DEVELOPING A SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN FOR THE HARN MUSEUM OF ART:
AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA BY AMERICANMUSEUMS
A PROJECT-IN-LIEU-OF-THESIS PRESENTED TO THE
COLLEGE OF JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATIONS
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
2010 by Adrienne Fletcher
This is dedicated to my friends and family for their patience, support and encouragement and
to my two grandfathers, remarkable scholars and accomplished academics who passed away
during the completion of this project.
There are several people whom I would like to extend my gratitude. First, I would like to
acknowledge my committee chairperson, Dr. Moon Lee, for her determination and patience and
for challenging me to reach my fullest potential. Without her guidance, my research would not
have been nearly as extensive. I also would like to thank the other University of Florida faculty
members who served on my supervisory committee. Dr. Glenn Willumson and Dr. Juan-Carlos
Molleda provided insightful suggestions that shaped the development of my research.
I would like to express my utmost appreciation to Sarah Sain and Courtney Dell. Mrs.
Sain graciously lent me long hours of her time to help me with editing, and it is with Mrs. Dell's
continued guidance that kept me organized from the start.
I also would like to thank my intern supervisors, Tami Wroath at the Harn Museum of
Art and Kristen Boylston at the Telfair Museum of Art, for providing me the opportunities to
learn firsthand about the professional work of public relations in the museum field.
A special thank you goes out to Jody Hedge, program assistant for the Division of
Graduate Studies. I am pretty sure she is the glue that holds the whole department together and
an invaluable resource for every graduate student.
I also would like to thank my friends and family members for their generous help and
encouragement along the way.
Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank my parents. Their belief in the
success of my relentless undertakings and support of all my passionate aspirations continuously
gets me through the challenges of life. I hope I can make them proud.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKN OW LEDGM EN TS .................................................................................4
L IS T O F T A B L E S ............................................................................................7
LIST OF FIGURES ....................................................................................... .. 8
AB STRA CT .................................................................9.....................
1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................. .. 11
2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................................................... .. 15
The Role of Public Relations as Relationship Management ................ ............15
W eb 2.0 and Social M edia .............................................................. 16
Social M edia effects on Public Relations..................................... ............17
Potential Benefits and Costs of Social Media................................ ...........20
Museums and the Building of Online Relationships ........................ ............23
M easurem ent .................................. ..... ......... ...... .......... ............25
Suggested Characteristics of a Successful Social Media Strategic Plan...............27
3 M ETHODOLGY ......................................................................................29
Research Objectives ................................................................... .. 29
M ethods .................................................................................. .. 31
Survey Population and Sample Frame......................................... ............31
Survey Instrument Design ............................................................... 35
Survey Data Collection..................................... 38
Interview Population and Sample Frame..................................... ............38
Interview Instrument Design ............................................................ 39
Interview Data Collection ............................................................... 40
4 RESULTS ...............................................................................................42
Profile of Respondents ................................................................ .. 42
Research Question 1 .................................................................. .. 44
Research Question 2 ................................................................. ..51
Research Question 3 ................................................................... .. 58
Summary of Interviews .............................................................. .. 60
M useum Practitioners ............................................................ 60
Public Relation Practitioners ...................................................... 67
5 DISCU SSION ........................................................................................ .. 70
D discussion of R esults.................. ........................................ ............70
Im p location s...................................................................... ............7 3
F or th e F ield .............................................................. .......... . 73
For the Harn M useum of Art............. .... .................... 75
L im stations of the Study ....................................................... ............77
Suggestions for Future Research .......................... ................... ......... ....... 79
Conclusion .................................................................................... .. 81
SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN FOR THE HARN MUSEUM OF ART ........... ...........82
A INFORM ED CONSENT .......................................................... .......... 134
B SURVEY QUESTIONAIRE ....................................................... 138
C PRE-SURVEY REMINDER NOTICE.................................... .............. 146
D COVER LETTER .................................................................. .......... 147
E M USEUM DEM OGRAPHICS......................................... ......... .......... 148
F RESULTS TABLES ............................................................... .......... 150
L IST O F R E FER EN C E S ........................................................ ........... ...........153
B IO G R A PH ICA L SK E TCH ..........................................................................159
LIST OF TABLES
4-1 Annual operating budget divisions ...................... ............................ .... 150
4-2 N um ber of paid staff .............................................................................. 150
4-3 Mean scores for frequency of use .........................................................61
4-4 Mean scores for importance social media elements ....................................... 62
4-5 Mean scores for importance of target museum audiences. .............................. 150
4-6 Mean scores for social media sites effectiveness...........................................151
4-7 Mean scores for factors needed for social media effectiveness. ...........................69
4-8 Mean scores for factors influencing engagement from online publics......................71
4-9 Responses to familiarity and use of measurement tools................................... 152
4-10 Frequency of measurement taken on social media efforts..................................75
LIST OF FIGURES
2-1 "Hierarchy of Social Participation" pyramid.................................................29
4-1 M useum Type Pie Chart....................................................................... 148
4-2 Museum Regions Pie Chart ....................................... ................ .......... 148
4-3 Museum Annual Attendance Pie Chart................................... .............. 149
4-4 Museum Size Divisions Pie Chart......... .......................................149
"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people, than you can
in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." -Dale Carnegie
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication
DEVELOPING A SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN FOR THE HARN MUSEUM OF ART:
AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA BY AMERICAN
Chair: Moon Lee
Major: Mass Communication
With museums across the United States slashing budgets and cutting programs, it has
become important for museums to retain strong relationships with their visitors. Social media
offers the potential for this in its ability to promote engagement and dialogic communication.
This exploratory study used a survey of 315 museum practitioners and nine in-depth interviews
to examine how American museums are currently using social media and its perceived
effectiveness, in order to make recommendations for a social media plan for the Ham Museum of
Social media use does seem to differ by museum size, but in general respondents believe
that it is important to use social media and that it is improving the speed of communication with
museum publics. The majority of museums are using 1-2 staff members to work on their social
media efforts for an average of 45 minutes a day and targeting both new and current visitors
equally, but concentrating specifically on young professionals and families. For the moment,
museums are primarily involved with one-way communication strategies, using mostly Facebook
and Twitter to focus on event listing, reminders, reaching larger or newer audiences, and
However, there does seem to be some evidence to suggest that museums are trying to
increase their use of social media for more two-way and multi-way communication strategies.
Those who describe their social media efforts as successful or very successful- tend to use social
media for more dialogic types of engagement efforts than respondents with less social media
success. According to the results of the online survey, quality of content and type of site used are
believed to motivate engagement from online publics. From the interviews, however, quality of
content, direct calls for participation, and most importantly being "fun" are perceived as the
highest motivators. Time, staff, and an understanding of key publics online are seen by
respondents as needed most to achieve optimal social media effectiveness.
Museums around the country are feeling the pinch from the current economic crisis in the
United States. However, since the downturn also has affected their visitors, donors and
volunteers, now is not the time for museums to cut back expenses for public relations and
marketing communication efforts. It is time for museums to take control of their spending, not
just reduce it, and start looking to new opportunities currently presented to them by this situation.
One of these opportunities is to explore the capabilities social media may have to offer museums.
As a result of the economic downturn, sources of museum income such as endowment
income, corporate sponsorship, foundation grants, public funding from tax revenue, and
individual philanthropy, as well as visitor numbers and purchases have all gone down, while at
the same time museum costs have continued to increase (Houghton, 2009; Kaufman, Jan. 8,
2009; Solnik, 2009; Sarmiento, 2008; Vogel, 2008; Ellis & Forbes, 2003). Any one of these on
its own would not be as bad but all of them together build up as a significant loss (Erik Neil,
cited in Solnik, 2009). The inevitable response to the lost of revenues has been layoffs, pay cuts,
hiring freezes, service cuts, and the downsizing, canceling or delaying of projects, acquisitions
As a medium-size museum located in Gainesville, Florida, the Samuel P. Ham Museum
of Art has definitely been affected by the recession. Faced with lower revenue projections for
fiscal year 2010, significant decline in state and private support, along with decreased
endowment revenues, a thorough review of all museum costs was undertaken. As a result
budgetary cuts were made that affected each department in some way. Currently marketing and
development is the second highest expense for the museum after personnel expenses (Samuel P.
Ham, 2009). Not surprisingly, therefore, advertising at local, regional, national and international
levels for specific exhibitions and events has been either reduced or eliminated altogether.
Despite all of these financial cuts, Sid Liebenson (2009), executive vice president and
director of marketing at Draftfcb, the world's third largest advertising conglomerate according
Hoovers, said now is not the time to cut marketing spending. Instead messages should be
personalized and continuously exposed to key audiences as they currently consider how to spend
their time and financial resources (p. 10).
It is in this context that the Ham Museum of Art and other small- to medium-size
museums facing current financial challenges can turn to the opportunities presented by the use of
social media (Black, 2005). Social media is a type of media designed to be dispersed through
online social interactions and takes on a variety of forms including social networking sites, blogs,
wikis, podcasts, photo and video sharing, social bookmarking, and virtual environments. Some
examples of these are Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
There are several advantages to using social media. It is easily accessible and can work
with limited marketing budgets. By their dialogic nature social media tools can be used to easily
personalize communications and incorporate many two-way communication principles as
integral parts of marketing and relationship building in this new era of technology-centered
culture (Solis, 2007). Social media allows for instantaneous dissemination, making
communication, and most importantly, social media provides access to a widespread global
audience, expanding any organization's overall reach. Social media is not without drawbacks
though. There are transparency issues, it requires staff time, and if accounts are set up but not
managed or content not worked on, audiences will quickly lose interest and their involvement
will become passive at best (Waters, et al., 2009; Chan, 2008).
Needless to say museums all over have started delving into the different forms of social
media such as Facebook, Del.icio.us, Twitter, podcasting and the use of blogging. According to
www.musesphere.com/Facebook, as of September 2009, there are at least 55 U.S. museums and
at least 33 international museums with groups on Facebook and at least 10 museums on Second
Life. There were 495 venues found on Twitter as of September 2009. During the same month,
the Museum of Modern Art in New York was most followed on Twitter with 39,562 followers.
Many museums already have links to these options straight on their website's home pages.
Social media and two-way communication require effort, strategy and monitoring, should
be an active task, and compliment not supplement non Web-based public relations efforts
(Waters, et al., 2009). It presents the opportunities for museums to expand the reach of
communication efforts to new audiences, deepen relationships with its current audiences and
increase engagement with all of their audiences, who, at the Harn Museum, are after all the main
source of revenue for the museum (Samuel P. Harn, 2009). Directors at the Harn Museum of Art
understand that social media is important and are interested in finding ways to utilize social
media, but currently have no social media strategic plan and have limited time and resources.
For smaller to medium size museums, like the Ham, looking to create a social media
plan, questions on the subject of implementation are everywhere. How much social media
involvement does my museum need to get into, in order to see benefits? Do we have to engage in
all forms of social media? What are the costs? How much extra time will this take? These are the
types of questions the research for this project investigates.
The purpose of this project is to research the most effective and efficient methods of
utilizing social media for the particular needs of the Harn Museum and to ultimately create a
strategic social media plan.
The Role of Public Relations as Relationship Management
Public relations has been progressively talked about in terms of relationship management
(Broom, Casey, & Ritchey, 2000; Bruning & Ledingham, 1999, 2000; Coombs, 2001; Cutlip,
Center, & Broom, 2000; J. Grunig & Huang, 2000; Ledingham & Bruning, 1998). According to
John A. Ledingham (2003), relationship management deals with "effectively managing
organization-public relationships around common interests and shared goals, over time, [which]
results in mutual understanding and benefit" for both parties (p. 190). The challenge for public
relations practitioners is in creating incentives for their key audiences to become engaged in this
type of relationship. Often this means having an organization offer products or services that go
beyond the desired level of satisfaction of their publics in order to acquire continued instrumental
benefits (Thomlison, 2000). It also means building loyalty that often cannot be earned through
material or economic benefit, but rather through long-term demonstrations of commitment and
genuine interchange (Thomlison, 2000).
Loyalty and relationship management is particularly important to organizations with
publics "whom its success or failure depends on" (Cutlip, Center, & Broom, 1985, p. 6). In the
case of small- to medium-size museums, they would not be able to continue to exist without
visitors, donors and volunteers. In the last decade the definition of relationship management has
included an emphasis on maintenance and growth. Kent and Taylor (2002) recommend using a
dialogic approach when looking to expand on a relationship. Maintenance should include
keeping up with current trends in communication used by key audiences. In fact, Bruning,
Castle, and Schrepfer (2004) stated that "failure to adapt to key public member communication
expectations will strain dialogue and often undermine an organization's ability to determine
common interests and goals" (p. 443). An emphasis on maintenance is important because as
current marketing theory will support, it is much cheaper to keep a customer -whether that be a
visitor, donor, volunteer- than to attract a new one (Hon & Grunig, 1999, p. 24). Repeat visitors
are vital to the success of all museums (Black, 2005).
Hon and Grunig (1999) expanded on what makes a successful relationship by laying out a
list of guidelines. Three notable recommendations are positivity, openness and networking.
Positivity is described as anything that "either party does to make the relationship more
enjoyable for the parties involved" (p. 17). Openness refers to "thoughts and feelings among
parties involved" (p. 17) and encourages a system of balances where the organization is able to
more effectively learn how to meet the needs of their audiences. Networking involves
"organizations building coalitions with the same groups that their publics do" (Hon and Grunig,
1999, p. 17). Following these recommendations, trust, satisfaction, and commitment are three
outcomes that can be expected out of a successful relationship.
Bruning, Castle, and Schrepfer (2004) conducted a study of what factors in organization-
public relationships were linked to satisfaction and behavior intent. Personal commitment ranked
highest among these. For success in relationship building then, an emphasis should be placed on
using strategies that "personalize" the organization to their key audiences (p. 443).
