The Museum's Social Media Strategy

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 19 Nov 2009

Developing a social media strategy for the Museum - why are we in these spaces and what will we actually do in them?

Social media brainstorm 1

Social media brainstorm 1
Photographer: Lynda Kelly © Australian Museum

Our task is to have a more strategic approach to working with social media across the Museum. To kick-off the conversation we had a workshop today (18 November) with around 25 staff to progress this.

The aims of the workshop were to:

  • get on track with what we’ve been doing with social media over the past 6 months under the auspices of the Engaging with Social Media ARC grant
  • think about the aims of our social media strategy by reflecting on these
  • plan some further integrated projects for 2010

We got well down the path with some terrific discussions around the aims, with notes from each working group found here, which we based on questions posed in Russ's presentation (also available on the right hand side of this page).

After most people left, a small group of us developed the key aim for the Museum in social spaces as:

  • To inspire the exploration of nature and cultures through sharing; engaging; building relationships and influencing, while adapting our organisational culture.

Through using social media we aspire to:

  • increase our reach, influence and relevance
  • create ambassadors to support and promote what we do
  • personalise interactions
  • encourage and grow communities through a critical mass of active cultural and scientific participants
  • maximise revenue
  • change our work models from one-to-one communication to many-to-many communication
  • move from providing information to creating shared meaning with audiences

Our operating principals are that we:

  • recognise engagement is part of our jobs - it's just that the tools we use have changed
  • need to drive visitation across all platforms, with recognition that visitors to the physical site is a key goal
  • will work towards finding out where each of us "fit"within the world of social media - it may be that some people interact intermittently and some very frequently
  • listen, respect and respond to our audiences wherever they are and however they want to interact with us
  • write once, publish many times across a range of platforms
  • think and work 20% differently, not 20% more

So, how does this sound? Did I get the gist of the conversation? Where do we go now? Thoughts please?


Lynda Kelly - 11.12 AM, 03 December 2009

Just came across the MuseumNext blog with videos about developing a social media strategy (go down the page a bit). Looks good!

Lynda Kelly - 6.12 AM, 01 December 2009

Thanx for rising to the challenge and commenting Jareen! I'm very much looking to working further with you guys too. When we have something drafted be great to share with you. At this stage we'll probably keep using the blog + Museum 3.0 to get feedback and share ideas and learnings.

Jareen Summerhill - 3.11 PM, 30 November 2009
Hey there Lynda - this is great! Thank you sharing. Museum Victoria are just about to go through something similar with an end result of having a better, more strategic Social Media Plan. Looking forward to bouncing ideas through your blog! Jareen
Lynda Kelly - 7.11 PM, 23 November 2009

Thnx Nancy, your support is appreciated and we admire your work. I also posted a link to your site right at the bottom of this discussion. Look forward to productive conversations.

NancyProctor - 7.11 AM, 23 November 2009
I think it's wonderful that you're developing your strategy in public view like this: really practicing the ethics you aim for. I'll add a link back from the Smithsonian's web & new media strategy wiki as I know we'll get a lot out of following your process too!
Lynda Kelly - 2.11 PM, 20 November 2009

By the way "RT @erikajoy: my survey 'how social media affects curators' here" This may throw up some interesting ideas.

Lynda Kelly - 2.11 PM, 20 November 2009

Thanks so much everyone for your comments and rising to the challenge – I’m really stoked!

Bliss/Sophie - my advice with longer posts is to do them in Word then cut and paste (like I have with this one!) – it also keeps a record of your thoughts and can be reposted on a site like Museum 3.0 or another blog for example. And if the system logs you out you don’t lose your work, plus the spell checker is better in Word!
Bliss 2 – it has been a huge learning curve but the key point here is that we learned together – it was a true collaboration and the whole certainly was greater than the parts. And yes, we do need to regularly review our progress. We also decide that it was important so we programmed a regular one hour per week to either meet and talk or sit together at my desk and do stuff.
Sophie 2 – yes, it must be seen as an investment and staff therefore must be given the time to do this OR else relieved of something else OR  find ways to work together and streamline what we do. I think these are all legitimate options and may work differently depending on the situation. I still really believe that there are work habits that can be more easily done online (and I’m trying to do them, such as writing blog posts rather than emailing, tweeting a link rather than emailing and a few more that don’t spring to mind right now!).
Fran – for a social media 1.0 lesson I suggest you view the Common Craft videos that introduce these concepts. I have added a few to Museum 3.0 but they are also on YouTube. They cover areas such as what is social media; twitter; blogs; wikis; social networking; podcasting and RSS feeds. They’re a bit naff but get the points across. I’m really pleased you came along, especially as you felt like a novice.
Catherine – I never really thought about your point that these indicators need to be long-term. I’ve always felt that since this area is so quickly evolving that we need to rush, rush, rush, but you’re right – we’re in it for the long haul so may as well have indicators that are too.
Kristin – small steps are the way forward. Your comment reminded me of what one of my friends says that embracing social media is not about age, it’s about outlook, and to me being open-minded and willing to have a go no matter how small is critical.
Bliss Jensen - 1.11 PM, 20 November 2009

