How to Write a Post for Facebook

The third in our social media series from Louise Winters:

Fabulous Facebook posts for your museum

Whether you have a personal Facebook account or not, it can be a bit daunting to start writing posts for your museum’s Facebook page. If you do already use Facebook at least you have an idea how it works and what kind of things other organisations post. Even so, it is a different thing to be posting on behalf of an organisation instead of just for yourself.

If you don’t normally use Facebook then the whole thing may seem really difficult. If you’re in this situation, try asking a friend or neighbour who does use Facebook to show you how it works before you sit down to write your first post.

Get writing: What is normal on Facebook and what isn’t?

One of the really nice things about Facebook (and all other social media) is that it can be fun and informal. It isn’t like a press release or a newspaper article. Social media is for short, friendly, eye-catching updates that let you get to know what someone or an organisation is REALLY like. The other brilliant thing about social media is that your followers can talk back by leaving comments. This is great: you should encourage people to reply to your posts and always reply to any comments and messages you get from followers.

Here are the three things, in order of importance, to keep in mind when creating a post for Facebook:  be FRIENDLY, make it CATCHY and keep it SHORT.

1/ FRIENDLY
• Your post should be friendly and talk to people as if you know them. Your aim is to make them feel welcome before they’ve even set foot in your museum.
• You don’t have to be formal and start with ‘Dear all’ or ‘Dear Visitors’ as you might in a letter or email.
• Do use ‘We’ when writing posts instead of I. You are writing on behalf of the museum, which is a collection of people so ‘we’ is better
• Write about things that are ‘behind the scenes’ or that show there are real people at the museum e.g. exhibition set up, birthday cake for a colleague or views you enjoy.

Lovely sunny spring post by Chelmsford museum:

http://bit.ly/2qRqPcW

• Ask questions to encourage a conversation – don’t be disheartened if no one replies at first. It can take a while, but keep asking. E.g. “We really enjoyed today’s event, what was your favourite bit?”
• Say thank you to people. For example: thank you for coming to an event, for helping to raise money, for volunteering at the museum or for replying to your posts.

Here are 2 examples that show the friendly side of museums:
https://www.facebook.com/chelmsfordmuseums/photos/a.440481002658800.99515.104334979606739/1657203684319853/?type=3&theater
https://www.facebook.com/museumbraintree/photos/a.404737529547592.86988.202985223056158/1468412493180085/?type=3&theater

2/ CATCHY
• Use interesting and eye catching words that really tell a story about whatever you’re trying to write about. “Beautiful glass vase” is more interesting than “Nice vase”.
• Use easy to understand words as you don’t know who will be reading your posts.
• Include photographs or videos as they catch people’s attention more than words alone. Be careful to credit the author if you use someone else’s video or photograph.
• You can also try searching for gifs (animated pictures) and emoji to brighten up your post.
• If you link to an article or blog post online Facebook will usually show the article title in the weblink preview so you can focus on giving new / extra information.
Examples showing museums being catchy by using descriptive words (“fantastic”, “sister, wife, lover, mother”) and photos:
https://www.facebook.com/museumbraintree/photos/a.404737529547592.86988.202985223056158/1473422179345783/
https://www.facebook.com/southendmuseums/posts/1864464276912550

3/ SHORT
• Get the most interesting bit in the first line. Don’t build up to it because Facebook often only shows a few lines with an option to click to see the rest.
• People skim through their Facebook feed quickly so make sure you’re friendly, but to the point. Ideally don’t write more than 4 lines.
• Including a photo, a gif or a video is a good way to convey an idea immediately. Make sure the photo, gif or video is relevant.
• If you find you often want to write long posts, consider writing blog posts to go up on your museum’s website and then sharing a link with a photo and a 1 line introduction or summary on the Facebook page.

Good examples of short, to the point posts with great photos and a photographer credit where necessary:
https://www.facebook.com/epolicemuseum/photos/a.111531825582471.12468.107798892622431/1239553546113621/?type=3&theater
https://www.facebook.com/TelegraphMuseumPorthcurno/photos/a.222240081120101.67350.187033977974045/1455608367783260/?type=3&theater

Keep writing –  Things to avoid doing:

Hopefully the tips and examples above will help you get started or increase your confidence when writing Facebook posts. Social media is informal and mostly very forgiving of the odd mistake, however there are a few things to think about to avoid causing offence and making your museum look bad:
• Don’t let people forget about you. Posting 1-2 times a day is a good amount. If you can’t post that much then a minimum of 2-3 times per week is good to aim for.
• Don’t use someone else’s intellectual property without their permission and without crediting them, especially photographs.
• Be wary of posting photographs of children without parental consent, even if you took them.
• Don’t share information that is private or shouldn’t be in the public domain.
• Think carefully about what you post and ensure it isn’t offensive and remember that something you consider funny may be seen as an insult by others.