Web 2.0 and Social Media
The term Web 2.0 started appearing in 2004 and refers to how the Internet has become
more of a tool that empowers users to develop, contribute to, rate, collaborate on, customize and
distribute web content (Wunsch-Vincent, 2007; O'Reilly, 2005). The product of what is
generated by users is more specifically labeled user created content (UCC) and has enabled
anyone with Internet access to be able to make decisions about how, when and to what extent
they view Web content. It used to be that only editors could control what news would be
highlighted. Now people have the power to be more selective in their media consumption
(Wunsch-Vincent, 2007). As media critic Jay Rosen (2006) described the change, "[the
audience] has transitioned from wanting media when they want it, to wanting it without the filler,
to wanting media to be better than it is, to publishing and broadcasting themselves when it meets
a need or sounds like fun."
The democratic spread of information caused by UCC and the Internet has paved the way
for the ability of user independence, diversity, and interactivity to reach new levels, while
created new outlets for people to be able to challenge organizations on matters of integrity,
transparency, and accountability (Wunsch-Vincent, 2007).
The category of Web sites based on this type of user participation and exchange or
sharing of user created content is called social media. Examples of social media range from
social sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr to social networking sites such as Facebook.
Characteristics of social media have influenced relationship maintenance as it provides
opportunities for more personal forms of communication.
Social Media effects on Public Relations
For public relations professionals, social media has made massive changes directly
impacting traditional practices (Wright & Hinson, 2009; Brown, 2009; Wright & Hinson, 2008;
Key 2005). It is changing communications from messaging, which is unidirectional, to dialog,
which infers between two or more people (Wright & Hinson, 2009), as it is about speaking
"with" others, not "to" or "at" them as traditional forms of media (Solis, 2007, p. 4). Instead of
audiences just receiving a message, social media promotes active participation from all players
through interactivity, and allows much more control to the message receivers. Online tools now
allow the public to be able to filter and choose which messages they would like to pay attention
to (Evans, 2008). In order to influence primary constituents on key points, public relations
practitioners must understand how constituents gather, share and communicate information in
order to incorporate those methods into their communication strategies (Key, 2005).
Traditionally, agenda setting and persuasion as a way to affect attitudes and hopefully to
affect corresponding relative behaviors, was also put into the hands of the public relations
practitioners and the media (Zoch & Molleda, 2006). However social media is forcing
practitioners to approach these methods differently. As word of mouth has always been one of
the, if not the most, influential forms of persuasion (Evans, 2008), social media's heavy reliance
on interactivity and dialogue has only intensified peer credibility and reliance. With audience
selectivity, persuasion becomes more challenging as it is they, not public relations practitioners
nor the media, who are becoming the "new power influencers" (Warner, 2009, p. 2).
Blogging is a type of social media in the form of online journaling. Many bloggers are
displacing traditional public relation practitioner roles of influentialss" or "opinion leaders," as
blogs are able to bypass traditional media and, therefore, also bypass the traditional agendas set
by the media or public relation practitioners (Wright & Hinson, 2009, p. 7). Blogging is one of
the most popular social media services and the number of bloggers is still rapidly increasing for
people of all ages (Pavlik, 2007). According to a 2008 report by www.emarketer.com, more than
67 percent of the U.S. Internet population will be reading blogs at least once per month by 2012,
so it is important for practitioners to adapt strategies to reflect these changes in audience
influentials. Podcasts, video blogs (vlogs) and micro-blogging are other forms of online
journaling. Of these, Twitter, a type of micro-blogging, has been listed in the top 10 best
websites in 2009 by Time Magazine (Time, 2009), and is also one of the fastest growing sites
There are a variety of other forms of social media. Social networks include Bebo,
Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Ning, with Facebook as the largest social networking site
with 300 million active users as of Sept. 2009 (Lorica, 2009). YouTube. Shutterbug,
Photobucket, and Flickr are examples of photo or video sharing. Several museums have used
Flickr to not only post images of their collections for people to explore but to also give their
audiences the ability to choose what exactly they would like to see as opposed to how objects are
chosen for them to see on display in person (Mark, 2008). Wikipedia and MuseumsWiki are
examples of wikis and are designed to enable users to contribute or modify content, as a
collaborative document. By creating a wiki, museums can offer several layers of active
participation by their audiences, including providing the opportunity for people to share their
own knowledge of specific objects when possible. Delicious, Digg, Stumble Upon and other
social bookmarking sites can be used a way of storing, sharing, and searching links through the
use of tags or keywords. Social media also includes virtual worlds such as Second Life or The
Many public relations practitioners have already starting tapping into these digital tools.
According to Wright and Hinson (2008), about two-thirds of practitioners believe that social
media, when used complimentarily with traditional mediums, has enhanced public relations as a
field. Blogs and podcasts in particular are widely used by practitioners overall (Eyrich, Padman,
& Sweetser, 2008). GM Motors is in the Top 10 of corporate blogs and has built its own channel
so they do not need to rely on traditional media to publish its news releases (Papworth, 2008, p.
12). Meanwhile, social networking sites have become increasingly popular for public relations
practitioners working in areas such as political campaigns. The lead staff member on President
Obama's social media campaign team was one of four founders of Facebook, Chris Hughes
(Stelter, 2008). For public relations practitioners, disregarding current communication trends and
not tapping into these digital tools, will have a severe impact on their future success and survival
(Brown, 2009; Evans, 2008).
Potential Benefits and Costs of Social Media
Although social media is more about public relations and building positive relationships
(Maruggi, 2008), many outcome-focused directors understand effectiveness of program or
projects more clearly in terms of its return on investment (ROI), or monetary value. In order to
present a case for why their museum should begin using social media, it would be beneficial for
public relations practitioners to be able to talk to their directors with this approach in mind.
Unfortunately, there is no one method of calculating monetary value of social media for
an organization. It depends on the individual organization and how they define social media
success (Peters, 2008). Saying that, the use of social media is virtually free (Simon, 2007). There
are no fees to join or maintain most of the sites mentioned, making it an easier tool to work with
limited budgets. There is also no space limitation or costs associated with online storing (Black,
2005). Wallace (2009) pointed out that during rough financial times, the use of social media and
the Internet could be used to pay for less print ads, while not reducing the quantity of outputs by
the marketing department.
The Australian Museum has been experimenting with saving financial resources on
marketing with their 2009 Eureka Prizes (Kelly, 2009). Instead of spending the usual amount of
around $10,000 -$15,000 on media coverage, the museum is using social media to make
announcements in the lead up to the final gala. It has saved additional costs of postage, printing
and staff time (Kelly, 2009). There were frequent calls for feedback on their Twitter page and an
opportunity to discuss the topic on Facebook as well.
Some museums have begun to experiment with using social media to increase
membership purchases. The Brooklyn Museum started an online membership drive called
"lstfans" in the beginning of 2009 using social networking sites (Cary, 2008). It is described on
its Web site as a "socially networked" Museum Membership, separate from the regular
membership. The membership costs $20 a year and offers members access to exclusive events at
the museums monthly Target First Saturdays when they are able to interact with each other, staff
and contemporary artists. Updates to "1 stfans" members can be sent via Facebook, Flickr or an
e-newsletter, whichever is preferred, and also offer insights from museum staff on hot topics in
the art world. As of September 2009, there were more than 200 members on the paid members-
only Twitter Art Feed, generating over $400 in additional revenue.
Although there have been successful cases documented of other types of non-profit
organizations (Schwartz, 2009), e-philanthropy in general is still new to museums and research is
being conducted to investigate its potentials. In a study of 147 organizations, current online
giving made up just 1 percent of total contributions (Lazar & Clark, 2007). However, there are
projections that eventually e-philanthropy will make up 33 percent of all donations and should
not be discarded quickly (Lazar & Clark, 2007). Results from the 2007 Orinda Group's Revenue
Generation Survey indicated that there is a positive correlation between the quantity of emails on
a listserv and online museum revenue, but specific details of online giving habits need to be
Setting the financial aspects aside, there are a number of advantages to using social media
that can be presented to outcome driven directors. Social media allows for quicker gathering of
strategic publics' inputs and opinions, which the museum can then save on costs by eliminating
or changing programs that are not working efficiently or not meeting public wants and needs
(Maruggi, 2008). Happy and well-informed publics are also likely to decrease customer service
call costs (Benson & Parker, 2009). Since the process is instantaneous, many practitioners also
believe that utilization of social media has made communications and response times, from
organizations to their audiences, faster (Wright and Hinson, 2009). Perhaps the revival in a more
dialogic approach to audience communication will also be able to help breakdown the long-lived
reputation of elitism (David, 1999) that art museums often deal with, and instead encouraging
growth of the museum audience.
Another advantage of engaging in social media has to do with reach. According to a 2009
report out by Forrester Research, almost a third of all Americans use a type of social media at
least monthly (Ostrow, 2009) and online communities are visited by 67 percent of the global
online population (Nielsen, 2009). Any medium taking up these many numbers should pose an
interest for organizations looking to increase their audiences. As nonprofit organizations have
had difficulty establishing their importance in society, it is crucial for museums to be able to
reach and continue to establish stronger bonds with their current and new visitors, whom
themselves are getting more involved with social media. There is also more of an emphasis
placed on listening during this type of communication than with other forms, which allows for
relationships to strengthen (Caughill, 2009; Solis, 2009; Evans, 2008; Lord & Lord, 1997).
However, social media presents its own unique set of problems as well. Wright and
Hinson's 2008 study indicated an increasing trend in practitioners who believed that it is not
ethical to write negative statements about the organizations they work for in a blog. However, if
only positive statements are made, this may hinder the appearance of transparency in the long
run. The study also concluded that less than half of respondents expect social media to be honest
and credible. Liability issues also come into question depending on the organization's legal
The largest disadvantage of social media is that it does require time to implement
effectively (Peters, 2008; Lazar & Clark, 2007). Unlike traditional marketing where once an
advertisement is sent to the media, the organization no longer deals with it, social media has to
be continually worked on (Caughill, 2009; Evans, 2008). It takes time to maintain social media
sites, as content should be updated regularly. Also, there is the time it takes for staff members
unfamiliar with how social media sites operate to learn how to work them most efficiently. As a
communication method intended to engage dialog, it can easily become ineffective if only used
for one-way messaging to audiences (Waters, et al., 2009; Chan, 2008). The biggest loss of time,
and therefore money, would be for organizations to try to set up the use of social media for their
organizations but then not understand or follow the guidelines for social media effectiveness
(Waters, et al., 2009).
Museums and the Building of Online Relationships
In general, museums act apprehensively toward change, especially change that creates a
shift away from traditional forms of operation. Museums traditionally work as a place of
asymmetrical learning, using an absorption-transmission model of teaching and focusing
inwardly on the care and study of their collections (Falk, 1999). Slowly, many have begun to
focus more on educating and meeting the needs of the public. In order to be successful in these
endeavors though, museums need to take steps to get to know the wants and needs of their
visitors and communities. The personalization of communications offered by social media has
the potential to help museums create deeper relationships with their visitors.
Motivation is important for museums to consider when seeking to build online
relationships. Often there is a "build it and they will come' attitude towards the use of social
media (Russo & Peacock, 2009, T 2). However, creating social media opportunities for museum
publics does not mean they will come participate in them. Once the time is taken to learn about
the methods of social media and a familiar understanding of them is established, a specific social
media strategy should to be developed (Russo & Peacock, 2009). In it, providing some type of
motivation for key audiences as part of the practice, whether it be of material or of intrinsic
value, should be considered (Russo & Peacock, 2009; Trant, 2009).
Waterson (2006) combined the results of five case studies looking into what motivates
people to participate in online communities in general. The Top 5 motives for involvement were
"seeking information for personal benefit; opportunities to exchange ideas and find solutions to
problems; fun; opportunity for dialogue; opportunity to help others" (Waterson, 2006, p. 334).
Characteristics of online services can also influence motives (Marty, 2007). For example, overall
quality of content seems to be important to audiences (Warner, 2009). Efforts to improve content
quality may more positively influence active participation, rather than efforts to increase quantity
of social media uses (Marty 2007). Nielsen (2006) described a '90:9:1 rule' for social media,
where one percent of users do the majority of contributions, nine percent contribute from time to
time, and the other 90 percent of users are those who are more likely to just observe. This
explains the importance of content quality and credibility, as the important part is to be able to
still influence the 90 percent who are just watching. Likewise, "if the content is good, messages
will be spread via users. If it doesn't spread, it's dead" (Warner, 2009, p. 2).
Online engagement of audiences can be increased as well when the experience
compliments their physical visit. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in 2008,
conducted a study looking into what relationship, if any, was currently happing with visitors of
libraries and museums online and in-person. The results indicated that not only is the Internet not
replacing in-person visits to libraries and museums, but it may actually be positively related to
in-person visits. While online efforts can focus on features that are uniquely offered online, such
as exclusive interviews on podcasts or video blogs, "people continue to find value in traveling to
the actual museum" (Mouw & Spock, 2007). In this way, when the virtual and physical museum
spaces play off each other, there becomes an additional reason to visit both (Marty, 2007).
Nina Simon (2007) extended further the levels of engagement between visitors and
museums by proposing a "hierarchy of social participation" that museums can work towards (see
Figure 2-1). The pyramid has five levels progressing from "museum to me," "museum with me,"
"me & me & me & museum," "me-to-we," to "we in museum." The levels begin with more of a
receptive interaction with the museum and move to not only a social interaction with the
museum but also turns the museum into a host that connects visitors to each other. The
communication moves from one-way, to two-way, to ultimately multi-way communication.
