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Natural History Museum Reaches Millions with TikTok

When you think of the latest innovations that are allowing museums around the world to reach new audiences, perhaps snail jokes aren’t top of your list. But a museum in Pittsburgh has proved that a simple idea well executed can win over a new generation of fans.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History has attracted millions views of films of Tim Pearce, a curator at the museum telling snail jokes on the video-sharing social networking website TikTok.

Snail Joke Museum TikTok

The app is popular with 13-21 year old’s, with over 1 billion people downloading it. That makes it bigger than Instagram.

The content is mainly around dancing, singing and lip synching to music, movies or sound bites. Users create short looped videos, then have the option of adding music and Snapchat style stickers or filters. While hashtags make the content searchable.

The fun content makes it appeal to teenagers. And it would seem that teenagers like snails.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History have posted 12 films on TikTok, with the most viewed attracting over 1.5 million views. That’s more people than visited all four institutions in the Carnegie Museums Of Pittsburgh group last year.

@carnegiemnh#fyp #naturalhistorymuseum #pittsburgh #obama #michelleobama #snail♬ original sound – carnegiemnh

Director of Marketing, Sloan MacRae first asked Tim Pearce to film a series of jokes and fun facts about snails for the museums social media accounts about a year ago. But they didn’t take off on other social media platforms in the same way in which they have on TikTok.

The secret of the museum success is perhaps the lighthearted nature of the posts, which fits with the type of content consumed on the platform.

@carnegiemnh#MolluskMonday #fyp #pittsburgh #naturalhistorymuseum♬ original sound – carnegiemnh

With millions of views, the museum will hope to turn some of the teens viewing the films on TikTok into visitors, but Sloan MacRae also hopes that the viral success of Tim Pearce might show people that Scientists are real people.

Perhaps these snail jokes might even inspire a few young people to consider science as career.

Interested in the latest digital thinking for museums? Join us for MuseumNext Digital Summit in December 2020.

About the author – Jim Richardson

Jim Richardson is the founder of MuseumNext. He has worked with the museum sector on digital and innovation projects for more than twenty years and now spends his time championing best practice through MuseumNext.

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