Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

#MuseSocial: Museums and Social


What is #musesocial? As social media practitioners at various museums, we wanted to advance professional discussion beyond the capabilities of specific platforms and tools and the ideal number of followers. We wanted to ask bigger questions about what drove museums to participate in social media, why that matters, and what followers/audiences/communities actually wanted from us. In talking to other colleagues and museum visitors themselves, we discovered that we weren’t the only ones interested in this dialog.

The #musesocial hashtag was born and we began holding online conversations weekly in the month of March. All we did was identify a list of thought-provoking questions to blast out during these conversations and the museum community (along with a few intrepid museum appreciators who don’t work or want to work in the museum field) responded. Loudly. This week, we brought the conversation to Museums & the Web in San Diego, pairing the in-the-room dialog with yet another #musesocial chat on Twitter.

To those of you who have already participated online or in beautiful San Diego, thanks for joining us and look forward to upcoming Twitter chats to continue the conversation! For those of you interested in jumping into the conversation (or just lurking on the sidelines) thanks for joining us. If you’d like to catch up on past discussions, many are on Storify here: http://storify.com/mw12social

Throughout the conversation, we’ve discussed a few key topics related to museums and social media.

Audience vs. Community: AUDIENCES ARE IRRELEVANT. LONG LIVE COMMUNITY!
Learning: PEOPLE DON'T LEARN THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA (and even if they do, we can't know)
Participation: EVERYONE SHOULD SPEAK ON BEHALF OF THE MUSEUM VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
Metrics: WE DON'T MEASURE ENGAGEMENT WITH EXHIBITIONS, SO WHY TRY TO MEASURE IT WITH SOCIAL MEDIA?
More detailed questions we pose are here: http://museums-social-media.wikispaces.com/Questions+to+Tweet

Now that our forum at Museums & the Web is come and gone, we don’t want to end the discussion there. Here’s how to stay connected and keep it going as we discuss these topics as well as many others.

Until we get a WordPress blog created, this wiki is home base for announcements related to #MuseSocial: http://museums-social-media.wikispaces.com/

SLIDESHARE: http://slidesha.re/Iul9Lm

POLLS: (Answer by SMS/text, tweet, or web)
Do you think it's important that museums understand the difference between audience and community? http://bit.ly/IgprRn

Do you think social media communities are worth the effort? http://bit.ly/IKDvbH

Does your museum know what its fans and followers really want? http://bit.ly/INZbz1

Can/do audiences really learn through social media? http://bit.ly/Ilu5Qg

Can social media learning outcomes be measured? http://bit.ly/HOMNC4

Do audiences want to hear from more people in your organization via social media? http://bit.ly/IuoutZ

Who should speak on behalf of your museum on social media? http://bit.ly/HR2c3W

Should social media outreach require more measurement or scrutiny than exhibits or public programs? http://bit.ly/HAcLFU

Does your museum have social media goals you would want to measure if you had the perfect toolkit? http://bit.ly/J6OTtd

Our next #MuseSocial chat will most likely take place on Tuesday, May 8, 2012.

#MuseSocial is brought to you by:
Elissa Frankle, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, @museums365
Georgina Goodlander, Smithsonian American Art Museum, @bathlander
Victoria Portway, National Air and Space Museum, @sluggernova
Jeff Gates, Smithsonian American Art Museum, @outtacontext
Darren Milligan, Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, @darrenmilligan
Rachel Greiner, National Air and Space Museum, @gator_rach
Brian Alpert, Smithsonian Office of the CIO, @balpert
Erin Blasco, Smithsonian Postal Museum, @erinblasco
Sarah Banks, National Museum of Natural History, @sbanks20
Amelia Wong, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, @amelialikespie
Shared account: @mw12social