Museums in Social Media

Best Practice Session
Natalia Dudareva, Denmark

Published paper: Museums in social media

What is the relevance of social media for marketing of arts and culture museums? Who are the virtual followers of their social media? Are they the same people who visit their physical locations or do they represent completely different groups of people?

Arts and culture sector is actively seeking approaches to embrace the rapid development of web technologies, and thus it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the audiences addressed through these media. I will describe the users of museums’ social media, group them according to their motivations for following these pages, and explain how this knowledge can be useful for communication specialists of arts and culture museums.

This research was conducted as a part of the master thesis and reached out to the Facebook followers of three arts and culture museums in Copenhagen: The National Gallery of Denmark, The National Museum of Denmark, and The David Collection. The quantitative survey described their Facebook followers and identified two main motivations that divided them. These are the desire to interact with the museums and the feelings of connectedness with them and their community.

Five types of Facebook followers emerged from these motivations: ‘enthusiast’, ‘connected’, ‘contributor’, ‘interested’, and ‘informational’. ‘Enthusiast’ is the most active and engaged user, who is also actively visiting museums. ‘Connected’ is not as active in interaction, but also represents museum visitors, along with the ‘interested’. The ‘contributor’ and ‘informational’ types demonstrated a new development in the arts and culture sector. They describe Facebook users who follow museums in social media and get inspired by their updates, but at the same time do not visit museums often or do not feel motivated to do so. Although each of the relationship types places a high value on the information provided by museums in social media, this research suggests that social media communication is becoming a cultural experience of its own.

This research demonstrates that social media provides opportunities both for strengthening the existing audience relationships and for establishing the new ones with those who are not active museum visitors. It identifies that many users take inspiration for the visits from the Facebook pages, and the most engaged social media followers also tend to be more active visitors.

Nevertheless, social media is still not a universal tool. Even among those who follow museums on social media there is a large share of users that do not feel that Facebook is the most suitable place to interact with museums. Moreover, many do not feel confident sharing their opinions on this platform. Therefore, although social media offers possibilities to enhance interactions with the audiences, it should be closely integrated with the other elements of the marketing strategies, both on the web and offline. Thus it supplements the other online and offline elements of the marketing strategies by providing more opportunities for audience involvement and attracting new types of consumers.

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