FYI - my 5 minutes to read and post comment turned into 20 :(

Unfortunately I did not take Sophie Lieberman’s advice in the post before mine. I lost my first 3 paragraph post when skipping from ‘review’ to ‘submit’ comment. I must have clicked somewhere I shouldn't, I don’t know what happened, it just disappeared. So one more comment - when we think things will take 5 minutes...plan a few more as contingency.
Lesson learnt!
Bliss Jensen - 1.11 PM, 20 November 2009

Lesson two... Listen to Sophie Lieberman's advice!!!!!

I agree we need to remind ourselves it’s early days and we’re all still learning.  I’ve been using social media for 8 months for work projects and admittedly have initially spent a HUGE amount of time learning, administering, and participating in the evil exhibition blog and Facebook projects. While I now have a ‘sense’ of greater efficiency and productivity in using Facebook and Blogger, I still see that the more time I put into using social media the more interaction and activity is generated. Overall using social media for the Evil exhibition project does seem to be working well, but we need to remember that the success I’m having may not be applied to every project.
Social media tools developing and changing rapidly - so while developing a strategy, I think we also need to remember to regularly reassess and realign our aims, objectives, outcomes and KPIs to relfect this dynamic environment.
Sophie Lieberman - 10.11 AM, 20 November 2009

lesson one is using social media - never type your response directly into the comment function etc... because if you hit the wrong button you will loose your well thoughtout response.

so, thank you for yesterday it was a good time to reflect and to think about who we are and what we do (and why). one of the things I value most about working for the Museum is that we are able to do this as a regular part of our jobs - i think this reflection is part of our success. that we are now doing this so openly is exciting and invigorating.

my comments are two. I as struck by Bliss' observation that after a long invetment her use of social media has finally become manageable. we need to remember that using social media tools is an investment and dividends may be some way off...this involves wider thinking about what we value and how we allocate/use our resources.

relatedly Matt noted that we are a big institution with a brand to 'protect' - this makes using social media tricky in some regards as the pace of change and response and the individual relationships that it promotes (and that make it so vaulable) can be difficult to achieve. indeed, this could have very significant implications for how we do what we do, our organisational strutcture and preconceptions about authority, ownership, voice, audience  etc...

i dont see any of the outcomes of using social media as bad - indeed it think this is a really exciting time for us and i embrace this challenge wholeheartedly - but we may find that we wind up somewhere very different than we expect as we explore all the possibilities that social media raises.

Fran Dorey - 9.11 AM, 20 November 2009

Realised how little I know about scoial media (felt on occasions that I was listening to a foreign language), as have had little need so far  to use it in my job (and no time outside of it!). This is changing very quickly though, and I think it will be a very valuable tool - but can we please have a Social Media 1.0 for Dummies??

Catherine Cooper - 8.11 AM, 20 November 2009

It was a great workshop and a good time out to think. I was struck by how in this world it seems you sometimes (not always!) need to do something for a while before it starts 'paying dividends' - so that whatever KPI we have for social media they may need to run over a couple of years rather than just one. I think that's probably only true at the beginning, but the beginning is where we are at the moment.

Kristin Anderson - 8.11 AM, 20 November 2009

Lynda, a great workshop that resulted in a great 'aim' or vision. After each of these meetings I have come away with a little more understanding of the possibilities of social media and a little more confidence (small steps for me, very boring I know). Next year I would like to explore the opportunity for a Eureka Ambassador to be used within the realm of social media. I also think that the document you and Russ are planning on developing outling how as an organisation we should engage with our online communities will be a really useful guide and something that we should continue to add to as we get more experience. (Just as an aside this is my first ever 'comment')

Lynda Kelly - 7.11 AM, 20 November 2009

Here's the link to the Smithsonian's web and new media strategy. They also developed this collaboratively. It's a good read.

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