Social media strategies for museums

By Stephanie Weaver
San Diego hosted this two-day conference, sponsored by the Balboa Park Online Collaborative and funded by the Benbough Foundation. This was an amazing opportunity to hear some cutting-edge experts on museums and social media, and organizer Rich Cherry did a fantastic job bringing them all together.

Speakers included Peter Samis, Associate Curator of Interpretation for SFMOMA, open content expert Susan Chun (founder of Steve, the museum social tagging project), Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology for Brooklyn Museum, and Seb Chan, Head of Digital, Social & Emerging Technologies, Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. For a wonderful analysis of Seb's content, read Susan Spero's blog post here.

I had the chance to interview some of the speakers during the day, and ask them a few questions for people who weren't able to attend. First, how do you go about creating a social media strategy for a museum?

I was especially interested in how they've gone about creating the cultural shift necessary for integrating social media (including open content) into their institutional cultures.

One issue that comes up a lot is who gets to speak for the institution? Who becomes the voice? How do you define it? And, how do you integrate this entirely new set of tasks into people's already-busy work loads?

Last, I asked them to comment on the benefits of using social media.

Thanks to Peter, Susan, and Seb for their time, and the San Diego Hall of Champions for hosting.




Thank you! I really enjoyed this star-packed overview of the issues in social media strategies for museums.

I was struck by the call for authenticity and individual voices. Every speaker touched on the point that social media is all about people making personal connections. What a contrast with the old days -- of only a year or so ago! -- when museum communications were mostly anonymous and broadcasts.

Funny to think that these thick walls could be eroded so quickly, by the likes of tweets. What will the future look like?

Thanks Maureen. It was indeed a star-studded day here in San Diego. Yes, the world is changing quickly. I especially connected with Seb's comment that every person who works for one's museum is ALREADY the voice. We just haven't acknowledged that in the past.

A really helpful suite of interviews.

Thanks, Nick. It was a wonderful opportunity. So much talent in one room!

A Thank You Note to WestMuse

Today I offered a Minneapolis Arts Organization called Artspace a discussion about the benefits of social media. I included showing them the WestMuse blog as an example of the rich dialogue that may be obtained by employing social media for an organization's or group's interests. Together, we read some material and watched the videos posted here and also read some points from the post, "More Thoughtful Learning: How Professional Development Through Social Media Can Strengthen Cultural Institutions," by Leslie Madsen-Brooks (posted Aug 12). These posts, as well as surveying relating topics on the blogs from Museum2.0 and Museum3.0, contributed to generating great discussion on the uses and effectiveness of social media and organizational development! I even showed Artspace the new 501Arts site as a model for information generation for collective arts initiatives ! Needless to say, Artspace was amazed and excited by all the great uses of social media generated in the Bay area and by the museum community and is inspired to employ concepts gleaned from these models in the Twin Cities!!!

Thank you WestMuse, Museum2.0, Museum3.0 and all the contributing bloggers and commentators which help enrich the dialogue on the vital uses of social media uses in Arts organizations!! Your examples have generated deep thought, useful insight and relevant content which many Arts organizations stand to benefit from.

Paige Dansinger

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Just want to see if you are a robot.