HELP … with keeping social media running for your museum

The ninth and final in our social media series by Louise Winters.

What can you do if none of the current staff or volunteers has the time or confidence to run a social media account for the museum? At a lot of smaller museums, someone at the museum asks one of their children or a younger friend to help out. Or there may be a few of you who are able to help, but none of you have enough time to do it alone.

As long as it works for the people doing it and the social media reflects the museum positively, in a way staff, volunteers and visitors are happy with that is fine. What you may find more difficult is co-ordinating between you.

Whoever helps out with social media has to have a steady stream of information about the museum, what is happening, who else works there and what kinds of things visitors like to see. If they’re not at the museum regularly they will struggle to write up enough different and interesting posts. If more than one person works on social media then you need a schedule for who is posting what and when.

Talk about it!

All people involved in social media and at least one other person who works at the museum should meet up regularly to talk about ideas for posts and agree them. This is especially important if the person or people looking after social media aren’t staff or don’t do volunteer work there. How else will they know about what is going on for your museum, or what everyone else gets excited about?

Photographs

Once you have ideas for posts, think about what photographs, videos or gifs might be good to illustrate them. You don’t have to decide yet, but if you want to take photographs of an exhibition during set up you’ll need to check with whoever is in charge and plan when you can do it. If you need to ask permission to take and share photographs it is useful to think about it ahead of time.

You can also access photographs that are completely free to use and don’t require the author to be credited (useful for Twitter where you often don’t have room for acknowledgments). Websites like

https://unsplash.com/

https://www.pexels.com/

allow you to search for and use photographs. You can also upload your own photographs and let other people use them for free.

Lastly you can search for animated pictures (or gifs) that are free to use on social media using Giphy (instructions on how to use giphy can be found here: https://giphy.com/faq).

Scheduling & publishing

Once you’ve agreed some ideas and figured out how you can get photographs, note down what you’ve agreed and who is doing what. The two simplest ways to do this are to set up an online calendar or a spreadsheet (something like Google Sheets is free and can be accessed by several people at once) that lists out your ideas for each week and who is responsible.

You will find you have lots of ideas for the next week or so, and then fewer as you get further away from now. Everyone will be able to see when you are running low on ideas. If you have a brilliant idea for Christmas then write it down, even if it’s only May! You’ll also have ideas that are spontaneous and need to be done on that day.

For things you can plan, think about scheduling your posts in advance. Facebook lets you do this directly from its website or mobile app. Twitter doesn’t, but you can use a free tool like Hootsuite to let you schedule your posts for a time in the future.

Review what you’re doing

Once you’ve started, do look at things like your number of fans / followers, the number of people who like your posts, the number of people who retweet or reshare your posts and how many people reply to your posts on social media. You will start to learn which kinds of posts people seem to respond to best and start to see how your hard work is paying off as more people find and follow your social media.

Okay, if you’ve now read all 9 of the blog posts on setting up social media firstly: thank you for reading! Secondly, what are you waiting for? Get ‘social media-ing’ for your museum 😉

http://gph.is/11EoofF

If you have any questions or ideas for things you’d like to read more about on using social media then please share them in the comments below. Also if you have any success stories or anything that worked really well please share those too, it would be great to hear them.

Please do get in touch, I love saying hello:

On Twitter: @pinkyandnobrain

By Email: me@louisewinters.com

On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louisewinters/

My website: http://louisewinters.com/

Rising Tide: Navigating the Future of Cultural Learning

Royal Opera House Bridge Annual Conference 2017

Chatham Historic Dockyard, 29.06.2017

I’m lucky enough in this role to attend training pretty often and I often see inspirational people discuss the importance of the work of the heritage sector and hear incredible case studies. I won’t write about all of them, but I did want to share what I learnt at Rising tide: Navigating the Future of Cultural Learning, the annual conference of Royal Opera House Bridge. This conference interrogated the role of cultural education, from dance to museums and opera to archives.

We’re all busy people, so I’ll try and keep this blog short and I haven’t included all the sessions. If you’d like to chat about anything below, just get in touch. The Royal Opera House Bridge will be publishing resources from the day, so check out their website for more details.

Why Tomorrow’s Children Need a 21st Century Enlightenment (Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive, Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce)

Matthew kicked off the conference by taking us back to the 1700s and the Age of Enlightenment. He described the three key ideas that shaped the Enlightenment:

  1. Autonomy – we are the authors of our own future and not in a chain of control that was preordained and we must simply accept our fate in life.
  2. Universalism – all humans deserve dignity.
  3. Humanism – purpose of all human endeavour is to liberate and enrich human life.

