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Tips to get your Museum started with Social Media

In this article, we’ll go through social media basics to get your Museum started on the four most popular platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. We’ll also talk a bit about how each one should be used! 

If your Museum already has an active presence on one, or several social media platforms, there is still a lot to learn here! We will guide you through which sections of the platform to focus on, and what users will expect to see when they arrive on your page. 

Then, we’ll show you the 5 steps to developing absolutely KILLER social content for your museum. This is the type of content that makes viewers stop the scroll and see what your org has got to offer. We are talking about an authentic tone, organisational connections, engaging language and people, eye-catching visuals, and relevant buzzwords.

How to set your Museum up on Social Media

Facebook

Creating a Facebook account isn’t the right move for an organisation, they are for people. The best way to promote your org and connect with communities on Facebook is to create a page. The first step to doing that is going to www.facebook.com/business and clicking in the upper right hand corner to “create a page.”

You’ll then be presented with two options to choose from: 1) Business or brand 2) Community or public figure. In this instance, you will always want to choose “business or brand” as that option includes the capacity to run Facebook ads which will significantly help spread brand awareness and boost audience numbers. Even if you don’t consider your organisation to be a “business” in that you’re not selling things etc… You will still want to have the option to run Facebook ads as it can really help to boost your organisation’s profile. 

The next step is to name your page (easy peesy) and add your organisation’s physical address. Then you’ll be prompted to add a profile picture and cover photo. We’ll remind you now, but refer back to this article on Brand Consistency for the proper measurements for all popular social media platforms.

Use your museum logo as the profile picture while you can be a bit more creative with the cover photo. It can be as simple as your branded colours arranged in shapes or designs. You could choose to upload a physical photo of your organisation if you have a beautiful building and/or location. You could also choose to add event/programme photos… Perhaps you could even come up with a catchy graphic that involves all of those aspects! Take a look at the cover photos of other organisations to get some inspiration. 

Once you’ve got your profile pic and cover photo sorted, you’ll be presented with your business page – horray! Be sure to click right under the profile picture to the left to create a custom URL for your organisation. This will enable page visitors to find your organisation faster and be sure that it isn’t lost in the shuffle.

Next, you’ll notice that just under the cover photo, you’ll see four buttons, “Like”, “Follow”, “Share” and “….” If you click on the dotted line, a host of other options come up with  handy links including:

  • Edit page info
  • View insights
  • View as page visitor
  • Create Ad
  • Create Event
  • Create Groups
  • Ads Manager
  • Create Page
  • Pin to Shortcuts
  • Like as Your Page
  • Invite Friends
  • Create Milestone

Take advantage of these shortcuts to see how your page looks to a visitor and invite friends of your organisation to officially like your page. While you are in “viewer” mode, venture down to the “About” section of your Facebook page located underneath of your profile picture on the left-hand side. There is ample opportunity to customise the page to reflect all of the important information about your organisation. Provide users with all of the necessary contact and mission-drive information about your organisation here so that they can be armed with all of the essential info for visiting and/or making a donation

You’ll end up using a lot of these other Facebook shortcuts quite frequently if you want to get the most out of the platform. For every public event that your organisation hosts, put it on Facebook. For every marketing campaign that involves Facebook users, create an ad. This drop-down will become one of your social media besties – trust us.

Facebook also has some great functionality around Live streaming, find out more about that here.

Instagram

When setting up your organisation’s Instagram account, it’s possible to link to Facebook at the beginning of the process and re-use all of the content that you just used to create the page – brilliant! 

After you account is initially created, you’ll be asked to follow accounts that are suggested for you. Feel free to disregard this as there will be plenty of time (and more instructions from us!) and how to find relevant followers in a bit. 

Then, it’s time to tweak your bio… What do you want followers/potential followers to know about you in one blurb? Take a look at similar organisations to see how they describe themselves with a quick quip. Your tagline would be a great thing to insert here! It’s also prudent to insert a link to your website so you can continually direct traffic. 

The next step will be making sure that you’ve got an appropriate sized profile picture and to set the stage for correct sizing of future posts.