Now you’re armed with some simple tips for how to write a great Facebook post: Good luck! Do you have any tips of your own to share or any posts where you got a really good response? Please share them 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/

 

Use Social Media to be a Part of the Local Community

The second in our social media series from Louise Winters:

It’s really easy to think of social media as something you do to tell everyone about your museum. Social media is also a way for people to talk to you, tell you what they’re interested in, ask questions about your museum or the work you do.

The fact that it can be a two way conversation way makes social media very different from traditional PR and it’s a much more approachable way to reach out to potential visitors. Through social media, your visitors are much more likely to see you and other volunteers / staff as people like them.  Listening to what other people say or post is an important as what you say or post.

giphy

What does community mean to you?

Why do you work at the museum? Do you volunteer your time or you work at the museum because you’re interested in the history of the objects, people and organisations your museum is working hard to preserve and share? Are you interested in the local area and the local people and maybe you like seeing children enjoy the museum? What other things motivate you?

 

Lots of people who like doughnuts

Answering these questions about you and your colleagues can help you figure out who / what is part of the community of your museum. And these are people and organisations who may want to talk to you on social media. Some examples:

  • Staff & volunteers
  • Visitors or supporters you
  • Charitable organisations your museum or colleagues support
  • Local schools
  • Organisations or local businesses whose work & stories your museum documents or links to
  • People or organisations who’ve donated to your museum, sponsored events or added to its collection

They’re all part of your community and you can use social media to follow as many of them as you can find on there. Once you have your own social media channel set up (it could be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – it doesn’t matter which):

  1. Write down a list of people & organisations for your museum by using the list above
  2. Look to see if they use social media and follow them if they do. If they don’t you can try to find a website for any organisations.
  3. ‘Like’ any social media posts they make that you think are interesting, especially if it has an obvious relevance to your museum
  4. Re-share interesting posts from those you followed (this is retweeting their posts on Twitter or Sharing their posts on Facebook)
  5. Post positive replies on their posts (e.g. “We love your photos” or “Good luck to everyone involved in the event”)
  6. Take photographs if you visit another interesting organisation and share on your social media account with, tagging it with their social media name.
  7. Share the link to blog posts written by other organisations or people , if you think they’re interesting or relevant to your museum.

Interact

Why should I spend time talking about what someone else is doing?

The great thing is while you’re talking about someone else who is important in your community you’re also promoting your museum. Because social media is public potential visitors (and many other people) will see you talking about other organisations they like. They may never have heard of your museum before and you may not know they’re out there, but this will give them a reason to notice you and maybe come into your museum.

Those you talk to and promote on social media are also more likely to follow your social media and then share your posts, so your posts will then be seen by more people. It works in the same way you make friends: if people realise that you and they have something in common, they’ll take more of an interest in what you do and what you’re interested in.

And so your social media community begins to grow … and grow … and soon it will take over the world. Mwuahahahahaha! Ah, sorry, I mean it will help you find more visitors and help more people appreciate the excellent and hard work that goes into running your museum 😉  Almost as good as taking over the world, isn’t it?

Do you have any suggestions on how to be a part of the local community using social media? We’d love to hear them and they may be really helpful to other museums so please share them 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/

INTO Museums: Why Use Social Media?

Welcome to the first of a series of posts by social media expert, Louise Winters.

Louise is endlessly fascinated by people and their stories and loves seeing and helping people using social media to share things they care about. Her experience includes working in a social media agency with corporate clients across Europe, but now much prefers working with the public sector and small businesses as they’re a lot more friendly! She now manages social media and blogs for various clients, as well as offering training to get other started.

 

Why do you want to use social media for your museum? It can seem like a distraction from the core job of running the museum every day, especially if you’re not sure how to use it or why it is useful.

The main reason to use social media is to bring people into your museum. It is great because you don’t need an advertising budget to use it, just some time to set it up and post updates regularly. By posting on social media or writing blogs you give people who wouldn’t normally come to your museum a chance to find out about you without even having to leave their homes.