Russo and Peacock (2009) linked the pyramid with the Forrester Group's "Ladder of
Participation." After surveying how people were using the web, the group came up with six
different categories of participation (Li, 2006). The categories moved in six levels from being
inactive, to those labeled as spectators (read blogs, watch peer-generated videos and listen to
podcasts), to those labeled as creators (publish web pages, publish or maintain a blog, upload
video to sites like YouTube).
Many factors affect engagement with audiences but there is one important factor needed
to rate effectiveness of social media efforts. Effectiveness of social media cannot be evaluated
without the use of measurement (Benson & Parker, 2009). This is why definable goals and
objectives are needed prior to the use of social media so that there are ways to monitor its
success for the organization.
There are multiple methods of measuring social media. Quantitatively, "online
monitoring," "online tracking," "Web tracking," "buzz measurement" and "online analytics"
collect information or observe a situation as it occurs over time. Many of the types of social
media have built in tracking systems, such as Facebook and Flickr Stats. Measurement tools for
Web analytics include Google Analytics, StatCounter and getclicky. Free social media
measurement tools include Google Alerts and SearchTwitter.com; professional services include
Techrigy, Radian6 and TruCast.
Qualitatively speaking, there are social search tools such as Delver, WhosTalkin?,
Samepoint, Socialmention, Serph and OneRiot, which help track the types of online
conversations being said about an organization on other online sites. As public relations is about
measuring relationships, it is important to be able to follow and analyze mentions, tone,
sentiment and excitement in online communications.
Seb Chan (2008), head of digital, social & emerging technologies at the Powerhouse
Museum in Sydney, suggested that the use of social media should be "measured in terms of
'meaningful use' and traditional 'conversions', or calls to action" (T 43). Measuring "conversions"
would require the measurement of "task completion tracking" or "special offers take up rates"
(Chan, 2008, T 43). An example of this would be to create something online that visitors would
need to print and present when they come in person. Whether they are qualitative or quantitative,
deciding on which method of measurement is best, depends on the kind of objectives set by the
organization as to what will be considered effective or a success.
Suggested Characteristics of a Successful Social Media Strategic Plan
Before moving on to primary sources, there are countless informal suggestions for
starting or implementing a social media plan already written about that can help towards
effectiveness. The following are few of the dominant themes.
Joel Frey, senior public relations manager at Travelocity, suggests "exercising good
judgment and resist the urge to match wits with a sarcastic person" (Cited in Barnes, 2009, T 4).
One of the guidelines recommended by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law (2009) for a
good social media policy, is to include a statement addressing how to identify and manage
conflicts of interest during online engagements (p. 7).
Interactivity makes a difference. Results in a 2003 study conducted by Jo and Kim
indicated a positive relationship between the amount of interactivity used with online tools on an
organization-public relationship. The more interactivity used by the public relations practitioners,
the more likely to establish trust with their publics (Jo & Kim, 2003).
According to Adam Christensen, social media communications manager at IBM,
authenticity is also important when using social media (cited in Barnes, 2009). It is important for
audiences to realize that the practitioner is an individual but representing the face of an
organization. Making the organization affiliation known is critical to creating authenticity. Paul
Argenti, professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, has said to this issue that
representation needs to be made clear from the start (cited in Barnes, 2009).
He reminded practitioners that this means applying appropriate discretion in all online
communication. Organizational legal policies should be made clear as to how they affect social
media usage. Along these lines, the recommendations by Russell Herder and Ethos Business
Law (2009) also suggested to include "guidelines that reinforce the company's policies
surrounding confidential and proprietary information in a social media environment" (p. 7).
Christiansen also pointed out that internally, motivation for staff members to participate
in the organization's social media efforts is also important (cited in Barnes, 2009). Employees
should have the opportunity to be involved in the social media policy writing process so that they
are more likely to be excited about it. At IBM, employees actually helped to write their social
media plan using a wiki.
Finally it is important to keep in mind that word of mouth and earned media are two key
parts of any social media plan (Kapin, 2009). The idea of social media is to be social so that
audiences and other media outlets become interested in the organization. It is about creating a
"buzz" around the organization so that others begin spreading positive words about an
organization amongst themselves, outside from direct contact with the organization. Kapin
(2009) encouraged non-profits to start small by putting aside just 15 minutes a day to spend
using two main online social media channels. Although for a small- to medium-sized museum,
getting into social media as a way of reaching and continuing to work on relationships with their
key audiences may seem a bit overwhelming, it can be done.
Figure 2-1: Nina Simon's "Hierarchy of Social Participation" pyramid (2007).
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From the literature review, three research questions with eight subset questions are posed
that seek to look into effectiveness, measurement and tactics in the use of social media for
museums. The object of answering these questions is to create a realistic and achievable social
media plan for the Ham Museum based on what is currently working for other museums. It is to
ensure that efforts made on social media sites at the Ham will be the most efficient and effective
to the specific needs and goals of the museum. This research also will contribute to the body of
knowledge in the field, as there have been few studies done on this subject on American
Before being able to make decisions about which types of social media to use at the Ham,
it is necessary to investigate what other museums are currently using and why. If certain types of
social media are proving to be ultimately ineffective as a form of communication with strategic
publics, they will not be included for use in the plan for the Ham museum. Likewise, it would be
helpful to know if certain types of social media have proven effective. Data will be analyzed in
order to see if responses vary by museum size.
RQ1: What are the main uses of social media for American museums?
o RQ1a: For what are the different types of social media being used?
o RQ1b: By whom and how often?
o RQ1c: What publics are museums targeting with social media efforts?
o RQ1d: What types of social media are most effective for museums?
o RQ1e: Do practitioners believe the use of social media has had an influence
on visitor behaviors?
As the literature indicated (Russo & Peacock, 2009), museums have a tendency of setting
up social media sites hoping that the act itself might be enough to encourage online engagement
with their publics. The literature also determined that the act alone is not enough. Therefore, part
of the research is to investigate how museums are achieving success in dialogic engagement and
study the tactics and strategies they are implementing.
RQ2: To what extent are American museums using social media in order to feel that
efforts are effective?
o RQ2a: What are the museums with the highest levels of satisfaction doing?
o RQ2b: Looking at those museums that use social media to engage visitors in
dialogue, what types of tactics are they using?
o RQ2c: Do museums have to engage in all forms of social media in order to be
o RQ2d: Do museums represented by the respondents have any legal policies
regarding social media?
The effectiveness of social media cannot be evaluated without the use of measurement,
and a number of tools exist that can be used for that purpose (Benson & Parker, 2009). A look
into whether or not museums are using these tools will be researched, as will what types of
measurements seem to be most indicative of effective use of social media in order to reach a
better understanding of what kind of planning was done before implementation.
RQ3: What are the most effective methods of social media measurement for
o RQ3a: Which online measuring tools are museums using most often?
o RQ3b: Is there a relationship between museums using measuring tools with
regards to social media and what the museums perceive as successful use?
o RQ3c: How often are measurements being taken?
o RQ3d: Is there a relationship between how satisfied a museum is with its
current social media involvement and whether or not it has measurable goals?
The primary research is concerned with what American museums are doing with social
media and how they are evaluating its use within their organizations. Because of the population
size and geographical breadth, a general survey was selected as being the most suitable for this
study, followed by nine in-depth interviews. Surveys are the most commonly used research
method in public relations (Stacks, 2002). An online survey offers several advantages (Wright,
2005) in that it can save time, reach respondents geographically spread out from each other and it
allows respondents to be able to answer questions at a time most convenient for them. An online
survey will be administered to be able to make generalizations about American museums
currently using social media. Intensive interviews also will be conducted in order to gather a
deeper level of detail on the research questions.
Survey Population and Sample Frame
The population of interest for the general survey is American museums currently using
social media. Unfortunately, there is no official listing of all American museums that currently
use some form of social media. To this extent, there is no information that differentiates the use
of social media between the museums by size, location or type. There are informal lists available
online that have begun to identify museums that use social media. There are lists for specific
social media sites, such as a list of museums on Facebook or Twitter, but there is no combined
list of museums using social media in general. The lists that do exist are not extensive or
consistent as of yet, nor are they regulated by any official organization.
There are, however, more than 17,774 museums identified in the United States in a
database collected in 2002 (Manjarrez & ILMS, 2008) by the Institute of Museum and Library
Services (IMLS). A convenience sample was drawn from several locations in order to reach as
many museums in the United States as possible. The largest make-up of the sample comes from
the list of museums accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM).
For museums that choose to apply, one of the highest distinctions of quality a museum
can achieve is to be awarded AAM accreditation. Representing 776 museums, the association is
the only organization that represents the entire range of museums, including "art, history,
science, military and maritime, and youth museums, as well as aquariums, zoos, botanical
gardens, arboretums, historic sites, and science and technology centers" (AAM, "About AAM,"
n.d.). To qualify for accreditation, a museum must meet a variety of criteria, some of which
include having the financial resources to operate efficiently, being educational in nature, and
using and interpreting objects or a site for presentation to the general public (AAM, 2004). Since
the literature review indicated that there is a good bit of time and effort needed in order to use
social media, the list of AAM accredited museums is a likely starting point in finding American
museums that might be able to afford the resources needed in order to implement a level of
social media use.
A variety of disciplines are represented as accredited by AAM. Art museums and centers
make up 42 percent (AAM, 2010), history museums make up 23 percent, general museums make
up 10 percent, historic sites make up 9 percent, natural history museums make up 7 percent,
science museums and centers make up 4 percent, specialized museums make up 3 percent, and
arboretums/botanical gardens make up 2 percent of AAM-accredited museums. Children's/youth
museums, zoological parks, nature centers and aquariums all account for less than 1 percent
each. The museums are spread out rather evenly across the United States with geographical
distribution between 11 percent and 23 percent across the country's regions.
Operating budgets also vary across accredited museums. Nine percent of the museums
operate on budgets of $350,000 or less (AMM, 2010). Twenty-four percent of museums have
budgets between $350,000 and $999,999, 58 percent between $1 million and $14.9 million and
the remaining 9 percent have an annual budget of more than $15 million.
The number of staff members employed by a museum may have an impact on the extent
to which a museum participates in social media. Having multiple paid staff members who can
allocate time to working on social media for a museum can increase the ability of museums to
fully utilize social media. AAM does not supply figures for the specific titles of museum staff to
be able to determine who might be able to work on the use of social media, but it does give
statistics for the number of staff members. About three-fourths of accredited museums have 30
paid staff members or fewer (AMM, 2010). Twenty-three percent of museums have between 31
and 100 staff members, 11 percent of museums have between 101 and 200 staff members and
just 6 percent employ more than 200 people. Twelve museums did not report staff numbers.
Since the list of AAM accredited museums includes museums with a variety of different
disciplines, governing structures and budgets, using it would increase the likelihood of a more
representative sample frame. As of fall 2009, there were 776 accredited museums listed on the
AAM Web site. One museum on the list no longer exists, and six others were either unreachable
or did not wish to participate. Due to a concern for a usable response rate, no form of random
sampling was applied to the rest of the museums on the AAM list. Instead, all 769 museums are
accounted for in the sample frame.
In order to build the sample frame, the researcher obtained a list of the names of the 776
AAM-accredited museums ("List of accredited museums," n.d.) and visited the Web sites of
each museum to gather the name and e-mail address of the staff member most closely related to
public relations or communications director. If uncertain of the most appropriate staff member to
reach, or if none was listed on the Web site, the researcher e-mailed the general information
address listed on the Web site and contacted the staffer who was the most appropriate person to
speak with about the use or interest in use of social media for the museum. If a general e-mail
address was not listed or the museum did not reply, the researcher called the museum to inquire.
Furthermore, an e-mail calling out for participation in the survey was sent to three
listservs: MUSEUM-L, a general purpose, cross-disciplinary museum issues-related electronic
discussion list; ACUMG-L, an electronic discussion list for The Association of College and
University Museums and Galleries; and MCN-L, an electronic discussion list for the Museum
Computer Network. Members of the Kane-DuPage Regional Museum Association (KDRMA)
also were e-mailed a call for participation. A quick search for American museums on the social
networking site Facebook that were not already accounted for also was performed. Once again,
e-mails were obtained either by finding an e-mail address on the museum's Web site or from
direct contact with the organization. More than half of the e-mail addresses used were obtained
through direct contact in order to ensure that information was received from the appropriate staff
The total sample frame consisted of 875 contacts from 830 American organizations.
Several museums with multiple staff members working on social media for the museum asked to
have more than one person take the survey. Since the survey's intention is to learn from
practitioners currently using social media at their museum, it was decided by the researcher to
include multiple people from the same museum in order to get as much feedback as possible
from practitioners currently working with the medium.
Survey Instrument Design
The survey was created in and responses collected using Qualtrics. Qualtrics is Web-
based survey software for creating and administering surveys. The survey was sent electronically
by e-mail to respondents. Although the survey was distributed using Qualtrics, the program
allows for the survey to be customized so that the University of Florida College of Journalism
and Communications letterhead appears on the survey, which increases the survey's image of
Before beginning on the final instrumentation development, a sample of museums (N=
20) was picked at convenience from the list of museums on Facebook to conduct an informal
questionnaire though e-mail of current social media use in their museums. Ten museums
responded to the questions, which allowed for feedback on the types of questions and wording of
questions to be used on the final survey. A complete copy of the online survey is located in
Appendix A. The following is a summary of the contents of the survey.
The first question of the survey asked if the respondent's museum currently uses social
media. If the answer was no, the respondent was taken immediately to the last part of the survey
to answer general questions about his or her museum, with the intention that it is important to
know what types of museums are, as well as what types are not, currently using social media.
