Similar to the retail, tourism, education and hospitality sectors, your ‘audience’ should remain at the forefront of all your marketing efforts however when it comes to the museum scene, the word audience doesn’t fully describe the modern museum visitor.
Increasingly we are living digital lives where we aren’t only spectators, but participants engaged not only in museums themselves, but also what they are up to online and across their social channels. Of course modern museum consumers don’t only engage on social (they do still visit bricks and mortar museums) however museums need to take into consideration this shift in consumer behaviour and cater to their lifestyle.
When museums are planning events, exhibitions and marketing campaigns, it’s important to not only consider the typical museum audience but more importantly, participants who engage with the museum online as arguably they are the majority nowadays.
Back in November 2015, the UK government announced it’s spending plans for the next four years and whilst the museum industry expected cuts of 30-40%, the core funding for National Museums and Arts Council England was completely frozen for four years alongside huge cuts to the local authorities (one of the main funders of regional museums). As a result, it was down to museums to think digitally and reach more of their audience where they spend a great deal of their time - online.
For years, galleries and museums both in the UK and internationally have struggled with how to deal with an increase in digitally savvy museum fans and back in 2015, Twitter launched the first international #MuseumWeek with two main goals in mind - to encourage the public (both museums fans and others) to participate in a community initiative and to bring a ‘global dimension to the event’. Contrary to speculation, Museum Week doesn’t intend to change the habits of millennials and turn them into ‘culture vultures’ the aim is to educate, introduce us to new museums we may not have known about and celebrate art and culture around the world.
With more than 3000 museums and galleries from more than 69 countries taking part in the 2016 museum week from the Guggenheim Museum in New York City through to the Louvre in Paris, the 2016 Museum Week made it the most successful one yet. Taking place across 7 days with 7 unique hashtags, it kicked off on Monday the 28th of March with #secretsMW.
Dedicated to Museums’ best-kept secrets, day one revealed Frank Lloyd Wright wanted to name the Guggenheim the Archeseum, the Met in New York is home to the old piano in history created by the inventor of the piano and each of the sculptures in the Hammer Museum LA has it’s own preferred sleeping position. (crazy but cool).
This day was dedicated to honour the people who have helped make the museum and saw Vila Musea and ALAS (Association for the Study and Conservation of Lepidoptera and Odonata) getting involved to celebrate their team.
Introducing the story of museum and gallery buildings, gardens and neighbourhoods as well as key parts of museums, day three was designed to showcase each museum from a different viewpoint that people may not know.
Day four was where museums and galleries focused on their cultural heritage allowing their engaged audiences to discover the content it has on view both in the museums, in storage and online.
Arguably one of our favourites of the week (hey we love technology and innovation), this day allowed the museums to share innovative projects, any barriers to entry and and future goals to give their fans more of an insight into what to expect next.
Day six allowed galleries and museums to zoom into their content and provide an insight into the collections the museum has to offer.
Closing the Museum Week with the love Museum Week hashtag, the final day provided museums and galleries the opportunity to promote their greatest and most famous attractions including artwork, exhibitions and display rooms.
After finishing two weeks ago, the #MuseumWeek hashtag was used more than 650,000 times and tweets from the campaign had been seen more than 294 million times both on and outside Twitter - view the heatmap here. With these stats in mind, it shows how effective a Twitter campaign can be in reaching new audiences as well as existing and encourage them to become more engaged with and visit museums and galleries more often.