These ideas have become narrowed over time. Autonomy doesn’t just mean a free market, universalism isn’t just a metric of social justice and humanism isn’t controlled through the economy. We must revisit these values to bring them up to date:

  1. True autonomy requires self-awareness and self-discipline… not through shopping.
  2. Universalism is about empathy and engaging with those whose beliefs and ideas are different to ours.
  3. We need to identify what a good life is to understand humanism. What are we working towards?

Engagement in the creation and enjoyment of culture helps us understand these ideas.

So what is the role of cultural education? Cultural education makes three assertions:

  1. Citizens have a right to access their own, their countries’ and the world’s culture.
  2. Cultural education supports young people to develop positive ways of shaping society (and we need a robust way of measuring this impact that will appeal to budget holders).
  3. Cultural education has a role in preparing us for our future.

We are starting to move into a late material culture, with more people stating that self-expression is more important than what they own. People are coming of age in a sluggish economy and don’t expect to own more and better things than their parents. It should be our ambition to ensure that everyone has ‘good’ work with scope for development and a sense of purpose. If we shift into this new kind of economy, cultural education will be more important than ever.

To Lift All Ships (Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive, Education Endowment Foundation)

Sir Kevan challenged the conference with a series of provocations, but made the assertion that when people want to challenge the world, they turn to culture.

  1. Are we creating a boring and irrelevant education for children?
  2. Should we be concerned that creative subjects are becoming sidelined into extra-curricular activities for the middle-classes? For many people the educational system seems broken and there isn’t time to focus on anything but ‘core subjects’. Is this true, or is this argument to trick us into giving schools to other people to run?
  3. Is the word ‘culture’ being appropriated by people who see education as either skills for knowledge. Through setting culture as ‘knowledge’ are they able to decide what counts as culture?
  4. How can a child spend 13 years in education and fail? Huge numbers of children are failing to get a level 2 (e.g. GCSE) qualification.
  5. As the education offered to children narrows, how do we demonstrate the contribution that culture makes?

Most job growth in Britain and the world doesn’t require just one subject but needs people with broader life skills, for example relationship development, empathy and creative problem solving. A strong cultural education builds these kind of skills and supports the core subjects.

We must implement a scientific approach to measure the impact of cultural education, disseminate what we’ve learnt from projects and mobilise good projects nationally.

Empathy Lab (Miranda McKearney, social entrepreneur and co-founder of Empathy Lab and Sarah Mears, Library Manager for Essex and co-founder of Empathy Lab)

Miranda and Sarah argued that in an increasingly diverse world children must be able to thrive in diverse environments. Empathy and social skills are being squeezed out of education and these are vital to children’s attainment at school and preparation for their futures.

Research has shown that children must see and experience empathy to develop these skills. Socio-emotional skills cannot be a bolt-on but can be embedded in a child’s wider education. The Empathy Lab is trialling developing empathy skills through reading, which is at the core of educational programming in schools.

Empathy can be divided into psychological and physiological:

  1. Psychological Empathy:
    1. Cognitive – understanding that someone is upset
    2. Affective – feeling upset when someone is sad
    3. Empathetic concern – wanting to help someone in need
  2. Physiological Empathy:
    1. Endocrine system
    2. Mirror-neurons

If you’re interested in reading more about the scientific side of Empathy, check out the Empathy Lab’s website for resources.

Academics are starting to understand the relationship between reading and developing empathy. Just as the brain responds to words for smells, touches, etc as if you were smelling and touching something, your brain responds to stories as if was the real world. This means that the way we feel empathy for characters in stories, wires our brain to feel the same sensitivity for real people. This means that children can learn empathy from reading.

The Empathy Lab is trialling different approaches in schools, asking children to read books, look at how the characters felt and naming those feelings and then asking them to build this into actions. For example a group of children read a story about refugees, explored how it would feel to be a child refugee and then wrote letters to child refugees and politician. The children involved moved forward with literacy, family involvement and classroom relationships.

The Empathy Lab are looking to extend this work to museums, so watch this space.

Events and Activities at your Museum

The eighth in our social media series by Louise Winters.

We have fun stuff happening at our museum!

You’re probably already thinking about using social media to tell people about events at your museum. It’s an obvious topic and social media is perfect for it.

If you’ve already tried it, you may have found that you post one or two messages about an event and no-one seems to take any notice. A really useful tip is to remember you can (and should!) make several posts about the same event or activity over the course of a few days or even a few weeks.

One post isn’t visible for long as other people are posting on social media all the time, so repeating the message is important. Also, people often need to see or hear the same thing a few times before they can take on board new information. It’s fine to tell people several times! You can vary the message slightly by rephrasing or using a different photograph, but keep the core message the same.

How to write posts on events & activities:

  1. Basic event details

People want to know when, where and how to get involved. A great way to share this is to share a digital version of event posters or create your own digital poster. Attach this poster to every tweet, Facebook post and blog post and then there’s not excise for people to be confused about the basic information. Also write out the basic information in some of your posts to make sure it can’t be missed.