Take note that the size for a post graphic and the size for an instastories graphic are different. The instastories graphic takes up the entirety of the mobile user’s screen and is a vertical rectangle. The graphic posts can be any size, but they will be cut down to a square to fit within the Instagram grid. 

Now to delve into settings. If you are a business/organisation, it’s important that you have a public account so people can find you! Under “Privacy and Security” within the settings tab of Instagram, make sure that your account isn’t marked as private. We would also encourage you to allow “Story Sharing”. This means that when you post a story on Instagram, followers will be able to share that story with other friends and even post it to their own account. This can only be beneficial in the long run as it’s another form of “re-posting”, “re-tweeting”… You get the gist. 

The final step in setting up your Instagram account is to follow relevant people. Our favourite trick for doing this is to go to the page of a competing organisation that you share many similarities with. Click on who they are following and use that list as a jumping off point for choosing accounts to follow! We would then recommend following all of your organisational partners, stakeholders, loyal members and similar sector organisations.

Looking for some Instagram inspiration, read this article about why Museums should embrace Instagram.

Twitter

Because Twitter is a very news-focused platform that isn’t nearly as visual as Instagram, Facebook, or especially Pinterest, there isn’t too much required in setting up a page. However, this platform can be one of the most daunting because there’s a lot of Twitter-specific language and the instantaneous nature of the newsfeed can be enough to make someone go cross-eyed. If Twitter is new to you, and you are the one setting up the account for your organisation, we would highly recommend creating an individual account first to explore the terrain. Become a “lurker” for a while, observing the nuanced aspects of “liking” “tweeting” and “retweeting” before taking a plunge into the platform yourself. 

Once you feel like you’ve got the swing of things and understand how the platform works, you can set about creating an organisational account. To begin, choose a username that is clearly identifiable as your brand. Ideally it should be the name of your organisation. Next, modify your profile picture to the proper dimensions for Twitter and do the same for your cover photo. We recommend that all of your social media pictures and cover photos be similar to be identifiable to your brand. Here’s a reminder of the dimensions….

Here are some general rules of thumb to sort out the busy and seemingly complicated platform that is Twitter…

  • Tweets are limited to 280 characters, make the most of your word count.
  • It’s okay to use a slightly more casual tone on this platform, you don’t have to sound stuffy. Twitter is a place for casual peer sharing so don’t be afraid to crack a joke or two. 🙂
  • Remember to use the appropriate hashtags and handles in comments to draw in more viewers. 
  • If you start your tweet with a handle it will be treated as if it is a reply to a tweet from that handle and so it will only really appear on that account’s ‘wall’. If you don’t mean it to be a reply, use a full stop before the @.
  • “Liking” someone’s post is easy to do and alerts others to your account’s presence. 
  • With retweeting, you can either retweet a quote from someone else without your own comments, you can choose to quote a tweet which gives you the option to add your own commentary (hashtags and account tags too!)

Keep in mind, that’s it’s good Twitter practice to do the following!

      Follow people who follow you (if relevant.)

      Respond to DMs (direct messages) and comments, especially if it’s about your organisation.

–    Search up your organisation’s hashtag daily to see if there are any new comments/questions about your org to respond to, or conversations to engage in. 

      When you are posting about a certain exhibition or museum, make sure to tag them and use the appropriate hashtags (check the appropriate museum twitter account to find these.)

Find more guidance for Museums using Twitter here.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is first and foremost a platform for businesses and professional development. It’s a space for professionals to show off their credentials and prowess and well as for organisations to keep their followers updated on the latest and greatest about their businesses. On this platform you can do the following…

  • Re-share posts from organisational employees
  • Re-share posts that mention your organisation
  • Engage with people who are interested in your organisation
  • Reach out to other companies/people for potential partnerships
  • Discover content that is trending with your target audience
  • Monitor the activity of your page with LinkedIn analytics. 