Questions in the first part of survey dealt with what types of social media are being used
and for what purpose they are being used. These questions used semantic differential scales to
investigate the perception of effectiveness, importance and frequency of types of social media
sites and uses of sites. Questions about the effectiveness of a list of social media sites gave only
four options from "ineffective" to "effective" without giving a neutral answer option. This was a
tactic decided by the researcher to avoid neutral responses in order to establish stronger
sentiment about each social media site. An open-ended option was added as an "other" choice for
respondents to fill in a social media site they use if it was not listed. For the other questions,
respondents were asked to answer on a seven-point semantic differential scale that went from
"not at all important" and "never" to "extremely important" and "very frequently." An open-
ended question asked for the approximate time (in percentage) spent daily using social media.
Interval and ratio scales will be used for measurement.
The second part of the survey was concerned with the use of social media as a dialogic
tool. Participants were asked to determine the percentage of social media use for their museums
that they would describe as exchanging dialog with their public as opposed to just posting
messages. They were then asked how influential they felt the following factors were towards
encouraging dialogic engagement with their publics online: specific motivational efforts by the
museum asking for participation, content of online messages based on museum information,
amount of perceived time spent on social media sites by the museum, type of social media site
used, and quality of the content. The factors were rated on a seven-point scale from "not
influential at all" to "extremely influential."
The third part of the survey asked about the museum's target audience with social media.
Respondents were asked whether their museum uses social media to target current visitors, new
visitors or both. Next they were asked to rate the importance of seven specific visitor groups
from "not at all important" to "very important" on a five-point semantic differential scale. An
open-ended option was added as an "other" choice for respondents to add a target not listed.
The next set of questions dealt with social media measurement. An introductory
questioned asked if specific goals and objectives were set for the museum's use of social media.
If the participant responded that they did, they were then asked if they were measurable and how
often measurements were taken, from weekly to yearly. If the participant answered that they had
not set goals or objectives for his or her museum's use of social media, he or she would move on
to the next set of questions concerning familiarity with certain types of social media
measurement tools. The questions asked about personal familiarity, the measurement tools used
at each museum and which measurement tool was used most often. All deal with nominal data.
The fifth section included a series of questions dealing with the overall perception of
effectiveness and three general questions on social media use in the museum. To determine the
extent to which the respondents believe in the importance of social media for their museums, the
impact it has had on their visitors and their satisfaction of the museums' social media efforts so
far, participants were asked how much they agreed or disagreed with four statements using a six-
point Likert scale. The six-point scale was used to ask respondents to rate the success of their
museums' current social media efforts, and a five-point scale was used to ask which factors they
believe could improve the effectiveness of social media efforts. Eight factors were rated from
"not at all needed" to "very needed." A yes-or-no question asked if there was a department or
staff member working specifically on social media, and another question asked if the museum
had developed any legal policies for social media implementation in the museum. The last
question was open-ended and asked each respondent the number of employees who work on
social media for his or her museum's Web site.
Five general questions about the museums for which the practitioners worked for
comprised the last part of the survey. Respondents were asked to answer questions relating to the
region and type of museum at which they work. These questions will be measured on nominal
scales. The last three questions were targeted at providing information about each museum's size
and included questions about paid staff numbers, the museum's annual operating budget and the
approximate annual attendance. These will be measured on a ratio scale and can be used to help
group museums into small, medium and large for co-relational studies.
Survey Data Collection
Upon receiving approval of the study from the university's Institutional Review Board in
early February, the survey was e-mailed on Monday, Feb. 8, 2010, and closed on Friday, Feb. 12,
2010. In order to increase response rate, several reminder tactics were used. An e-mail reminder
was sent the Friday before the survey began in order to remind respondents of the survey, the
topic and its importance to the industry's field of knowledge. Another reminder e-mail was sent
in the middle of the collection week to further encourage participation from practitioners that had
not yet responded.
Tactics that have the potential of increasing the response rate suggested by Bourque and
Fielder (2003), such as stressing the importance of the study in the e-mails and offering
researcher's contact information, were also implemented. Qualtrics also allows for the
personalization of each e-mail sent using the recipient's first name. A copy of the pre-survey
letter, the cover letter for the survey sent on the launch day and the reminder notice can be found
as Appendices C and D. There are no anticipated risks, compensation or other direct benefits for
the respondents, and participation in the study is completely voluntary. However, as an incentive,
the researcher offered to share the results of the survey with all respondents.
Interview Population and Sample Frame
The people contacted for the nine personal in-depth interviews came from a convenience
sampling of several locations or from recommendations by museum-related personal contacts. Of
the nine interviews administered over the phone, six were with museum professionals currently
working with social media at their organization. Recommendations were taken from individuals
partaking in blogs or forums related to the use of social media and museums, including Museum
3.0 and Museum 2.0. They also were taken from the contact the researcher had with respondents
while attaining correct e-mail addresses for the survey sample frame. Of the individuals
recommended, the first six who responded as willing to be interviewed were used. The names of
the practitioners and their represented museums will be respected and kept confidential. The
practitioners work for museums that range in size and location.
The other three interviews were with public relations practitioners working with methods
of measurement of social media. These three were selected at random from lists of people
presenting at conferences listed on the PR News Web site or from the table of contents on a new
PR measurement book out by PR News, PR News' Guide to Best Practices in PR Measurement,
Volume 4 (2009). E-mail addresses were found by looking up individuals using Google and
searching the Web sites of each individual's place of work or personal blog. E-mails were sent
on an ongoing basis, including an introduction to the researcher and the intent of the interview
and study. The first three that replied and agreed to be interview were used. The intent of these
interviews is to supplement survey findings.
Interview Instrument Design
Semi-structured open-ended phone interviews provide supplementary assessment to the
larger survey of the approaches to and strategies used with regards of social media in museums.
There were two sets of interview questions created. The first was addressed to museum
professionals currently working on their museum's social media sites. Questions focused on use,
strategies, effectiveness and measurement. Each of main questions had a subset of questions to
prompt a more detailed level of response. The main topics for questions were as follows:
What forms of social media does your museum currently use?
How did your museum choose what social media sites to use?
Over time, how have you adjusted the types and methods of the social media sites
used at your museum?
Have you notice more success with certain types of social media over others at your
What types of events or promotions has your museum sponsored specifically for
online publics through the use of social media?
What types of goals or objectives did you set to reach by using social media?
What percentage of your time using social media sites would you describe as
engaging in dialog with your publics as opposed to writing messages?
Does your museum have any legal policies related to the use of social media?
What do you think has been the most successful aspect, tactic or application of using
social media and why?
The second set of interview questions was addressed to public relations practitioners
working with methods of measurement with social media. The focus of this set of questions was
on measurement and effectiveness; however, practitioners also were asked for general
suggestions on the topic of social media implementation. Each of the main questions again had a
subset of questions to prompt a more detailed level of response. The main topics for questions
were as follows:
What social media tool do you use most often with your clients or at work?
How did you choose what social media sites to use?
What would you consider to be an effective use of social media for an organization?
Overall, what are the tools available for social media measurement right now and what do
Interview Data Collection
Nine complete interviews lasting an hour in length were conducted. Interviews were
conducted via telephone and not formally transcribed or recorded. Notes were handwritten
during the interview and later typed into Microsoft Word. Interviews also were recorded using
Audio Recorder 3.2 software to be able to refer back.
IRB approval was met before implementation of the interviews. There are no anticipated
risks, compensation or other direct benefits for the interviewees, and participation was
completely voluntary. As an incentive, the researcher offered to share the results of the general
survey with interviewees.
This chapter presents the findings of the study. To begin, descriptions of the survey
respondents' museum demographics are given. Then findings are organized by the research
questions explained in Chapter 4. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS)
software was used to analyze the data results and summarize into conclusions.
Profile of Respondents
Of the 875 museum practitioners who were e-mailed the survey, eight indicated that they
did not wish to complete the survey after reading the summary and informed consent. Of 373
started surveys, a total of 315 fully completed surveys were returned, yielding a response rate of
36 percent. Of those who completed the survey, 90.2 percent of respondents answered that they
do currently use social media at their museum. For those who indicated they do not use social
media, the survey prompted those respondents to only answer the last five questions asking about
their museum's demographic information. The research cannot confirm that the sample is
representative of the total number of American museums using social media; however, it does
seem somewhat representative of AAM-accredited museums. In general, respondents
representing medium museums comprised the majority of the sample.
Resembling museum types among accredited museums, practitioners from art
museums/centers comprised the largest segment of respondents at 36.5 percent (as reported in
Chapter 4, art museums/centers account for 42 percent of AAM-accredited museums). History
museums represented the second largest group (22.2 percent), which is also the second largest
group of AAM-accredited museums. All other categories of museum types took up between 0.3
and 7.9 percent of the total. See Figure 4-1 for more.
Regionally, the largest percentage of represented museums is from the Northeast at 27
percent. Museums in the Midwest and Southeast follow closely behind with 25.3 percent and
23.1 percent, respectively. See Figure 4-2 for more.
Using AAM budgetary divisions, museums with an annual operating budget of $350,000
or less make up 10.6 percent of those represented in the sample. The largest percentage of
museums represented in the sample (27.3 percent) has annual budgets between $1 million and
$2.9 million. Museums with operating budgets of more than $5 million make up 24.2 percent.
The percentages correspond with the breakdown of AAM-accredited museums when divided
into the same budgetary categories. See Table 5-1 for more.
Another indicator of museum size is the number of paid staff. The number of paid staff
was divided into categories. The average number of paid staff members is between 31 and 50
staff members (SD=188.614); however, there are a few extreme outliers. The largest museum
represented reported having 2,400 staff members, and the smallest museum reported no paid
staff members (10 observations were missing due to nonresponse). Fifty-eight point eight percent
of museums reported a number of paid staff members between 6 and 50. Comparing the results
to AAM-accredited museums, there are a larger number of museums with more than 30 paid
staff members. Forty-seven point one percent of the museums represented had less than 30 paid
staff members, as opposed to about three-fourths of the accredited museums in the same
category. This is possibly due to the fact that museums with smaller staffs may not have had time
to complete the survey. See Table 5-2 for more.
The last descriptive question was about each museum's annual attendance. The average
annual attendance was approximately 684,000 (n=285); however, attendance ranged from 200 to
4.5 million. More than half the museums represented (59.3 percent) reported having annual
attendance of 100,000 or less. Ten point nine percent of respondents reported museums with
annual attendance of more than 500,000. See Figure 4-3 for more.
For the purposes of this study, a variable was created to group respondents into small,
medium and large museums. Using a Pearson correlation analysis, museum operating budgets
and museum staff numbers are strongly correlated (r= 0.43, p < 0.01, n=306); however, museum
size categories were chosen to correspond with budget-based division standards used by AAM
(McKinsey & Company, 2009) instead of in combination of both variables. The divisions follow
that small museums are considered those with budgets of less than $350,000, medium museums
with budgets between $350,000 and $5M and large museums with budgets of more than $5M.
Based on these divisions, 10.5 percent of respondents represented small museums, 64.4
percent represented medium museums, 24.1 percent represented large museums and 1 percent of
respondents did not answer the question (M=I. 17, SD=.56). Proportional to the number of small
(9 percent), medium (66 percent) and large (25 percent) museums accredited by AAM, these
figures suggest again that the sample is representative of AAM-accredited museums. See Figure
4-4 for more.
Research Question 1 and Subset Questions: Uses of Social Media
The first research question sought to describe the main uses of social media in American
Research Question la
RQla: What are the different types of social media being used for?
To answer this question, survey respondents were asked to describe how they utilize
social media, the importance of social media to museums and the importance of several facets of
social media use. The researcher looked for a correlation in the relationship between how
respondents answered on the types of uses and to what they believed were important elements of
Overall, American museums using social media believe that it is important to do so and
that using social media is improving the speed of communication with museum publics. They are
using social media most often for event listings or posting reminder notices, to reach larger or
new audiences and to post online promotions or announcements. Regardless of what they are
using it most frequently for, practitioners also believe that ease of user navigation, branding and
the number of followers or fans on social media sites are three very important elements of the
When respondents were asked if they felt it was important for their museum to be
involved with social media, there was overwhelming agreement with the statement. With a six-
point scale from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree," 54 percent of respondents answered
"strongly agree" (n=284) and 0 percent answered below "somewhat agree."
When asked about level of agreement with the statement that the use of social media has
sped up communication, 30 percent (n= 284) answered that they strongly agree, and 39 percent
answered that they agree. Only 4 percent of respondents indicated that they disagreed.
For social media uses, respondents were asked to indicate using a seven-point scale how
frequently they use social media for the following uses: event listing/reminders,
promotions/announcements, visitor experience feedback, online dialogic
engagement/conversational engagement, museum member specific events, fundraising,
education, quickening communication, reaching a larger or new audience and recruiting new
memberships. They were given a space to add their own use of social media if it was not listed.
Of the 10 uses of social media listed, 66.4 percent of respondents (n=298) indicated that
they use social media for event listings/reminders "very frequently." Reaching a larger or new
audience and using social media for promotions or announcements have the next two highest
percentages of use with 50.0 percent and 47.3 percent, respectively. The lowest frequency of
social media use besides the "other" category is for fundraising at 3.4 percent. Only 11.4 percent
of respondents indicated that they use social media for dialogic engagement/conversational
engagement very frequently. See figure 4-3 for more.
Of the answers provided in the "other" category, the following were listed at least twice:
games or quizzes, engagement with other institutions, weather updates and name branding.
Answers relating to audio and visual posts or photographs and volunteer recruitment were
mentioned most often. The most unique answer was restaurant menus.
Table 4-3: Mean scores for frequency of use.
