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Monday, 9 November 2015

Using collections to drive social media: MA conference digest

Thank you so much to everyone you came along to our Smarter Training session at this year’s MA conference or who joined the discussion on twitter. We had an absolutely fantastic time sharing our passion with you and we were thrilled with your really positive response! As promised, this post includes some of the guidelines and suggestions we talked about to help you develop content for social media using your collections.

Before that though, just a few thoughts on some of the issues that came up on the day. First of all, we were really interested to see the broad spectrum of people who came along- from social media newbies to old hands. We were asked by a few people which sites we recommend for museum social media and how to get started. Just quickly- we love twitter and instagram and see museums moving more towards periscope and tumblr in the future. To be honest we don’t use facebook that much and wouldn’t really recommend it for a museum audience. It’s not nearly reactive or interactive enough! If you are just getting started, make an account, follow some people, and watch how its done for a few weeks before wading in. Also – get cozy with other local museums and heritage institutions who can draw attention to your new account!

We were also asked how we think a museum should deal with twitter accounts when lots of people want to get involved. Personally we don’t see a problem with museum staff tweeting from their personal accounts- as long as they are following guidelines of common sense and professionalism. Since that makes some museums nervous, we suggest that each department be in charge of its own twitter account – and the main museum twitter can focus on big stories and events, and supporting its separate departments.

The main subject of our talk was using collections for social media. As everyone who works with online accounts knows, the social media rat race is a hungry hungry beast. It needs to be constantly fed with new content, images, opinions and posts- and that’s where your collections and your staff come in! There are so many different ways to look at one object that your collection is a boundless source of inspiration, as are they people who work with them everyday. We believe in empowering collections staff of all varieties, from volunteers to curators, to engage with objects and create new content.

But of course, not all of us are used to thinking like social media people. So how do you tell a story with an object? Well here are some of our tips:

 At the Museums Association Conference in 2014, we ran a collaborative workshop in which we, along with fellow delegates, created the Social Media Manifesto. We think the Manifesto summarizes some really important points about museum social media which should be kept in mind when creating your content:

Finally, we’ve put together just a few thoughts which we’ve called the ‘Golden Rules of Social Media’ – based on the Manifesto as well as our own experience as museum professionals and museum bloggers:

We hoped that the workshop, as well as these resources, will inspire you to think about your collections in a new way, and to give staff across the museum a better sense of how they could get involved!

If you have any questions or comments- please feel free to get in touch! @curiositytweet or! 

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