If you consider their point of view, why would someone decide to visit your museum? What would interest them and what might stop them from realising how much they’d enjoy it? The answers to those questions will be different for different types of people (for example, parents with small children, teachers who want to inspire their students, older people who’re interested in local history). Because you post small bits of information often, you can use social media to share things that are interesting to these different groups of people. Once they know your museum is interesting to them, they’re more likely to want to visit.

I don’t know that much about social media – can I really help?

Yes! You can! You know all about the museum: why the collections are valuable, how important it is to preserve the stories the museum and its collections tell for future generations and what people will find fascinating, educational or fun. No one will know about your museum if you don’t tell them and social media potentially allows you to share your enthusiasm with so many people!

So your main reason for using social media is to share the enthusiasm and passion of people already ‘into’ museums (like you) to get other people to realise they’re ‘into’ your museum. Once they understand why it matters to them they’ve got a reason to physically get into your museum.

Image for blog 1

Who do you want to talk to?

As well as knowing why you’re using social media, you also want to know who you most want to talk to using it. This will help you write your posts with relevant groups of people in mind. It is fine to write one post aimed at parents and the next one aimed at older people who live locally. Here’s a simple exercise to help you figure out which kinds of visitors you’re most interested in appealing to and what will attract their attention.

1/ Which age group visits your museum most?

  • Write this down and think about what would be interesting to that age group (for children also consider what will interest their parents)
  • Which age group do you wish would visit the museum more?

2/ What do you think visitors enjoy about your museum?

  • What types / ages of people enjoy each thing?
  • How can you demonstrate to a person in one of these groups that they’ll probably enjoy it too?

3/ What do your colleagues like best about your museum?

  • Write this down for all your colleagues and think about the type of person or age group your different colleagues represent.
  • How can you share your colleagues’ enthusiasm with new people?

4/ How are your museum’s collections relevant to the everyday lives of people who live nearby?

  • What kinds of things are most relevant to different types of people?
  • How can you share and show that to people who have never visited the museum?

5nr/ For the different types of people you’ve identified above:

  • What might put them off visiting the museum? Can you change this? If yes, how and how can you tell them about it?

If you need a head start on thinking about different age groups or types of people here’s a list: Primary school age children, Secondary school age children, Parents who live locally, Further / Higher Education students, Young adults from the area, Tourists, Older people who live locally

Tell stories about your museum to specific types of people

I guarantee you won’t have answers to all those questions. That is absolutely fine! Whatever you’ve written down will be useful. Social media works best when you have an idea who you’re trying to talk to for 2 reasons (i) you can focus different posts on different types of people with different interests (ii) it gives you some inspiration for social media posts by thinking about what previous visitors or colleagues enjoy about the museum.

The things you’re enthusiastic about are a good indication of what other people will get enthusiastic about. Think about it from the perspective of a few different types of people and you’ve got a great start on stories to share that will make people want to come see what your museum is all about!

 

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/

Curator of the Future: Part 2

Curator of the Future: Part 2

Last week, I blogged about the British Museum “The Curator of the Future” Conference. In part 1, I discussed their “Curatorial Survivial Kit”. Now I’ll look at the “Curator and Digital” and “Next Generation” sessions.

  • Curators and Digital

Chris Michaels, Head of Digital and Publishing at the British Museum set the scene after lunch by asking how curation has changed in this age of “digital enlightenment”.

Originally the museum team was focused on Neil MacGregor “History of the World in 100 Objects” books, so the success of the podcasts took them by surprise (and Chris admitted that if they’d known how well they’d work, they would have done things slightly differently!). People listened at home, on the move and even downloaded them to listen in front of the objects in the museum. The moral? It’s nearly impossible to predict which emerging platforms are going to be a hit, so it’s a good idea to experiment and make things available in as many ways as your budget, capacity and imagination will allow.

Selfies, wifi etc change how people interact with museums and how we and they share that experience. Behind the scenes sharing. Presenting more of our collections to a much wider audience.

Anra Kennedy from Culture 24’s presentation was asked if your use of digital technology is “Fit for the Future”. At the moment we have a “supply orientated approach” – this is the information we want to share with you and this is how we’re going to do so. This isn’t working. Museums need to research what their audiences (and potential audiences) want, would be interested in and how to get it to the,. This will require a multi-platform approach using the social web (Twitter, Facebook etc), on-site provision and mobile provision such as podcasts.

Last year, if you take out the stats for “adult” sites, 0.08per cent of all web traffic went to the sites of the 700 largest cultural organisations. That sounds quite positive, until you realise that the same percent were visiting same as B&Q!