Question Mean SD
Event listings/ Reminders 6.31 1.22
Reaching a larger or new audience 5.96 1.28
Promotions/ Announcements 5.84 1.54
Quickening communication times between the museum and its 5.35 1.81
Education 4.44 1.92
Online dialogic engagement/ Conversational engagement 3.97 1.93
Visitor experience feedback 3.85 1.79
Museum member specific events 3.67 2.19
Fundraising 2.64 1.70
Recruiting new members 3.58 1.89
Other 1.71 1.75
Respondents also rated six elements of social media on a seven-point scale from "not at
all important" to "extremely important." The two highest mean scores were for usability or ease
of user navigation with 6.27 (SD=1.06) and branding/name recognition with a mean score of
6.24 (SD=1.02). For both elements of social media, more than half of the respondents (n=306)
answered that they were extremely important. All six elements have a mean score over 5.00 but
"number of mentions on sites not related to your museum" has the lowest mean score of 5.04
(SD= 1.56), see table 4-4.
Table 4-4: Mean scores for importance of the following elements regarding social media.
Question Mean SD
Usability or ease of user navigation 6.27 1.06
Branding/ name recognition 6.24 1.02
Number of followers or fans 5.91 1.03
Tone of engagements/ comments 5.70 1.28
Number of comments left by online visitors 5.37 1.27
Number of mentions on sites not related to your museum 5.04 1.56
The top four most frequent uses of social media for museums were compared to how
respondents rated the importance of social media elements to see if there were any correlations
between the responses. No strong correlations were observed.
Research Question lb
RQlb: RQlb: By whom and how often is social media used by American museums?
To answer question lb, a comparison was first investigated in terms of respondents from
what size museums indicated using social media. Then a description of how many people are
working on a museum's social media and for how long on average daily is investigated.
Categorized by operating budget into small, medium and large museums, a Chi-squared
test revealed that the percentage of respondents that are currently uses social media does differ
by museum size, x2 (2, n=312)=19.90, p < 0.01. Ninety-seven point four percent (n=76) of large
museums and 90.6 percent of medium museums from the sample are currently using social
media, while 69.7 percent of small museums are using it.
Since museum staff numbers correlated with museum size divisions, a brief look was
taken into how the various divisions of staff size answered the question of current social media
use. The difference between how practitioners answered whether they currently use social media
depending on the number of staff members is significant as well, x2 (9, n=305)=19.16, p < 0.05.
All respondents coming from museums with a paid staff size of 31 and above (49.5 percent of
total respondents) answered yes to currently using social media 90 percent to 100 percent of the
The average number of staff working on a museum's social media site is 2.79 (n=281,
SE=0.39, SD=6.50), with the most common answer being one person (37.7 percent). The next
most common answer was two employees. Ninety-one point eight percent of all respondents
indicated having four or less employees working on their museums' social media sites.
Museum practitioners are spending an average of 47.8 minutes per day engaging with
social media (n=175, SD= 48.64). The average time per day ranges from 0 to 300 minutes. When
removing the top four outliers, the mean time spent engaging with social media is 43.3 minutes
per day (SD= 38.39). However, the distribution continues to be strongly right-skewed with 39.4
percent of respondents indicating 15 to 30 minutes spent engaging with social media per day.
The next most frequent amount of time spent engaging online is at 60 minutes per day with 17.7
percent of respondents, then between 60 and 90 minutes with 23.4 percent.
To summarize question lb, large museums are proportionally currently more involved
with social media than medium or small size museums, however medium museums are close
behind. The majority of museums represented have between one and two people working on
social media engagement for a total average 45 minutes a day.
Research Question ic
RQ1c: Which publics are museums targeting with social media efforts?
To further look into how American museums are using social media, a description of
targeted publics is investigated.
The survey looked into which publics are being targeted by social media. Participants
were asked if they use social media to target new visitors, visitors already familiar with the
museum or both groups equally. The majority indicated that both groups are equally targeted
through the museum's social media efforts with 73 percent (N=287) answering this option. Four
percent responded that they target new visitors.
Respondents then were asked to rate on a five-point scale how important seven groups
were as a target audience for their museums' use of social media. There was an option to add an
"other" target audience group. No group had a mean value less than a neutral answer to their
importance, but retired or elderly visitors had the lowest mean score (M=3.49, SD=1.21) and
young professionals had the highest (M=4.49, N=284, SD=0.76). Families were a close second
(M=4.46, SD=0.80), see Table 4-5 for more. The most common response in the "other" category
was teachers and other museums/institutions/related professionals. Local residents and
community members also were listed a few times.
Research Question ld
RQ1d: Which types of social media are more effective for museums?
With an overall focus on social media effectiveness in museums, the level of
effectiveness for 13 different social media sites or types was surveyed. Respondents were asked
to rate sites on a four-point scale ranging from "ineffective" to "effective," with no neutral
option. Respondents also could indicate if they did not use a specific site or if there was another
site not listed that they felt was effective.
Of the 13 social media sites, Facebook has the highest mean value towards being
effective for museums at 3.32 (SD=0.80). More than 90 percent of respondents (N=304)
indicated that Facebook is at least somewhat effective for their museums. The second highest
mean is for Twitter with a score of 2.26 (SD= 1.60). Scribed, Second Life, Digg, Picasa,
Delicious are being used the least (see Figure 4-4). MySpace was rated as the most ineffective
social media site. Further research would have to investigate if these tools are not being used
because they are not as helpful for museums specifically.
To see if museum size relates to how respondents rated each site, chi-squared and a
Person's correlation analysis was examined. The ratings of social media site effectiveness
differed by museum size significantly for Twitter, YouTube and Flicker. This shows that
Facebook is seen as an effective tool and MySpace as ineffective regardless of museum size.
Twitter, YouTube and Flicker may be more effective as size of museum increases because more
time can be devoted to them, see Table 4-6.
Research Question le
RQ1e: Do practitioners believe the use of social media has had an influence on
A Likert scale was used to evaluate agreement with this statement. After looking at
descriptives, a Pearson's correlation analysis and then an independent-samples t-test were
conducted to investigate the answers to this question compared to how respondents rated the
overall success of their current social media efforts.
Results indicated that practitioners believe that social media only somewhat influences
visitor behaviors; however, the greater the perceived success of current social media efforts, the
more museum practitioners believe the use of social media influences visitor behaviors.
The mean score is 3.88 (SD=1.07) on a six-point scale when respondents were asked how
much they agree with the statement that the use of social media has influenced behaviors of
museum visitors. The largest response was "somewhat agree" with 46 percent (N=284) of the
total. Twenty-one percent answered that they "agree" with the statement.
To determine whether or not this plays a factor with how successful a practitioner feels
his or her overall social media efforts are a correlation test was conducted between the two
questions. A Pearson's correlation coefficient revealed a statistically significant correlation
found between the agreement indicated on social media influencing visitor behaviors and
respondents' overall rating of current social media efforts (r=-0.46, n=284, p < 0.01). An
independent-samples t-test further confirmed that there is a significant difference in mean
responses depending on perceive success of current social media efforts when divided into three
groups: very unsuccessful, unsuccessful to successful and very successful [t(106)=-8.85, p <
Research Question 2 and Subset Questions: Effectiveness of social media
The second research question sought to look into what extent American museums are
using social media in order to feel that efforts are effective. To do so the answers to other survey
questions of those who rated their museum's social media efforts as either successful or very
successful are examined.
Research Question 2a
RQ2a: What are museums with highest level of satisfaction doing?
To answer this question a closer look is taken at how respondents rate their social media
success and how much time on average they spend with social media, how frequently they use
social media for dialogic engagement, which elements of social media are most important to
them and what they believe is most needed to improve social media effectiveness.
In summary, those who describe their social media efforts as successful or very
successful are more likely to spend more than 30 minutes a day on social media and tend to use
social media for more dialogic efforts than respondents with less social media success. No strong
correlations were found between perceived success and comments, tone or mentions created by
online publics, even though they are related levels of engagement. In general, time, staff and an
understanding of key publics online have the highest level of need towards social media
When respondents were asked to rate the success of their museum's social media efforts,
50 percent (N=284) answered that they believed their current efforts were "somewhat
successful." The question was asked with a six-point scale with an intentional absence of a
neutral option. The mean score for responses is 4.05 (SD=1.02), with 29 percent responding that
their current social media efforts are "successful" or "very successful." These respondents'
answers to the survey questions were then examined to see if there are any characteristics that
can be tied to this perceived success.
First, the average time spent on social media each day by these respondents was studied.
Chi-squared revealed that the amount of time spent does differ significantly depending on the
level of perceived success of current social media efforts, x2 (48, N=175)=69.45, p < 0.05,
indicating that the more time respondents spend on social media efforts, the higher the level of
perceive success. Of respondents who answered that they felt their current social media efforts
were successful or very successful, 25 percent (N=52) answered that they spent 60 minutes on
average on social media, and 23.1 percent answered that they spent 30 minutes daily on social
media. In contrast, 87.5 percent (N=16) of respondents who rated their current social media
efforts as unsuccessful or very unsuccessful spent 30 minutes or less on social media.
Keeping in mind from the literature review the importance of engaging in a dialogic
approach to social media, a Pearson's correlation analysis was conducted to see if there is a
relationship between those indicating success in the current social media efforts and how
frequently they use social media for online dialogic engagement. The analysis indicated that
there is a statistically significant positive correlation between the two variables (r=5.25, N=284,
p < 0.01), so the more respondents use social media for dialogic engagement, the higher the level
of perceived success.
Results also suggest that there is a significant difference in the percentage of time spent
on social media efforts that can be described as dialogic in nature and the level of perceived
success. An independent-samples t-test was conducted to compare time spent in percentages for
those rating current efforts as unsuccessful/very unsuccessful to those rating current efforts as
successful/very successful. There was a significant difference in the scores for unsuccessful
(M=3.24, SD=7.62) and successful (M=31.48, SD=22.77) conditions; t (76)=-5.01, p < 0.001.
Of those who rated their current social media efforts as successful or higher, 34.4 percent
describe their use of social media dialogic in nature between 20 percent and 30 percent of the
time. Of respondents who described their current social media efforts as unsuccessful or lower,
82.4 percent describe their social media efforts as dialogic just 5 percent of the time or less.
Continuing on the topic of dialogue, a Pearson's correlation analysis was conducted to
determine a link between perceived success of current social media efforts and the importance of
the number of comments left by online visitors. Interestingly, no correlation was found between
the two variables (r=0.10, N=284, p > 0.05). However, more than 50 percent (N=84) of those
describing their current efforts as successful or higher rated number of comments as either
important or extremely important. A weak correlation was found between perceived success and
the importance of tone of engagements/comments posted by others on a museum's social media
site (r=0.14, N=284, p < 0.05), as well as with the importance of the number of mentions on sites
not related to the museum (r=0.14, N=284, p < 0.05). This is despite the fact that 71.4 percent of
those describing their current efforts as successful or higher rated tone as important or extremely
important, and 48.8 percent rated mentions as important or higher. Like the general findings, this
group rated usability and branding as the most important elements of social media.
A further look was taken into the extent of how much respondents feel a dialogic
approach to social media is needed in order to improve overall effectiveness. To do this,
respondents we asked to rate the level of need for eight factors to improve overall effectiveness
of social media, including a more dialogic approach as one of the factors. The highest mean
scores are for time (M=4.32, SD=0.94), staff (M=4.27, SD=0.98) and understanding the social
media uses of a museum's online public (M=4.10, SD=0.93). A more dialogic approach had the
lowest mean score of 3.72 (N=284, SD=1.03) but had a strong positive correlation with the need
of understanding social media behaviors factor (r = 0.52, n= 284, p < 0.01).
Table 4-7: Mean scores for factors needed for effectiveness
Question Mean SD
Time 4.32 0.94
Staff 4.27 0.98
Understanding of how your museum's specific publics uses social 4.10 0.93
Defined goals 3.97 0.97
Support from other staff members 3.91 1.03
A defined evaluation system 3.90 1.04
Training on social media tools or for staff 3.85 1.10
Dialogic approach to social media use 3.72 1.03
A weak negative relation was found between the level of need for a more dialogic
approach and the level of success in current social media efforts (r=-0.19, n=284, p < 0.01). For
those whose social media efforts were rated successful or higher, the top needs for improving
effectiveness are time (78.6 percent, N=84), staff (72.6 percent, N=84) and support from other
staff members (76.2 percent, N=84).
Research Question 2b
RQ2b: Looking at those using social media to engage in dialogue, what types of
tactics are museums using to accomplish visitor engagement?
To answer this question, correlations were looked at between how respondents who more
frequently use social media to engage in online dialog rated the influence of five factors towards
encouraging or motivating online publics to become more dialogic through the museum's social
Tactics that encourage dialogic engagement online are believed to be quality of content
and type of social media site used. Respondents that use social media more frequently for
dialogic engagement tend to rate direct calls for fan participation as more motivational than those
who use social media in that capacity less frequently.
Respondents were asked to rate five factors on a seven-point scale as to the degree of
influence respondents believe the factors have on encouraging their publics to become more
dialogic. This question was asked to look into perceived motivational factors that a museum
might partake in to increase online dialogic engagement. The factor perceived as having the most
influence on engagement is the quality of content, which 41.1 percent of respondents rated as
extremely influential and has a mean score of 5.95 (N=282, SD=1.20). Type of social media site
had the second highest mean score (M=5.48, SD= 1.41), with 27.3 percent of respondents rating
it as extremely important. The factor with the smallest mean was motivational efforts or direct
calls for participation to online publics by the museum (M=4.16, SD=1.89).
Table 4-8: Mean scores for factors influencing engagement from online publics (7-point scale)
Question Mean SD
Quality of content posted or written by museum on social media 5.95 1.20
Type of social media site 5.48 1.41
Amount of specific museum information provided 4.98 1.36
Amount of perceived time museum is spending on social media 4.19 1.54
Motivational efforts by museum or calls for fan participation such 4.16 1.89
as trivia questions
A Pearson's correlation analysis between how respondents answered the question of how
frequently they use social media for online dialogic engagement and how they rated the
influential factors of social media was conducted. The test revealed the strongest correlation
exists with the influential factor of motivational efforts made purposely by the museum (r=.41,
N=278, p < 0.01). Of the respondents who answered that they use social media for dialogic
engagement "very frequently," 67.6 percent of them also answered that motivational efforts and
direct calls for participation by the museum were either a six or seven in terms of influence.