Ever head of Museum Dance Off? Not strictly an event designed for visitors to join in, but it does create many possibilities for silliness on social media 😉 Brooklands Museum in Surrey created an excellent poster to encourage followers to vote for them:

  1. Convey WHY people want to join in

Basic information is good, but I’ll easily ignore it or forget about it if I don’t know WHY I want to join in. Go back to the list you made in our first post in this series: what kind of people visit or could visit your museum? What kinds of people is this activity for and what will they get from joining in?

The Museum Explorer Passport trail is a good example of an activity to use:

Kinds of people What they get from joining in
Parents 1.       Ideas for activities to keep the kids entertained
  2.       A bit of peace while the kids explore the museum
Young children 3.       See and explore cool stuff in the museum
  4.       Enjoy a game of collecting stickers or stamps in their museum passport
Older children 5.       Competition element with friends (who can get the most stamps?)
   

Your social media posts can tell different types of people what they’ll enjoy. Each point on your list is an idea for one social media post, so in the list about there are already 5 different subjects for posts. Of course you can explain each point in different ways so you will already have a long list of posts for your social media, all about just one activity going on at the museum.

Going back to Brooklands Museum, they created posts about their Museum Dance Off entry over several weeks and they made it clear why people would want to get involved: to laugh at their daft video and help them win the competition.

Encourage interaction with visitors on social media

Specific events or activities are a great opportunity to ask visitors to interact with you on social media. If photography is allowed in your museum let visitors know at the event that you’d be very happy if they take a selfie, post it and tag your museum so you can find it later. Have you heard of #museumselfie on Twitter? The official Museum Selfie Day is on January 18th, but you can use it or ask visitors to use it any time!

And your staff and volunteers can get involved … https://twitter.com/NatGalleryCan/status/821822649072578560

Other ways you can encourage people to interact are to ask questions: both on social media and to people at the museum for the event. If you’re asking people in person, check they are happy for you to share what they say on social media and make it into a post.

Ideas for questions:

  • What are you looking forward to at the event? (before it happens)
  • Do you know anyone who’d love this? Please share with them!
  • What did you like best about the event? (after it happens)

Have you come up with any interesting ways to encourage visitors to interact with you on social media? Please share in the comments below if you have.

Please do get in touch, I love saying hello:

On Twitter: @pinkyandnobrain

By Email: me@louisewinters.com

On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louisewinters/

My website: http://louisewinters.com/

 

Involve Museum staff and volunteers in social media

The seventh in our social media series from Louise Winters.

When you’re looking for ideas for your museum’s social media, people who already love your museum are a brilliant source of inspiration.

Your museum’s staff and volunteers are the easiest place to start. They love the museum and they know it well. The people that help to run the museum make it what it is as much as the collections and objects. You may even get them to share any posts you write about them to their own Facebook or Twitter networks so they’re seen by a bigger audience. Even if they don’t use social media they’ll probably enjoy getting involved.

How can I involve them?

Here are some simple ideas for social media posts about the fantastic people that help to run your museum (and yes, that includes you!)

  • Photographs of staff and volunteers at work in the museum.
  • Say thank you! Post a big thank you to volunteers for their work at an event or on a specific project or even just on a busy bank holiday.
  • Ask about a colleague’s favourite object and why they like it and use this for a post with their name and a photo of them with the object (check with them they are okay with this before you do it).
  • Post a happy birthday message for a colleague on their birthday (do ask their permission first).
  • Ask a colleague how they got involved in the museum and share their story in a blog a condensed version for social media.
  • Ask colleagues about their favourite other museums to visit and write up into a short post, don’t forget to tag the museum on social media if they use it.

Some examples to show you how other museums are doing this:

 

 

 

 

 

All posts you create that are inspired by a specific colleague should include the name of the person you are talking about and tag them on the relevant social media network, if they use it. The general public like to get to know who works at the museum and find out more about them. Human beings are nosey and like knowing a bit about the real people that work in a place.

Have you ever looked at social media for the National Trust for Scotland? They’ve even set up a Twitter account to talk about volunteering and encourage volunteers to share photos of the things they enjoy doing.

 

Social media is a really good way to make sure everyone knows how important your volunteers are, and showing appreciation for your museum staff is equally important.

I’ve asked if colleagues want to get involved and not had a good response

It’s useful to remember that your colleagues often won’t realise that their own interests and stories are interesting. Their enthusiasm for the museum and working there is infectious – if you can show that they care about the museum then others who see that will care too. Be patient and keep showing colleagues what you’d like from them. That may be to share photographs they take with you or it may be to have a chat for 10 minutes about their favourite object.