Museum’s need to have an online presence that’s engaging and playful as well as informative. Anra gave several examples including Show Me, a project for 7 to 14 year olds working with teachers, and the partnership project VanGoYourself.com. This project encourages people re-create scenes from Van Gogh’s artworks and share them via social media. This has been very popular, particularly amongst hipsters, and won the “Museum and the Web” Exhibition and People’s Choice awards.

Anra also talked about. She stressed how important it is for museums to share good images online – high resolution and high quality, labelled with information about their availability for use and information about what they depict. Images should be “usable, reusable and shareable”.

I particularly liked Anra’s suggestion that websites can be “living labs” where you can experiment and change. By playing with layouts, language/tone, how functions are displayed, showing related content (or not), you can learn about how your online visitors use your site, what they like and what might work better.

Zoe Hughes is Curator of Fossil Invertebrates at the Natural History Museum, and she presented on a pet-subject of mine: Why Curators Should Tweet

Sick of being told “most people don’t care about your collections”, Zoe wondered is it that they don’t care or is it that they don’t know? She began tweeting to connect with academic researchers in her field and to raise awareness of collections, organisation and the curator’s role.

What she’s found is that only a tiny amount of her Twitter followers are her original target audience of “researchers in her field” – only 0.03 per cent. A lot are other museums but there are members of the public too. Her content is very different to what she’d originally envisioned too, as a lot of her work involves being at a computer and it’s hard to make that interesting in a tweet. Instead, she shares:

  • Photos of interesting objects as she finds them (this means she carries her smartphone with her in the stores to photograph and then share)
  • Information and images that link to popular hashtags (#FossilFriday ties in very well!)
  • Some information about what she’s doing (eg outreach, field work etc)
  • Questions and answers about the collections

Zoe raised the interesting quandary of popularity vs engagement. What does it really mean if people “like” or “follow” your content? How do you measure, record and report this data? They’re good questions and, sadly, currently without definitive answers.

(You can follow Zoe on Twitter: @NHM_Cephalopoda)

  • The Next Generation

Sadly, I had to leave after Rachel Souhami excellent introduction to this section of the programme. Rachel is a Museum Academic and Consultant who was involved in the 2014 “Future of Museums” conference which asked early career professionals to be idealistic about the future of the sector, leading to the creation of a Manifesto for the Future of Museums.

This document has been described by those  higher up in museums “nothing new”. These are the same issues that we’ve all been talking about for years. Rachel quite rightly challenges “If this is what you’ve been talking about for years, why haven’t you changed anything?”

Rachel has made a list suggestions for senior museum professionals who want this change to happen:

1 Stop talking about “the museum sector” – there is so much variety in what we do and how we do it, that we cannot be described as a cohesive whole

2 Ensure a cogent, collective leadership

3 Engage with emerging museum professionals

4 Remind emerging professionals to be proactive in seeking change

#MuseumWeek in Essex

#MuseumWeek

From 23rd to 29th March, museums around the world will be taking part in “Museum Week” on Twitter. This event is an opportunity for museums to engage with the public, sharing photos, stories and information about what goes on behind-the-scenes. Taking part is a great way for museums to connect with audiences and develop their social media offer. Full details of the week are available on the official website.

My top tips for museums thinking about taking part are:

  • Work with a team of colleagues from throughout the museum to plan what you’ll be tweeting about through the week.
  • Tell people what you’re going to be doing – write a press release, put it on your website, promote it in the museum and, of course, on your social media accounts!
  • The daily themes can be interpreted flexibly or you can make up your own!
  • Share different voices e.g. volunteers and members of staff, artists, community partners or members of your youth group
  • Encourage your visitors to take part – posters in the gallery, brief your front-of-house team to talk about it and tweet questions to your followers
  • Make use of other social media platforms e.g. audio-recordings via sites like audioBoom or SoundCloud, videos on Vine or YouTube or collecting the public’s photos on Pinterest boards. You can also preserve tweets using Storify

Don’t forget:

  • to register on the #MuseumWeek website
  • to make use of scheduling sites like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck
  • that this doesn’t need to take over! While I’d recommend between 3 and 5 tweets a day as a minimum, you don’t have to do more if you don’t have capacity to.
  • to put information on your website about when you’ll be tweeting. If you can’t cover the account at weekends or in the evening, that’s absolutely fine, but tell people!
  • HAVE FUN!!! Choosing things to tweet about, talking to the public about these museums we love… it should be a creative and enjoyable experience.