There was no strong correlation found between perceived success of social media efforts and
influential factor rating.
Research Question 2c
RQ2c: Do museums have to engage in all forms of social media in order to be
In order to answer this question, the researcher took a look at what forms of social media
were rated most effective by respondents who rated their social media efforts as successful or
Those who rated their current use of social media as successful did not rate all forms of
social media as effective. They followed the overall trend of rating Facebook and Twitter as most
effective and blogging, YouTube and Flickr as largely somewhat effective. Using a Pearson's
correlation analysis, the level of perceived success in current social media use was most strongly
correlated with the level of effectiveness of Facebook (r=.51, N=283, p < 0.01).
For the most part, respondents describing their efforts as successful tend to use more of
the different types of social media but did not reflect that using more was necessarily more
effective. Of those who used them, there were several types of social media rated more towards
somewhat ineffective or ineffective than somewhat effective or effective. Scribd, Second Life,
Digg, Delicious and MySpace were not used very often by this group, but, of those who did,
were rated more often as somewhat ineffective or ineffective. MySpace was rated as ineffective
by 48.1 percent (N=27) of those in this group who are using the site.
Since respondents who describe their social media use as effective did not use all forms
of social media, nor rated them all as effective, according to this survey, museums do not need to
engage in all forms of social media in order to be effective.
Research Question 2d
RQ 2d: Do museums represented by the respondents have any legal policies regarding
This question sought to look further into the museums' planning processes when deciding
to use social media. Social media has the ability to give a certain level of freedom to the public
which brings in freedom of speech issues, copyright laws and archival of public records that
varies between types of museums and types of social media.
When respondents were asked if their museums discussed any legal polices related to
social media before implementation, 66 percent (N=284) responded that they did not. With a
mean value of 1.66 (SD=0.47), only 34 percent of respondents indicated that they had discussed
legal implications prior to social media implementation.
Research Question 3 and Subset Questions: Measurement
The final research question looked into what types of measurement American museums are
using for their social media efforts and attempts to analyze which are more effective than others.
Research Question 3a
RQ3a: What online measurement tools are museums using most often?
Respondents were first asked what measurement tools they were familiar with and then
which of the tool they currently use at their museums. This was to see if the lack of measurement
was due to unfamiliarity with the options available.
Respondents were asked to check from a list of 15 social media measurement or tracking
tools all of which they were familiar with and then all of which their museum currently uses. A
Pearson's correlation analysis revealed that there is a strong correlation between familiarity with
a measurement tool and current museum use (see Table 4-9).
The tools being used most by American museums are Facebook Stats (77 percent of
respondents currently use, N=249), Google Analytics (69 percent), Google Alerts (67 percent),
Flickr Stats (26 percent) and SearchTwitter (25 percent).
Respondents also were given the opportunity to provide names of other measurement or
tracking tools that they use. The most common answers to this option were Hootsuite, Vocus and
bit.ly. Klout, Social Oomph and Twittercounter/Tweetdeck also were mentioned.
When respondents were asked what tool their represented museums use most often, 37
percent (N=248) answered Google Analytics, 34 percent answered Google Alerts and 23 percent
answered Facebook Stats.
Research Question 3b
RQ3b: Is there a relationship between museums using measuring tools with regards
to social media and how successful the use of social media for the museum is perceived?
Correlation coefficients were calculated between respondents' ratings of social media
success and those using measurement tools, as well as those with measurable goals and
The top three measurement tools Facebook Stats, Google Analytics and Google Alerts
- were looked at in regards to perceived success with social media. A Pearson's correlation
analysis found no strong correlation between how successful respondents rated their museums'
social media efforts and whether or not they use the top measurement tools.
To further determine any correlation between measurement and success, respondents
were asked if they set any specific goals or objectives for the use of social media. Only 35
percent of respondents (N=286) answered that they have specific social media goals or
objectives, but of those who do, 89 percent (N=101) measure or evaluate those goals or
objectives. An independent-samples t-test was conducted to compare those with measurable
goals and objectives with those describing their current efforts as unsuccessful vs. successful.
There was no indication [t (43)=-.379, p > .05] that the more successful a respondent perceives
its social media efforts the more likely he or she is to have measurable goals.
Research Question 3c
RQ3c: How often are measurements being taken?
Only respondents who answered that they had specific goals or objectives for the use of
social media were asked how often they take measurements. The most common answer among
respondents who replied was "once per month" at 40 percent (N=101). Twenty-six percent of
respondents answered "quarterly" (see Table 4-10).
Table 4-10: Frequency of measurement taken on social media efforts
Once per month 40%
Once per week 18%
Every two weeks 13%
Research Question 3d
RQ3d: Is there a relationship between how satisfied a museum is with its current
social media involvement and whether or not it measures or evaluates goals and objectives?
This was looked into since perceived success and current satisfaction measure two
First, a Pearson's correlation coefficient was computed to assess the relationship between
satisfaction and whether or not specific goals were established for a museum's use of social
media. There is a weak negative correlation between the two variables (r=-.22, N=284, p < .01);
however, there is no significant relationship between satisfaction and whether or not a museum
has measurable goals or objectives [x2(5)= 4.10, p > 0.05]. That indicates that setting goals might
play a role in reaching satisfaction with social media efforts, but practitioners do not see having
measurable goals as crucial.
Summary of Interviews
From interviews with museum practitioners, it is apparent that they believe social media is
here to stay and important for museums. Visitor engagement online is particularly salient. Not all
interviewees have had the time to move from a more one-way form of communication on social
media sites to a dialogic approach. Some interviewees indicated a higher current level of success
in engaging visitors using social media than others; however, no matter what level of
engagement they are currently involved in, all said they want to and are working on improving
this aspect of their social media efforts. Several said that their ultimate goal is to become much
more dialogic in nature in order to nurture online relationships.
Of those interviewed, Facebook, Twitter and blogging are the most prevalent social media
sites used. YouTube and Flickr also are used but not as frequently. Half of the interviewees
answered that they are the primary person working on their museum's social media sites, while
the other half answered that there is at least three primary people working on the sites. Number
of employees working on social media did not relate to number of sites being used. At one
museum, there is only one practitioner working on multiple sites, including Facebook, Twitter,
YouTube, Flickr and writing a blog. At a couple of the other museums, the blog is being written
by someone in another department, usually collections or curatorial. The IT or Web department
sometimes controls a museum's YouTube account, particularly if that department's staff is in
charge of video editing. Twitter and Facebook are updated every day, usually several times a
day. There is a lot more variance in how often museums' Flickr and YouTube sites and blogs are
updated, ranging from weekly to monthly.
Facebook was reported most often as the most successful in terms of online engagement
with visitors. It was pointed out that the "like" application on Facebook is used often by fans
because of the ease and speed of that type of response to show agreement or enjoyment, giving
the museum "instant feedback on the quality of their posts." For other social media sites,
opinions are only seen in terms of comment content, frequency or tone towards a certain post.
One practitioner described Twitter as being more successful. This was in part because, as
the practitioner explained, the museum is able to post on their activist-related issues, and activists
are, in general, more active online. "People who are passionate about museums, art and history
... like sharing information with each other," which makes Twitter a great tool for people who
like to share a lot of information with others often and quickly. Another practitioner described
having received more media hits, since starting to use using Twitter.
Strategies and Tactics
Practitioners see having "fun" as the biggest motivating factor when it comes to
encouraging online participation with social media. "Visitors and fans appreciate respect for their
intelligence," one practitioner said, so messages should not always be promotional in content but
instead should intrigue, humor, entertain and challenge thought. Most did admitted that for the
moment much of the current use for social media is informational and promotional, but they
realize that their efforts will ultimately be futile in this medium if they concentrate on one-way
messaging. A couple practitioners said that fans quickly lose interest on social media sites if they
are not continuously engaged so they try to mix up the types of posts on their social media sites.
Being witty, light-hearted, interesting and funny were all characteristics that practitioners
described as working towards effective engagement. As one practitioner pointed out: "People
The use of blogs is an exception. The majority of practitioners describe their museum blogs
as more academic in nature. Although blogs should be able to attract attention, the emphasis in
one museum, is less on fun and more on topical and scholarly content. Blogs also are the only
type of social media that practitioners said might not be in the organization's "voice." In all other
types of social media, posts and comments speak to the museum's identity, whereas blogs tend to
be written from an individual's identity.
Social media is also about inviting publics to "be a part of the experience." One museum
posts rhymes of which it starts the first line and fans are encouraged to build on. On other days,
the museum has its graphic designer create funny graphics or find stock photos to post for a
theme of the day. Visitors are then asked to come up with captions or slogans to go along with
the image. "Direct calls for participation" was described by several of the practitioners as a way
to motivate online participation. "Just literally asking questions," one practitioner explained,
helps motivate people to respond. "What's your favorite memory of coming to visit us as a kid?"
or "Tell us the funniest thing that happened on a visit here," are examples. Museums have tried a
variety of tactics, such as posting trivia questions on social media sites, asking people to post
photos of their experiences at the museums, hosting raffles or competitions and trying social
media-specific promotions, such as entrance fee discounts. One practitioner described an
instance using Facebook where discounts were offered to fans who said or did something silly,
such as wearing something specific or saying a funny phrase. Museums have seen mixed levels
of success with social media-based promotions, but all interviewees agreed that they would keep
Museum practitioners also emphasized the quality of content posted on social media sites.
Posting interesting facts, having a constant variety of information presented and adjusting topics
as needed to fit perceived online interest are all more important than trying to hit a certain
number of posts per day or week. Personalizing communication also is perceived as an important
part of quality management. Practitioners specifically mentioned that they respond to people's
comments as soon as they can. Another practitioner carries this principle over to Twitter in the
form of retweeting. Instead of just responding to comments people post, she tries to spend about
half of her time on Twitter retweeting relevant and interesting posts from those who follow the
museum and from those the museum follows. This enables the museum to recognize others
instead of highlighting only themselves. One practitioner has noticed that posting quality
external links, such as to related articles, tends to result in many more "hits" and comments by
visitors and fans than do links to the museum itself.
Photos also are a successful tactic in promoting engagement. Practitioners post a variety
of photos using either Flickr or Facebook. Some images are from stock photography Web sites
and are used to illustrate a "fun" fact, but many of the images are from museum events or of
museum objects. One interviewee described taking a photograph of the museum covered in snow
and labeling it, "For those of you who were not able to see what the museum looks like today."
One practitioner talked about how photo contests on its social media sites has been particularly
popular. At that museum, more of its online visitors and fans participate in photo contests than
any other direct calls for participation, such as trivia or raffles, even when a prize was offered for
the other types.
On the other hand, just being sincere can encourage engagement with something simple
like the Twitter post: "Hello, good day, how are you? It's Wednesday. We aren't open today, but
tomorrow, friends, tomorrow."
Time and Measurement
There does seem to be a relationship between the number of staff working on social
media sites and how satisfied the practitioner is with the current amount of time being spent on
social media. All practitioners expressed wanting more time dedicated to social media. In
general, the more staff members working on social media, the more time spent on social media
efforts and the more satisfied practitioners were with that time allotment. When asked how
successful they felt their current efforts were in comparison to how much time daily they spend
on social media, practitioners who reported being able to spend an hour and a half to three hours
a day on social media were for the most part satisfied with current efforts. Meanwhile
practitioners who reported spending an hour a day were not as satisfied and expressed needing
One practitioner described using the interface HootSuite to help save time. HootSuite
allows her to syndicate the museum's blog to Twitter so that blog updates are posted
automatically on Twitter. She also can use it to the track Web sites that refer people to the
museum's Twitter feed and can pre-schedule tweets to go out at a certain day and time during
In terms of goals and measurement, most practitioners responded that they monitor and
track comments and "hits" using Facebook stats, Twitter stats and Google Analytics. These are
looked at from once a week to once a month by all but one museum, which looks at them
quarterly. Adjustments are made to the type of posts and topics depending on those
measurements. Despite this, only two of the practitioners said they have current goals set, which
tend to be for specific events or campaigns. The other four practitioners did not set goals before
starting with social media, but now that their efforts have been established, they all would like to
move towards setting goals.
The practitioners also expressed a couple concerns, a major one being able to show that
social media has a behavioral impact on museum visitors. One practitioner talked about a post on
its upcoming sailing classes "We are excited about sailing season; come find a class that you
like." that 16 people "liked" on Facebook. But whether the people who clicked that they
"liked" it actually signed up for a class or not is undeterminable. Offering discounts at the front
desk advertised through social media sites can help create a link, but, for example, there is no
formal way of knowing whether or not the mention of Facebook for a discount was heard
through word of mouth or seen online. This also is difficult to measure if the museum offers free
admission to the public. One practitioner compares the demographics online with those of in-
person visits. As long as they are relatively the same, a museum could assume a relationship
exists; although, there are fans online that do not live locally and cannot be accounted for with
Another museum saw results when it got two new hires for its summer camp season by
posting the job on its social media sites as opposed to paying for an advertisement in the
Attendance at events can be an indicator whether social media strategies are working.
One museum decided to try to see if it could measure the direct impact of using social media
solely to promote an event by using it for a routine event that usually did not bring in too many
people. "We historically had about 10 people in the audience.. .we actually promoted it only on
Facebook but we really tried to promote it and talk it up and we had a full house that night... So I
think [Facebook] really did work because I didn't do anything else to move that needle." It was
shown to be a successful endeavor as about 200 people attended the event, a tenfold increase.
