Before you start writing decide what the main point or message of your blog post is. This will help you stick to one point and give a clear message. Decide what you want your reader to remember. Do you want to let people know about an event on at your museum and encourage them to attend? Do you want to let people know about progress on a fundraising or restoration campaign? Do you want to tell them all about a particular object and why it is interesting?
Also think about how you describe whatever you want to talk about. Are you using words people who’ve never come to the museum before or people who don’t already know about your collections will understand? Often keeping the writing style friendly and not too formal or academic will mean more people will read your blog post.
If you’re used to writing then you probably have developed your own style you’re comfortable with. If you’re not so familiar with writing or even just with writing for a varied audience it is useful to plan and structure your blog post before you start.
Sub headings help your reader quickly scan the post and decide if they’re interested enough to spend 3-5 minutes reading and writing out 2 or 3 sub headings before you start will organise your thoughts and give the reader an overview.
Think up an interesting title
Also think of an interesting title and tell your reader what you’re writing about and why it is relevant to them in the first line. Don’t make them work to figure it out, make it easy for them instead.
Read this article from the Museum of London. The first line tells you why it is interesting; it also has a good title and structure created by the sub headings: https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/discover/roman-rubbish-reveals-lost-londinium?_ga=2.238284096.1985627806.1493748025-1324111825.1491386556
If you’re writing about an event, a collection object, your staff or volunteers then make sure you get some photos to include. In fact, a relatively easy way to ‘write’ a blog post is to choose 5 or more good photos that are related or on a relevant subject and write a short bit of text for each. The photographs structure and tell the outline of the story for you, so all you have to do is describe each photo and come up with an interesting title.
This blog from the Braintree District Museum includes a photograph that connects us to a wonderful story http://www.braintreemuseum.co.uk/the-journey-of-a-wedding-dress/
Share it on social media!
When you start blogging no one else will see what you write unless you share it somehow. It’s unlikely many people will be searching for what you write about and you won’t be listed highly in internet searches unless you pay for Google advertising. No one will know about your blog yet to subscribe to email updates. So the best way is to share your posts using social media. You could use your own personal social media account, but it’s better to share using the museum’s Twitter or Facebook account. So blogging isn’t a great option if you don’t intend to use social media for the museum.
It helps if you think a little bit about how someone will find your blog articles and what they’ll then do if they read one. Will they visit the rest of your website to find out about your wonderful collections, opening hours and how much it will cost to visit? You can link to other useful pages in your blog post to make it easy. People may also decide to follow your museum on Facebook or Twitter because they liked reading a blog post, meaning they’re more likely to see more of your social media and blog content.
It all works like an eco-system, where everything supports the other parts of the network and helps people to find out if they want to come to the museum.
What can you tell us about how people find your museum and what persuades them to visit? We know it isn’t only social media, blogs and websites. Have you used digital and other methods together to tell people more about your museum? Let us know in the comments below.
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