From virtual museum tours on Youtube to hashtag challenges on TikTok and Instagram, visitor attractions are finding novel ways to stay engaged with their users during the lockdown.
Indeed, people have embraced social media, so much so that we are seeing an unprecedented rise in screen time during the pandemic, with 25% growth in engagement on Instagram and TikTok in the past month, and a staggering 72% increase on #ad content by influencers.
We have seen some brilliant examples of social media creativity from various kinds of attractions during the lockdown and we thought we’d highlight some of the ones that stuck out to us:
When the National Cowboy Museum closed and everyone went home, they handed the Twitter account over to security guard, Tim. And since the museum in Oklahoma put Tim in charge, everyone on Twitter has been praising his tweets. Some are educational, showcasing the museum’s collections, others document Tim’s attempts to wrap his head around the workings of the Internet. But, regardless of which ones you read, you are sure to find all of them simply hilarious and beyond entertaining. As a result, Tim the Cowboy has gained the museum a huge amount of free publicity and an army of new followers.
Another example of a visitor attraction using humour on Twitter is Mumbai’s Bhau Daji Lad Museum in India. They utilised some items from their collection to add a little humour to the advice for social distancing practices.
Elsewhere on the internet, visitor attractions have been using Instagram to communicate with visitors in order to spread a little positivity during the pandemic.
The Louvre has been brightening people’s Instagram accounts this month by continuing to post works from its collection.
Meanwhile, the New York Transit Museum shared a fascinating historical image of Grand Central Station. It also included a link to a digital exhibit where visitors can find out more.
Facebook is still the dominating social media channel for brands and users alike – attracting over 1.6 billion active users, Facebook has been an important communication tool during COVID-19.
An active Facebook user and tourist attraction, Telford’s Exotic Zoo, has built a makeshift TV set and started a new series of videos which are available on their Facebook page and Youtube channel. The content is both entertaining and educational for all the children tuning in to watch it during the lockdown. Also, to help raise money for its various running expenses, the zoo team offers paid, live lessons and other personalised services upon request.
Attractions across the globe also use YouTube to connect with and engage their visitors. There is a huge range of interesting videos to take advantage of while social distancing. Virtual tours, for instance, have without a doubt become a very popular way for museums to showcase their collections and remain present during these uncertain times.
That includes The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), which released a whole series of videos called The Met 360° project.
The program comprises videos covering six of The Met's most popular attractions and spaces, including the magnificent Neo-Classical Grand Hall, the Gothic Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, the more than 2,000-year-old Temple of Dendur, and more.
The videos are available on YouTube and you can view them from a range of different devices – smartphones, desktops, on Google Cardboard, or a VR headset.
Another interesting YouTube channel is The Brain Scoop, created by Emily Graslie, Chief Curiosity Correspondent at The Field Museum in Chicago. In her videos, she provides viewers with an insight into different parts of the museum’s collection.
On the other hand, some bigger visitor attractions have encouraged their army of online followers to interact by sharing content. One example is Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure, which asked their fans to submit a video of them explaining their favourite dinosaur facts which the attraction then made into one big video and uploaded it to YouTube.
This is an example of a really unusual request made from The Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo. The aquarium asked people to video call the organisation’s 300 garden eels and then they posted the videos on social media.
Typically, this species of tiny eels are cautious around humans, diving into the sand when someone approaches. Since the closure of the attraction, keepers noticed that the garden eels were hiding when people approached.
The problem is that with the eels hiding, the keepers’ job to monitor the animal's health becomes very difficult. Having this in mind, the zoo staff came up with a unique solution to invite people to FaceTime the eels, so they can once again become accustomed to seeing humans. FaceTiming the aquarium’s eels has received so much popularity in Tokyo that keepers had to limit visitors’ call time to only about five minutes before letting someone else have a turn.
To recap, initiatives like the ones above have not only been important in lifting our spirits during these difficult times, but they have also ensured that these visitor attractions will be top of mind for potential visitors once the lockdown is over. A little creativity goes a long way and social media proves it's the right place to show it!.