Your mission is to find out what makes them light up and find a way to share that with all those potential visitors. Think about which kinds of people will find your colleague’s story interesting and aim your post at those people. Ask your colleague to share with their family and friends on social media and see what kind of response you get.

Last piece of advice: try not to be disheartened if your posts don’t immediately get a huge response. Your social media efforts will gradually build up likes and responses as you keep posting regularly. Reassure your colleagues that their help is really important for creating interesting posts.

Please do get in touch, I love saying hello:

On Twitter: @pinkyandnobrain

By Email: me@louisewinters.com

On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louisewinters/

My website: http://louisewinters.com/

Content Ideas for Social Media

The sixth in our social media series from Louise Winters.

Lots of people like doughnuts_v2

Using your museum’s collection as inspiration

If you’ve got your social media profiles all set up and you find yourself thinking “What on earth do I post about 5 times a week?” you are not alone. This is usually the most difficult bit of managing social media.

First thing to do is turn to what you have around you in the museum. Curating a collection is all about telling the story of your exhibits to preserve them and the stories around them for the future and your collection is a fantastic source of stories to share on social media.

Try picking a different object in your collection each week to highlight on social media. You’ll need:

  • A good photo of the object
  • An interesting fact or part of the story around this object that your followers will like
  • To write up a short bit of text for a Facebook / Twitter post that tells the fact / story
  • OR to write up a longer description for a blog telling visitors a bit about the story of the object

Here’s an example from Worthing Museum: https://twitter.com/WorthingMuseum/status/846402992811184129

How can I choose which objects to feature?

Even if your museum is small you may have a lot of exhibits: how do you know where to start? Here’s a few ideas.

  • Ask your staff what their favourite objects are and why they like them and feature one per week.
  • Ask some of your visitors each week to say what their favourite exhibit is and use their choices. Don’t forget to ask if they use social media and mention them or link to them in your post.
  • Think about events coming up at your museum, any new exhibits or collections, any important patrons and choose objects that are linked to write up a post about.
  • Think about what is going on outside the museum – any school or national holidays coming up (bank holidays, Christmas, Easter), anything seasonal (e.g. snowy weather, spring flowers), anything in the news or any TV shows that your museum is relevant to and choose objects that are linked.

The Essex Fire Museum posted some archive photos of female officers on International Women’s Day: https://www.facebook.com/pg/EssexFireMuseum/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1001441896656224

As an example of something a bit different: Social media for the Tate galleries talk about the weather using paintings from their collections https://twitter.com/Tate/status/822414664306950144

Ask yourself what will be interesting to people who might come to visit? What can you have some fun with to catch the attention of social media users? How can you catch the attention of people who wouldn’t normally visit your museum and cultivate a more diverse audience for your museum?

How do I tell the story in only a few words?

As you’ll know if you’ve read the blogs on writing for Facebook & Twitter, you need to be concise! On Twitter you only have 140 characters and on Facebook only the first part of your post will be shown in the timeline.

Here’s a few thoughts to help you keep your information about the object concise:

  • Definitely include a photo of the object in your post so followers can see the object
  • Remember you don’t have to write in a formal way
  • Pick a few evocative or interesting words that describe your object and focus on them
  • Try describing the object in 5 words only, this way you don’t need to write a full sentence, you could just write the 5 words and invite followers to comment on your photo and share their own 5 word descriptions.

Let us know how you get and share your own thoughts on how to create content for social media for your museum on by leaving a comment below.

Please do get in touch, I love saying hello:

On Twitter: @pinkyandnobrain

By Email: me@louisewinters.com

On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louisewinters/

My website: http://louisewinters.com/

Brilliant blog posts for your museum!

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.

Structure it

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

Include photos

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.

SM_ecosystem

 

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.

Please do get in touch, I love saying hello:

On Twitter: @pinkyandnobrain

By Email: me@louisewinters.com

On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louisewinters/

My website: http://louisewinters.com/

 

 

Museums Association Conference: Bursaries for First-Time Attendees

Essex Museum Development

Debating modern ethics Debating modern ethics at the Museums Association Conference, 2014

**STOP PRESS** – DEADLINE EXTENDED TO MIDNIGHT, FRIDAY 7TH JULY

I am able to offer two bursaries for first-time attendees to this November’s Museums Association Conference. The three-day annual MA Conference is the biggest gathering of museum staff and volunteers in the country and is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the work other organisations are doing, discuss issues affecting the sector and meet colleagues from around the country (and the world!).

Alongside the Conference is a “Marketplace” where you can meet suppliers of museum services and equipment. There are also usually fringe events such as tweet-ups, networking dinners and “unconference” break-out sessions.

Each bursary is targeted at a different area of the workforce:

  • Established professional

Those who have been in paid employment in the sector for more than 7 years (i.e. who began work before November 2010). This could…

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