Museums Registered so far from Essex are:

If you are an Essex museum taking part in #MuseumWeek and your name is not on this list, please send me an email.

I will also be tweeting as @EssexMDO

Dinosaur vs Whale: What Can We Learn from the Natural History Museum?

"Dippy" the Diplodocus

“Dippy” on display at the Natural History Museum (Image by CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The Natural History Museum caused a media storm last week when they announced that “Dippy” the diplodocus would be leaving his current spot in the entrance gallery and be replaced by the skeleton of a blue whale.

While some people are upset that Dippy is leaving, the truth is that the diplodocus had only been in that spot for 35 years, not all that long in the museum’s 134 year history. George the Elephant stood there from 1907 to 1979 – a far more impressive run! It should also be noted that Dippy’s not a “real fossil”, but a plaster cast. Changing the display is part of NHM drive to highlight issues of environmental conservation, which is a significant part of their vision, and the museum will continue to have dinosaurs on display.

The story has given the museum a lot of publicity. It’s been featured by all of the major news outlets and the public have taken to the internet, the radio and television debates to express their allegiance to either #TeamDippy or #TeamWhale. I confidently predict that their visitor figures will go up over the next few months, not just because people want to “say goodbye” to Dippy but because all of this media coverage has reminded them that the museum is there and it’s free. Then, when the whale takes up residence in 2017, the new display and second round of publicity will bring visitors back again.

So what can smaller museums learn from this example?

Small museums are unlikely to get the scale of press coverage that NHM had, but refreshing displays does encourage people to make return visits. It also means that items that would otherwise be sitting in store are seen. Fragile items that can’t be on permanent display due to lighting levels can be made available to the public for short periods of time. The scale of this “refreshing” can range from simply changing the contents of a case in your permanent display, to a temporary exhibition telling a particular story or even a full redisplay of your museum.

If you are making a significant change this can cause controversy amongst local audiences. However, with clear communication (or even better, consultation) we can bring people over to our side (or at least explain why we’re making a change).

Augmented reality at Colchester Castle

A visitor exploring the new displays at Colchester Castle

Tom Hodgson, Colchester Museum Manager, oversaw the recent HLF-funded redisplay of Colchester Caste:

“The redevelopment of Colchester Castle has had a huge and immediate impact and our visitors are clearly delighted by the mix of object rich displays, lively interactives and audio visuals. They are also pleased by the balance we have struck between displaying the collections and showcasing the Castle itself. A few of our visitors are not yet sold on the more modern innovations, but the vast majority have appreciated the use of new technologies such as virtual reality and digital tablets to add further layers and depth to our interpretation. In the nine months since we re-opened on 2 May last year we have received over 88,000 visitors to the Castle – the same figure that we achieved in 2011/12 our last full year of opening. We are expecting to welcome over 100,000 visitors by the end of March”.

If you anticipate that the public are going to complain about changes, particularly on social media, it’s important to maintain a level head in your responses. This “Storify” by the NHM of responses to the news about Dippy is a master-class in good social media management: https://storify.com/NHM_London/blue-whale-to-take-centre-stage

~Amy Cotterill, Museum Development Officer

What is a Tweetup?

Tweetup (Noun)


“a meeting or other gathering organised by means of posts on the social media website Twitter”

– definition by Google

You may have noticed in the events listing that I organise a quarterly tweetup for “museumy people” (including staff, volunteers and students). They are free to attend and you don’t need any experience or knowledge of social media.

Tweetups are very informal affairs. The ones I organise take place in The Ale House, which is just outside of Chelmsford Station. They start at 5:30pm, but you can join in whenever you turn up. We sit and chat about museums and our experiences, ask each other’s advice and share ideas. Along the way we discuss different digital platforms, including blogs, Facebook, Pinterest… and of course Twitter, and how we can use them in museums, but that is only part of what these sessions are about. They’re really just an informal way to get to meet other people from all different levels of the sector.

The next museum tweetup is on Monday 26th January, and we’re being joined by museum bloggers “Ministry of Curiosity” aka Terri Dendy, Collections Information Officer at the Science Museum, and Kristin Hussey, Assistant Curator at the Hunterian Museum. Their blog has been featured in Guardian Culture Pros, Art Industry Magazine Online and the Museums Journal. At the 2014 Museums Association Conference they ran a discussion session which led to the creation of a Social Media Manifesto.

If you’d like to come along, enjoy a natter and meet new people, you’d be very welcome. If you register on-line here, it helps me know how big a table we’ll need in the pub.