Legal issues were not a concern for practitioners. None had formal written policies
created before implementing social media. A few policies were created at museums where
multiple staff members update social media sites to guide content. The practitioners also retained
the right to remove inappropriate comments that would be hurtful or disrespectful to others;
however, all but one museum had yet to face the situation.
In general, the practitioners expressed wanting to increase efforts towards dialogic
engagement and collecting feedback from online publics. They also look forward to adding
media to their efforts and seemed optimistic in working towards their endeavors with social
Public Relation Practitioners
Interviews with the public relations practitioners working with methods of measurement
for social media were shorter and focused on the importance of goal setting. All three stressed
that the key to social media effectiveness lies in setting well-defined measurable goals.
The social media tool that the practitioners used most often with their clients depends on
the type of client but is often Facebook. Facebook is used because its size cannot be ignored.
Facebook's reach is incomparable to other social media sites. One practitioner said that
Facebook enables museums to easily interact on a "more personal level." Twitter, however, is a
close second in use because of its speed. One practitioner described it as being able to "catch
lightning in a bottle." What might take Facebook a few days to spread around, he explained,
Twitter can spread in a matter of hours. All three practitioners said that knowing what you are
trying to accomplish with social media and knowing your audience, their interests and patterns
are the best ways to decide what social media tool to start using first.
When asked what an effective use of social media for an organization would be, the
practitioners concentrated on the need to set goals in order to be able to evaluate effectiveness.
Goals that can measure a bottom line, such as in donations, attendance and member sign-ups, can
show effectiveness. Content quality and working on "direct engagement with first-level
supports" can be shown effective by "engaging with second-level supporters and having
messages and an organization's image spread virally," explained on practitioner. Effectiveness is
seen when social media is used to change or improve relationships and reputation or to speed up
communication efforts. One practitioner also underlined the need for organizations involved with
social media should be good listeners. That practitioner described using social media as
"attending a cocktail party." At cocktail parties people do not go around blasting messages, they
take the time to take in the scene, listen to what others are talking about and then answer
To the interviewees, bottom line impact is the key to social media success. Organizations
should ask themselves if social media enables them to market more efficiently. Is it improving
relationships, reputation or visitor satisfaction? These are the types of questions one practitioner
said organizations should focus on in order to create realistic and definable goals. All the
practitioners agreed that measuring numbers of fans online is not very important. What is
important, they explained, is what those fans are doing. "Are they asking to be added to an e-
mail list? Are they downloading from the museum sites? Are they defending the image of the
museum to others? Are they spreading information virally?" one practitioner asked. Another
would remind museum staff that online user activities should not be confused with actual results.
Feedback that is more helpful to look at includes impressions, views, comments, stats, percent
increase in engagement, percent increase in trust/satisfaction/commitment, percent decrease in
cost per member acquisition and percent decrease in marketing spent. All suggest using some
type of web analytics, such as Google Analytics, as a minimum measurement tools to include in
an evaluation plan.
There was a significant difference in focus between the two groups interview; however,
both agreed that using social media is recommended for any organization interested in listening
to its visitors more closely.
Discussion of Results
This study explored how American museums are currently using social media by looking
at tools used, purposes, perceived importance, effectiveness, measurement, satisfaction and
success. According to the research results, American museum practitioners in general believe
that becoming involved with social media is important to communicating with their publics. The
larger the museum the more likely it has been able to start using social media. Those who can
afford to spend more time on social media efforts tend to feel more successful about those
efforts, and those who feel more successful tend to engage in dialogic communication. The
majority of museums are using one to two staff members to work on their social media efforts
for an average of 45 minutes a day and target both new and current visitors, specifically young
professionals and families.
Facebook is seen as being most effective regardless of museum size, possibly because of
the reach it offers to larger or newer audiences. However, most museums are not utilizing this
reach for fundraising efforts or for new member recruitments. Twitter is seen as the second most
effective social media site because of its speed. MySpace has been rated as the least effective
social media tool, regardless of museum size.
Museums believe that social media is improving the speed and reach of communication
efforts with museum publics, but the majority have so far concentrated on one-way messaging in
their strategies. Social media is being used most often for event listings or reminders and to post
online promotions or announcements. These are lower levels of engagement, where visitors are
only challenged to process the information provided and possibly to show up to an event, but
they are not provided incentives or motivation to become actively involved. This is because, for
the moment, usability of the medium and branding or name recognition are seen as more
important than engaging public in dialog among museums overall.
Unfortunately, only 35 percent of museums set any specific goals or objectives for the
use of social media. The public relations practitioners involved with social media measurement,
although presumably biased by the nature of their concentration, could not stress enough the
importance of setting definable and measurable goals when using social media. According to
them, being able to show effectiveness through measurable evaluation is a key component in
being able to establish importance and gain support (both financial and resource related) for
efforts. Encouragingly, 89 percent of museums that have set goals have set ones that are
It is unclear what museums are choosing to measure. For most, tone and number of
comments are at least somewhat important. To museum practitioners, the "number" of fans is
seen as important to measure, but social media measurement practitioners unanimously agreed
that it is not really important. Like Seb Chan (2008) suggested about museums needing to
measure 'meaningful use,' the interviewees insisted that it is more important to find ways to
measure what those fans are actually doing besides just joining a museum's social media site.
Museums seem to be also monitoring hits, comments and web analytics, which are all seen as
useful by the measurement practitioners.
Museums are taking measurements most often either monthly or quarterly and then
making adjustments to social media efforts accordingly. The top three measurement tools are
Facebook Stats, Google Analytics and Google Alerts. Interestingly, however, for all of the
emphasis on measurement in the literature (Benson & Parker, 2009; Seb Chan, 2008) and from
the interviews, there does not seem to be a correlation with whether or not a museum set goals or
is using a measurement tool and how successful they perceive their social media efforts.
Also, for all of the literature on the opportunities to use social media for dialogic
engagement, survey results indicate that few museums are as yet using social media
overwhelmingly for this purpose. Museums surveyed, ranked using social media for dialogic
engagement sixth out of 10 options given. This was less the case for museum practitioners
interviewed whom instead indicated that they felt dialogic engagement is an important asset of
social media and are all working towards increasing this use. However, it is worth noting that
those interviewed were able to spend double the overall average time on social media use among
survey respondents and, therefore, may have more time to concentrate on efforts spent on
Another aspect of engagement is the number of mentions of a museum on unrelated sites.
This is related to participation in that it indicates a level of social activity outside of direct
interactions with the museum online and more users sharing information with other users on
behalf of the museum. Unfortunately, the number of mentions on sites not related to the museum
was not seen as unimportant entirely but it is at the lowest in priority for museums at the
moment. As backed up in the interviews and Simon's "hierarchy of social participation,"
(discussed in "Museums and the Building of Online Relationships" section of chapter 2) this
factor should be something museums look for as a sign of success, in that again, it moves a
museum from sending messages directly to people talking to their peers about the museum. With
the museum interviewees, one goal that several placed emphasis on developing was to work
towards better quality posts that online visitors would be more likely to spread virally. Like the
number of external mentions, this type of goal shows that at least some museums are working
towards achieving a higher level on "hierarchy of social participation" pyramid. The focus
becomes less on the museum communicating directly with online visitors and more on online
visitors communicating with others on behalf of the museum.
Quality of content has been seen across the board as important. In both sets of interviews
and in the survey results, this was indicated as a key proponent of social media effectiveness.
Quality of content will effect how often online visitors decide to engage or how soon they lose
interest in a museum's site. Content should be interesting, funny, witty, challenging, thought
provoking or entertaining and avoid being overly promotional. Quality and type of social media
site are seen as more important than quantity of both. Concentrating on quality also means that a
museum cannot expect to succeed using social media if they expect it to run itself. Survey and
interview results show that time, staff and an understanding of key publics online are essential
success on social media.
For the Field
From a theoretical perspective, the present study is an exploratory attempt to describe the
current use of social media in American museums. The study suggests that though American
museums are listening to research being done on the importance of using social media as a public
relations tool, they are still in an initial phase of use, concentrating mostly on establishing online
presence for themselves and their programs and events. American museums are generally
limiting their efforts in this area to one-way types of communication. The richer opportunities
that social media has to offer in stimulating dialogic engagement are therefore, for the most part,
being missed by American museums. Using social media is a constant process that requires a
commitment of time and energy.
In general, museums reported using the social networking site, Facebook, most often and
do not need to be engaged in all sites at once. For museums just starting to become involved,
MySpace should probably be avoided. Focusing staff time and resources instead on the optimal
use of one social medium, or just a few, would be a more productive approach for museums just
beginning to become involved. This involvement will also be limited by the size of the museum
and therefore the resources available for developing social media. As we have seen, larger
museum size correlates with a greater use of the next most common media after Facebook,
namely, the microblog Twitter and the photo and video sharing sites Flickr and YouTube.
Time is clearly also a part of this issue, since all three of those sites (Twitter, Flickr, and
YouTube) require more preparation time than a daily posting on a social networking site like
Facebook. Photos and videos take time to edit and sometimes involve coordination from staff
members in several departments. A larger museum is more likely to be able to devote the
necessary time to this sort of materials development. Note that the majority of respondents are
using 1-2 staff members to work on their social media efforts for an average of 45 minutes a day,
with 30 minutes being the minimum daily time needed for "successful" use. Thus, museums
looking to improve effectiveness in social media use should understand that this means making a
significant time commitment to the effort. Museums that cannot yet devote at least 30 minutes a
day or 2.5 hours a week to social media should rethink becoming involved for the moment, since
this time commitment appears to be the minimum needed to guarantee an effective use of
Museum practitioners also need to remember that this allotted time should not be spent
merely on message posting. This study clearly underscores the importance of content quality,
which can be achieved through time spent on careful research, planning, editing and responding
Although using social media for dialogic engagement was not seen as a priority by survey
respondents, results did show that perceived success increases when dialogic engagement with
online publics is more frequent. Therefore, once an online presence within the social media
realm is established, museums looking to increase their success should look into trying to
increase using the tool for online dialogic engagement.
Finally, museum practitioners noted their conviction that the use of social media has at
least some behavioral impact on visitors, and this is clearly an outcome that museums will want
to cultivate. This is particularly important at a time when museums are trying to find ways to
strengthen relationships with their key audiences in order to increase visitation, donations and
members to pre-recession figures. The results indicate that the full impact of social media on
museum visits and support is unlikely to be felt without a commitment to developing the full
interactive potential of these media.
Recommendations for the Harn Museum of Art
In terms of the social media plan for the Harn Museum of Art, the present research
suggests to start small and focus on content quality, instead of trying to implement too many
aspects at once. Since the museum already currently uses Facebook and Twitter, the plan
proposed, focuses on improving effectiveness within these two sites. Specifically, the museum
should try to remove all fan pages on Facebook that are separate from the main one run by the
staff and should investigate making the Twitter page easier to find. The two social media sites
should have links from the museum's home page and should likewise be listed on all E-mail
newsletters. Hootsuite is suggested for use in planning the main Tweets for the week and
prescheduled for daily posting to avoid further time use during the week. The Ham should
consider removing its MySpace account completely, since it has been shown to be an ineffective
site. YouTube will be kept but be worked on as a long-term project, pending available resources.
The plan suggests for the continued use of Twitter for event listings and more one-way
messaging. The intention is to establish a consistent online presence where visitors and the media
to have a consistent place to take a quick look at daily events and ongoing at the museum.
Retweeting related museum and art tweets by site followers is encouraged as a way to show a
form of appreciation and common interests. The plan also suggests methods for making event
listing and promotional material more interesting to readers.
The plan recommends focusing on using Facebook for interactive features, like
increasing the use of photographs from the collections and events. It then suggests which tactics
to use to call for online participation from fans in an effort to increase dialogic engagement on
Facebook. These include posting questions, trivia, jokes and fun facts to maintain an energetic
and light-hearted tone. It also sketches out several social media campaigns and the systematic
use of surveying visitors. An initial survey of social media use by those on the museum's E-mail
list serve is encouraged as one of the first steps to take in order to more fully understand the
museum's publics online.
Goals and objectives are proposed in order to ensure a way to evaluate effectiveness of
social media efforts, with strategies that include working to increase the use of social media for
dialogic engagement. The web analytics program Google Analytics (among others) is proposed
for monitoring. The plan also suggests collecting information from on-site visitors as to where
they heard about the museum or specific events in an effort to determine whether any in-person
visits can be directly related to social media.
Limitations of the Study
Although this study is a step in the right direction for a subject not yet extensively
researched, several limitations should be acknowledged. A first limitation is related to the sample
used to collect data and how representative it may be of the population. The respondents in the
present study were chosen from a convenience sample, comprised mostly from the list of AAM
accredited museums. Although a large variety of museums are accredited by the AAM, the
specific make up of AAM-accredited museums may not be accurately entirely representative of
all the museums in the United States. Even more importantly, the sample may not be
representative of all American museums using social media as there is not formal way to check
for this type of accuracy. Furthermore, not only might museums have declined to fill out the
survey due to time constraints, but the survey was introduced as a study into what museums are
currently doing with social media. Those who currently are not using social media may have
disregarded the call for participation all together.
Also the results cannot differentiate between the 21 people from the original sample
frame who are multiple representatives for the same museums. There is no way to ensure that the
person who completed the survey actually works on the museum social media sites. For example,
they may have overall responsibility for the museum's social media efforts but delegate much of
the actual content development work to other staff members or interns on their team, who could
conceivably have somewhat different perceptions of the success of their current efforts.
Likewise, if a museum out-sources such work, the museum practitioner may not have been able
to provide the most accurate insight as to their museum's social media on-goings. Moreover,
with only a 36 percent response rate, a higher rate would have provided more confidence in the
generalization of the findings.
