Social Media

What it means

Social media refers to a museum’s owned digital media channels for building community, cultivating a respectful space for dialogue, and leveraging content to support a museum’s mission, strategy, and audience-building goals.

When used with strategic creativity and authenticity, social media can be a powerful platform for amplifying a museum’s voice, personality, and social impact.

How it’s used

Social media is an indispensable part of a strategic marketing communications mix, requiring dedicated resources. Platforms come and go with the ability to make and break organizational reputations, and therefore, require constant management and investment.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, and Pinterest are just some of the popular platforms used by museums to engage, connect, and grow their fans and followers. Location-based online communities such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google Business also provide opportunities for audiences to share and rate museum experiences, and these platforms can also make valuable additions to an organization’s social media mix. When planning your social media strategy, it is important to recognize that different communities are on different platforms and they engage differently according to the characteristics of each platform.

An important aspect of this work is monitoring, listening to, and sharing content created by others (user-generated content).

Museums benefit from having social media guidelines, establishing clear rules and parameters for how users—referring to both the public and employees—should use and engage with the organization’s social platforms. This helps balance transparency and freedom of speech with cultivating a respectful community space online, just as a museum would uphold in its physical spaces onsite.

Why it matters

Social media helps to humanize an institution. It gives an accessible voice to an otherwise possibly intimidating organization, creating a direct line of communication between a museum and the people it serves.

Breaking geographical and cultural barriers, social media allows for a range of conversations—from fun quips and rapport-building to customer service and dispelling misinformation—to happen in real-time.

Leveraged strategically, social media can be a powerful way to grow long-term trust, relationships, and loyalty with audiences.

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