Sunday 11 December 2016

Museums As Online Thought Leaders (Friday5)

Art institutions have long depended on educators to translate learnings and share expertise. But the emergence of digital tools has shaken up the industry, setting a new standard for organizations to communicate with the public and with artists. It’s in this context that museums are leveraging social media to position themselves as industry veterans.

Here are five ways leading art institutions are using social media to become online thought leaders:

1. Expert Spotlights

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the drive to showcase expertise inspired the museum’s Connections project. The video series, hosted on the gallery’s website and YouTube channel, features experts across the Met network musing on their favorite works, with each video zeroing in on a particular theme. Indeed, one success driver of the project is the diversity of voices it includes. Those spotlighted as part of the program run the gamut from curators and researchers to web editors and security guards, typifying the museum’s permanence in the lives of many.

2. Behind-the-Scenes Access

With myriad assets at their disposal, museums are strategically placed to offer insider access to their collections. The British Museum, for instance, teased its Greek sculpture exhibit with a Periscope tour led by historian Dan Snow. The 25-minute video was streamed in real-time and offered viewers an exclusive look at the collection, with expert insight threaded throughout the clip. More often than not, visitors are seeking out this insider information, and digital-savvy institutions know how to take advantage of this trend.

3. QAs

Museums are capitalizing on these new tools to address customer questions online. With followers seeking out new media for information unlisted on branded websites or owned platforms, art institutions are turning to social media to share relevant insights. At the National Portrait Gallery in London, a recent Twitter QA did just that, with followers invited to pose questions in an online discussion with Matan Ben Cnaan, noted photographer and recent winner of a Portrait Gallery campaign. The conversation, archived on Storify, is a prime example of the potential for rich dialogue for museums with an ear to the ground.

4. Recurring Events

Taking this a step further, art institutions are staging online events around followers’ interests. The Design Museum, for instance, launched a weekly #FontSunday activation, inviting fans to share inspiring typography using the branded hashtag. Relevant entries, shared across Twitter and Instagram, garnered widespread traction, positioning the museum at the forefront of the design conversation online.

5. Partner Highlights

Equally important, albeit slightly counterintuitive, is the notion of spotlighting partners to establish thought leadership. At the Guggenheim, the Mondays in Motion blog series does just this, showcasing the artists behind the collections throughout the gallery. Each entry, consisting of a short video clip and corresponding blog post, focuses on a notable artist’s creative process. Though few entries call out the museum, hosting the series on the Guggenheim website underscores the gallery’s longstanding collaboration with artists and established presence in the sector.

Expert insights, the fodder of art institutions for some time, have experienced a recent resurgence in the digital age, propelled by new technology and shifting consumer habits. It’s in this setting that museums are fast becoming the new breed of industry virtuosos, leveraging social media to reimagine and adapt thought leadership in the digital age.

Image credit: Phil Roeder

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