With social media, it’s all about opportunity. There are new platforms sprouting, old platforms dwindling and changes in the middle. It’s a constant research project, where those running brands have to be aware of what’s happening before anyone else.
A few months ago while sifting through my Seesmic stream I came across a new hashtag under my search for “museum,” #askacurator (This, along with other real-time searches, allows me to monitor hot topics and new opportunities for both BG and our clients). I responded to the tweet on behalf of our client, The San Diego Museum of Art saying that we’d like to participate. After a few email correspondences with the coordinator, we were officially signed up for an event where John Marciari, Curator of European Art and Head of Provenance Research at the Museum, would take over tweeting for one day.
On September 1, The Museum took part in the international Twitter event, #askacurator day. Following the success of #followamuseum day, the initiator, Jim Richardson from Sumo in the UK decided to take it from a proactive stance to a reactive one, encouraging museums and institutions to put a curator in the Twitter seat for a day allowing followers to connect in a new way.
While this form of communication is nothing new to any social media strategist, the outcome was impressive. Over 300 museums in 23 different countries partook in the event, putting art fans in direct connection with the top curators around the world. A few hours into the day, #askacurator was the #1 trending topic in the world.
While Mr. Richardson is still collecting data on the success of the event, we’ve put together our own data from our experience with #askacurator.
We’d have to agree with Jim Richardson’s assessment that Twitter may not be the best tool to use for the back-and-forth conversations moving forward, but the overall movement did create new opportunities for us to be introduced to international art fans, be recognized as a leading institution in social media and establish our curators as knowledgeable and accessible.
Most participating institutions chose to only respond to tweets that were directed to them through a tweet, and didn’t go beyond the designated 140 characters within their answers. John Marciari preferred to give a full response using the Museum’s blog, The Gallery. This way, individuals unable to partake in the event are able to see the questions and full responses whenever they’d like.
And the outcome:
Traditional Media Coverage: LA Times and San Diego CityBeat were among a few publications that included The San Diego Museum of Art as a participating institution. This inclusion helps the Museum gain recognition as a leader in social media and acts as an introduction to a new audience.
The Gallery Blog Views: From September 1 through September 3, there were 140 click-throughs to the blog from Twitter and Facebook.
New Followers: In three days, SDMA acquired 200 new followers. While other more recognizable institutions may see this growth regularly, we’ve been growing at a steady pace of about 200 followers every month.
@Replies and RTs: We didn’t notice much of a difference in the interactions geared toward the Museum, however many participating individuals only used the hashtag and didn’t direct questions to specific institutions. Perhaps as more museums join the platform and marketers like Jim Richardson look into new facets of museum marketing, we can hone in on direct communication. During the day, with so many people using the hashtag, it was easy to lose track of a conversation. We will say that the quality of tweets geared toward the Museum was on a high caliber and for that, we are appreciative.
Overall, I’m optimistic about the outcome of this event. I think Jim Richardson is really onto something and it’s refreshing to know that common misconceptions regarding the availability and accessibility of curators is changing due to tools like Twitter. In the meantime, I’ll continue to keep my eyes wide open for more opportunities that present themselves within the social media sphere.