Long before Google’s Arts & Culture App went viral when people realized they could upload their selfies to be matched to historical paintings, the app existed to share great works of art with the masses. Certainly, the sensational nature of the matching feature has increased traffic and usage of the app — and, that makes it an extremely successful example of using social media for academic outreach. Looking for something similar? User experience research and design ideas will customize social media outreach to your programs for the greatest success.
Museums Using Social Media for the Greater Good
To successfully use social media in the Science communication (Scicomm) space, especially when it comes to museums, a different voice and way of thinking is necessary. No longer do we live in a world of outbound information. Today’s social media platforms require robust engagement and relating to users, and that incurs a cost that is frequently burdensome to programs held together by a shoestring. Though initially, it’s challenging to point out the return on investment (ROI) of social media, it fairly soon becomes apparent that it is driving traffic and enthusiasm, when done correctly. Let’s take a look at the way a few museum programs are impacting people via social media.
Similar to the Google selfie app, VanGoYourself encourages people to take a photo of themselves. But this time, the photo is one that mimics one of Van Gogh’s famous paintings. Ancient culture collides beautifully with the modern world using this app, and it is great for lots of laughs while motivating users to learn more about art.
Society for Historical Archeology (SHA)
Based in Boston, this organization has taken to the web to increase interest in their programs and found great success. SHA’s online presence includes blogs, a website and a number of social media accounts they use to tell people, and show them, what is new and exciting. They’ve learned that different social platforms are best for certain types of sharing; Instagram and Pinterest for great visuals, Facebook to tell a story, Twitter to make a quick announcement or provoke thought. They also realized early on that strong branding is vital, and original content is key, especially images.
Simply becoming a little more active on social media will not work; in fact, if you only intend to post on your Facebook page every few months, it will likely be more of a waste of your time than a useful tool. Your goal should be to draw people in with compelling content. Creating a plan to make your social media platforms work for your academic outreach is key to pulling everything together successfully. That is where user experience research and design can be invaluable to you.