When creating your LinkedIn company page, there are four initial options to choose from:

  1. Small business (fewer than 200 employees)
  2. Medium to large business (more than 200 employees)
  3. Showcase page (sub-pages associated with an existing page)
  4. Educational institution (schools and universities)

Once one of those options is chosen, defining your organisation in more detail will be the next step. Adding your contact information, website and industry are key elements here, as well as adding your branded profile picture and tagline. Remember, that all of the information you post here should be the same as other social media channels and on your website. It’s important to keep your tagline, contact information and industry consistent across all of your platforms. The tone can be slightly different for each one, but that basic information should remain the same. 

Here’s another handy reminded of the appropriate LinkedIn graphic sizes.


Tips for Museums getting started on Social Media

Now that you’ve gotten your socials sorted, it’s time to talk about how to create absolutely KILLER content that will reel in even the most skeptical of audiences. 

Be authentic

Remember how we talked about brand consistency last week? This first step to  developing absolutely killer social content hearkens back to that first lesson. Developing a “voice” that is authentic and immediately recognisable as belonging to YOUR is crucial in allowing your marketing to go to the next level. Only when your followers can hear the authentic voice of the organisation and identify with it will they become advocates and supporters.

Philbrook Museum do a great job with a tone of voice which resonates with their visitors.

It’s okay to take a slightly different tone on each platform. Facebook is more informative, which Instagram is more behind the scenes. Twitter is more news-worthy while LinkedIn is more polished. Tailor your messaging to each individual platform while keeping the content more or less the same (where applicable). It’s important however for everyone on your team that has a hand in social media to understand what the organisational voice is and not to stray for it. 

Involve your entire museum

Although the person who is in charge of social media is often say within the marketing department of an organisation. It really is up to the entire organisation to help develop content. What is the story you are looking to tell your visitors? Are they looking to be marketed to, or to discover anything and everything about the organisation that they are passionate and curious about? We think we can safely assume the latter, as authenticity is becoming increasingly more important in contemporary culture. 

Operating marketing from a silo can be dangerous and definitely won’t be as supported or as successful as a marketing department that has unilateral support and understanding from the rest of staff. 

Involve the community

If all you do is talk about your organisation from your point of view, followers are bound to get restless. Shaking things up is important, and if your organisation truly does believe in co-participation and co-curation, then it’s imperative to involve outside perspectives in your social media endeavours. 

  • Takeovers – invite a member of the community to take over your Instagram or Twitter account for the day. Give them a basic structure and guidelines, but hand over the reigns and appreciate seeing your organisation from a different point of view. 
  • Interviews – Dig a little deeper with important community partners or stakeholders. Host an interview on or off camera that highlights the connection that person has with the work that is being done at your organisation. 

  • Spotlights –  Shine a light on the work of a well-deserving individual in your organisation’s circle. Think of this as an elevated employee of the month, but with the end goal being showcasing the accomplished members that are from, or associated with your organisation.

Eye-catching visuals

Posts that use images or video attract MUCH more attention that text-only posts. Pairing important messaging with a photo or video will also increase the likelihood of the end-user remembering the message/content. In fact, it’s been reported that people are 65% more likely to retain information when it’s been paired with a relevant image.  

Even if it’s just a simple GIF or basic graphic with bold colours and text, add an image to your post! It is simply more effective, and a relatively quick-fix. 

Buzzwords

What are the buzzwords within your sector? Currently in the arts and culture sector, the following words are trending… 

Wellbeing/wellness
Sustainability
Creativity
Diversity
Industry
Catalyst
Transformative
Experimental
Impact
Reach
Scaling
Scaffold
Dissent
Interrogate
Abstract
Accessible
Evocative
Figurative
Seminal
Concept
Aesthetic
Resilience
Action
Innovation
Community
Participatory
Engaging

Keep an ear to the ground on which words and out, and which are in as the seasons change. Using buzzwords like these (with the proper understanding) can help your press releases and posts to stand out and get noticed by others in the sector. 

About the author – Devon Turner

Devon Turner is an Arts & Culture Writer. She has worked extensively in arts marketing for both the visual arts and performing arts in the US and UK. Now living in London, Devon works in the arts and culture sector and enjoys traveling to visit museums.

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