Back in February, I spent a very enjoyable day with a group of people from various museums in Wiltshire talking about Social Media. The purpose of the day was to present a clear idea of what ‘Social Media’ is, and how it might be useful to museums.
Although the presentation was aimed at museums in Wiltshire, the same considerations apply to any organisation in any location.
The term ‘Social Media’ covers a number of different tools (we focused on just a few: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and blogging) which work in different ways and do different jobs, but, unlike most websites, they provide a way to communicate WITH the audience, rather than just talking AT the audience.
You expect a website to be fairly formal, factual. You may be able to interact with it, in the sense of booking tickets for an event, or buying something. But generally speaking, you’re always aware that you’re interacting with a computer. It’s not a ‘human’ experience.
With Social Media, the emphasis is entirely different. There’s a strong ‘human’ element. You’re very much aware that you’re interacting with other humans. It’s an altogether more SOCIAL experience.
And because you’re communicating in a social manner, you can’t expect the communication to go all one way – the idea is to engage the audience in a ‘conversation’.
For that reason, it’s important that you bear in mind the following when deciding which Social Media you are going to use:
- What are we trying to achieve with Social Media?
- Who are we trying to communicate with?
- How much time do we have to spend on Social Media?
- What is the natural inclination of the person who will be implementing the strategy?
That last point may look a bit strange, but I think it’s an important one. Remember that Social Media is ‘human’ and ‘conversational’ – this means that the ‘voice’ needs to be authentic. The sort of person who is able to write good content in 140 characters (for Twitter) may not be the person to write in-depth blog posts, for example.
There are already a number of Wiltshire museums doing good things with Social Media – check these out for inspiration:
Market Lavington Museum blog – http://marketlavingtonmuseum.wordpress.com/
Chippenham Museum & Heritage Museum Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/ChippenhamMuseum
Wiltshire Heritage Museum Twitter feed – @wiltsheritage – http://twitter.com/#!/wiltsheritage