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Using Social Media for Your Museum – Is it Worth It?

I’m a fairly private person, so it has taken me a while to warm up to social media. I’ve only been on Facebook for three years (yes, only three!), and I only have about 100 friends (yes, only 100!). I haven’t yet sent my first tweet or created a profile on LinkedIn. But even so, social media has now become a daily part of my life. I check out what my friends and favorite organizations are doing every day. I watch everything and anything on YouTube. I log on to Pinterest when I’m in need of aesthetic nourishment. In short, I can interact at the level I want, with the content I want – and I have tailored my social media use to fit my life.

So how do museums fit into this picture? Even though, by many standards, I’m a social media newbie and minimalist, I am engaged with the world virtually in many ways I couldn’t be offline. Often, I only learn about new animals at the zoo or what happened this day in history or an event I really want to attend at our local museum through social media. This, I suppose, is the crucial point. I don’t have to search for the news – it comes to me. And it makes me feel connected to these people, sites and organizations on a personal level because they are taking the time to share their world with me.

Even if I hadn’t decided to sign on, social media is here to stay. The sites may change, and perhaps Facebook (currently with 1.06 billion monthly active users), Twitter (500 million users), YouTube (4 billion views per day), Flickr (8 billion photos) and others will be replaced by new outlets in the years to come (data source: Digital Marketing Ramblings). But no matter the platform, museums who want to continue to engage with their audiences in creative ways are using social media to achieve this. Of course, social media can never replace the value of face-to-face communication and the authentic experience in a physical space, and it won’t reach everyone. Yet these virtual platforms, when used well, can be powerful tools to help you make new friends and keep more people connected to your museum.

Here are a few interesting resources to check out:

Do you use social media for your museum or history organization? Share your thoughts with us below or on our Local History Services Facebook page. Like us and we’ll like you back! And watch for our first tweet soon!

I hope you already like the IHS Facebook page. If you're on Twitter, you can follow IHS at @IndianaHistory.



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