Second, questions from the current study focused often on practitioners' attitudes and
perceptions. Many answers are subjective in nature and are a matter of personal opinion. The
definition of "success" in terms of social media has not been formally established, so that what
one museum might consider a successful use of social media might not be regarded as such by
another. This would account for the fact that even though-as noted by Benson & Parker (2009)
-measurement is needed to show effectiveness, there does not seem to be any correlation
between whether or not a museum has set goals or is using a measurement tool and the degree of
success they claim to have achieved with their social media efforts. "Effectiveness" is also a
relative term that is used in the survey and that might be interpreted differently by different
Third, the present study did not enquire into the length of time that museum surveyed
have been using social media. Museums that have only started using social media tools within
the last six months will most likely have very different responses from those that have been
active on the social media for a couple years. Generally success and efficiency strengthen over
time and can be evaluated more effectively when monitored over a larger time span. The study
does not allow for a reflection of social media use compared to length of time using it. It seems
reasonable to assume that the longer a museum has been using social media, the more effective
or successful the efforts are perceived to be-however, these results do not allow us to confirm
The fourth limitation is in the instrumentation. For some survey questions, the researcher
deliberately decided to eliminate a true neutral choice for many of the scale questions. This
forced respondents to pick a direction on the scale and may have weighted results more heavily
in one direction or the other.
Suggestions for Future Research
The process of preparing for and conducting this study has given rise to numerous
suggestions for future research. Future research should consider exploring the role of dialogic
engagement on relationship building within the social media setting, whether there are levels of
need to reach in progressing towards higher degrees of online engagement, and the importance of
social media measurement.
One suggestion for future research is to investigate the types of relationships created by
engaging in dialogic communication with museum visitors. Practitioners during in-depth
interviews responded as having a harder time trying to find ways to show that engaging publics
on social media sites has an impact on relationship building and what kind of relationships they
might be forming.
There was one example where there seems to be a positive link between an increasing
effort towards dialogic engagement online and the relationship visitors are expressing with the
museum. The museum that used Facebook to show a major impact on attendance at an event is
one of the museums that seems to be at an advanced stage of dialogic engagement. There is a
higher number of people posting on the museum's social media sites and a higher number of
user-provided content, such as photographs. During the event at which the museum experienced
a jump in attendance, a technical malfunction occurred during the presentation. Two outcomes
happened as a result. The first is that the director of marketing was made aware of the problem
by attendees using mobile devices to comment on the museum's social media sites about the
situation before employees were able to call the marketing director directly. Secondly, instead of
comments being overwhelming negative about the problem, some visitors were posting
concerned messages. More research should be conducted to investigate whether this concern was
a result of visitors having reached a more invested interest that the event go smoothly because of
engagement online beforehand. Does online dialogic engagement strengthen the museum-visitor
relationship by shifting people from being visitors to being representatives of the museum?
Further research is necessary.
Another subject that future research could investigate is if a level of needs exists when it
comes to using social media for engagement. Since museums are currently using social media as
a one-way form of communication, such as for event listings, promotions and brand recognition,
this level of participation must be met before moving on to two-way and ultimately multi-way
communication efforts. Are museums engaged with more dialogic approaches to social media
already at a comfortable level with the less dialogic applications? In using Simon's pyramid of
"hierarchy of social participation," museums may not be able to skip to achieving a "me-to-we"
level of participation without first having established confidence in the first three levels of the
pyramid. In terms of the Forrester Group's Ladder of Participation, do organizations act like
individuals in the sense that they become spectators before they become creators, and does an
organization have to go through the order of the ladder in order to reach the top, or can levels be
skipped? This research should involve incorporating investigation into how time plays a role in
levels of engagement. Can a museum achieve dialogic engagement in a short period of time
using social media, or do established steps need to be taken first? Since many museums are just
now becoming involved with social media, this might account for why dialogic engagement is
yet a high priority.
A smaller study might investigate whether the time of posting by an organization
determines how much feedback it generates. From the in-depth interviews, one practitioner who
is in charge of all the museum's social media efforts expressed wanting to know whether time of
day of posts affected the amount of engagement. Being the only person for the museum working
on social media sites means not having the time to post all day long. It would be more efficient to
know what times of day, on week days and on weekends, will generate more responses and
engagement online. Do people check Facebook or Twitter feeds on lunch breaks, or are the more
likely to have time to write a response in the evenings?
Also most museums are not utilizing social media for fundraising efforts or for new
member recruitments, which is possibly because a department other than the one in charge of
social media efforts handles those duties. The survey did not provide for an examination of what
departments are in charge of social media; however, the interviewees tended to be in charge of
marketing and communications or public relations departments. A study might investigate the
connection between the department in charge of social media and social media uses.
The finding that there does not seem to be a relationship between whether or not a museum
set goals or is using measurements and how successful they perceive their social media efforts to
be might also be useful to explore. How museums are defining success and effectiveness should
be determined and then compared to the definitions by practitioners in other fields using social
media. A more in-depth analysis of the benefits of goal setting and measurement with regards to
social media and what exactly should be included would benefit the practical side of the field.
The purpose of this study was to advance understanding of how American museums are
currently using social media, to ultimately develop a comprehensive social media plan for the
Ham Museum of Art. Specifically, the study sought to answer research questions about which
social media sites are being used, to what purpose and how the use is being evaluated. The study
also sought to find the extent to which museums are using social media to increase dialogic
engagement. Recommendations by professionals in the field also were investigated. Results
indicate that American museums believe becoming involved with social media is important, but
they are not using the sites at high levels of dialogic engagement. For the moment, museums are
mostly involved with one-way communication strategies using Facebook and Twitter to focus on
event listing, reminders, reaching larger or newer audiences by increasing the number of fans and
promotional messaging. However, there does seem to be some evidence to suggest that museums
are trying to increase their use of social media for more two-way and multi-way communication
Proposed Social Media Plan for the Samuel P. Ham Museum of Art
Presented By: Adrienne Fletcher
THIS PLAN IS PRESENTED TO THE HARN MUSEUM OF ART
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR
THE DEcREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 4
2. MUSEUM BACKGROUND 5
2.1 Overview 5
2.2 Mission 5
2.3 Objectives of the Ham Museum of Art 5
2.4 Facilities 6
2.5 Governance 6
2.6 Funding 6
2.7 Relevant Publics of the Ham Museum of Art 7
2.8 Secondary Publics 7
2.9 Current Position within the Community 7
2.10 Organizations in Direct Competition 7
2.11 Organizations in Indirect Competition 8
3. CURRENT SITUATION 9
3.1 Overview 9
3.2 Issues Hitting the Museum Industry 9
3.3 Trends Emerging in the Museum Industry 10
3.4 Current Position 10
3.5 Competing Forces Online 12
3.6 Public Relations Role with the Ham's Current Vision 12
3.7 Current Issue 13
3.8 SWOT Analysis 14
4. RESEARCH 15
4.1 Overview 15
4.2 Explanation of Study 15
4.3 Survey Results 16
4.4 Summary of Interviews 17
4.5 Interpretation and Application 18
5. GOALS & OBJECTIVES 19
5.1 Overview 19
5.2 Objectives 19
6. POLICY RECOMMENDATION 20
6.1 Overview 20
7. STRATEGY & TACTICS 21
7.1 Overview 21
7.2 Social Media Technologies and Platforms 21
7.3 Content Development 21
7.4 Resources and Restrictions 22
7.5 Integration with Traditional Marketing 22
7.6 Social Media Planning, Management and Support 22
7.7 Training 24
7.8 Implementation of Social Media Sites 25
7.9 Promotional Angles 26
7.10 Special Campaigns 27
8. SCHEDULE 28
8.1 Overview 28
8.2 Social Media Plan Yearly Schedule Outline 29
8.3 Sample Gantt Chart 32
9. BUDGET & RESOURCES 35
9.1 Overview 35
9.2 Additional Resources 35
10. MEASUREMENT & EVALUATION 36
10.1 Overview 36
10.2 Measurement Tools 36
10.3 Indications for Adjustments 37
10.4 When to Change Tools 37
11. LEGAL GUIDELINES 38
11.1 Ethics, University Policies and Legalities 38
11.2 Copyright & Fair Use 39
12. CONCLUSION 40
12.1 Summary 40
Social Media User Guide 41
The Harn Museum of Art distinguishes itself among
university art museums as a creative laboratory for
innovation in the visual arts. Accordingly, the Harn unites
the university and the wider community to make
groundbreaking contributions to research, teaching and
service. The Ham makes great works of art accessible to
diverse audiences by using a variety of innovative
approaches to the exhibition and interpretation of art.
As a medium-size museum located in Gainesville,
Florida, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art has also been
affected by the recession. Faced with lower revenue
projections for fiscal year 2010, significant decline in state
and private support, along with decreased endowment
revenues, budgetary cuts were made that affected each
department in some way. Currently marketing and
development is the second highest expense for the
museum after personnel expenses. Not surprisingly,
therefore, advertising at local, regional, national and
international levels for specific exhibitions and events has
been either reduced or eliminated altogether.
Along these lines, social media presents an opportunity, not only in the possibility of cutting
back marketing costs, but to also work along institutional goals of expanding the reach of
communication efforts to new audiences, deepen relationships with its current audiences and
increase engagement with all of its audiences. In leveraging the two-way communicative aspect of
social media, the museum also hopes to increase the level of positive satisfaction experienced
online by their visitors, members, and donors, in an effort to encourage repeat visitations and
This comprehensive social media plan is being proposed after analyzing the use of social
media in over 300 other American museums. The plan focuses on promoting the Hamrn Museum's
identity and mission online and on motivating active engagement with its online audiences.
2. MUSEUM BACKGROUND
2.1 As an integral part of the University of Florida, the Harn Museum advances teaching and
research and serves as a catalyst for creative engagement between the university and diverse
local, state, national, and international audiences.
The Ham Museum of Art is one of the largest university-affiliated art museums in the
United States. Its collections highlight photography, Asian art, African art, modern art and
contemporary art. Fully accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the
museum opened in 1990, after the University of Florida was donated the founding gift by the
surviving family members and benefactors of Samuel Peebles Ham. In 2009, the museum began
construction on a 25,920 square foot addition dedicated to the museum's Asian art collection.
Since 1990, more than a million people have visited the Ham.
Overall Purpose and Objectives
"The Samuel P. Ham Museum of Art promotes the power of the arts to inspire and
educate people and enrich their lives. To this purpose the museum builds and maintains
exemplary art collections and produces a wide variety of challenging, innovative exhibitions and
stimulating educational programs. As an integral part of the University of Florida, the museum
advances teaching and research and serves as a catalyst for creative engagement between the
university and diverse local, state, national and international audiences."
2.3 Objectives of the Harn Museum ofArt
To weave programs into the academic fabric of UF in order to enhance student
learning experiences and support university goals.
To broaden the national and international influence and reputation of the Ham as a
leader among university art museums.
To provide a welcoming environment that stimulates art-centered visitor experiences
for diverse audiences.
To use the museum's diverse art collections and exhibitions to facilitate dialogue
about global ideas and issues.
To double the attendance to 200,000 by the year 2013.
To work towards these objectives, the museum builds and maintains exemplary art
collections and produces a wide variety of challenging, innovative exhibitions, and stimulating
2.4 The Harn is one of the largest
university-affiliated art museums in the
* Designed by UF architecture alumnus,
* Contains nearly 7,000 works of art.
* 86,800 square foot facility including
32,800 square feet of exhibition space,
museum store, cafe, areas for art storage
and staff offices for work and research.
* Programs include docent-led tours,
gallery talks, outreach programming,
Family Days activities, Tot Time events
for toddlers and teacher workshops.
* The Bishop Study Center offers
educational resources such as books and
other interpretive materials with lending
privileges for teachers and instructors.
* Also offers a variety of lectures and
symposiums, films, and performance
events in a 200-seat auditorium.
2.5 The institution, as a unit of the
University of Florida, has as its official
governing authority the UF Board of
Trustees, president and UF provost.
* Has an external advisory board with no
fiduciary responsibility comprised of
friends and donors of the Harn, as well
as university related affiliates.
* The museum director reports to the UF
provost but is responsible for developing
the mission, vision and goals of the
* There are around 50 staff members, 72
docents, 50 volunteers and 30 interns.
* Only has two full time staff members
working in the marketing and public
2.6 Sources of funding come from
contributions, grants, membership, and
* For the fiscal year 2007-2008, a little
under $3 million was needed for the
museum to operate and work towards
achieving their goals, while it was able
to bring in over $5.5 million in revenue.
* The University of Florida, the state of
Florida and private donors also
financially help the Harn achieve its
goals and serve its purpose.
2.7 Relevant Publics of the Harn Museum of Art
UF and Santa Fe College students and faculty.
Ham Museum contributors, donors and members.
Residents of Gainesville and the surrounding areas.
Friends and family members visiting Gainesville.
2.8 Secondary Publics
All types of the local and regional media, including but not limited to:
o The Gainesville Sun
o Independent Florida Alligator
o "UF Today"
o "UF" magazine
o Gainesville Magazine
o Gainesville Today
Other local radio stations, TV stations and the local cable company.
2.9 Current Position within the Community
There is currently not a method in place to collect regular feedback from the museum's
visitors, but the constant expansions and high numbers of visitors is a good indication that the
organization is viewed in a positive light within the community. As one of the largest university
art museums in the country, the Ham Museum works hard towards being one of the top
university art museums in the eyes of its publics as well.
2.10 Organizations in direct competition for funding and visitation i ith the Harn Museum
include the other museums and art galleries in town or regionally.
The Florida Museum of Natural History is located next door.
The Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala.
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Jacksonville.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Jacksonville.
The Museum of Science and History, Jacksonville.
Numerous local art galleries.
Also the Art Hops that happen Friday evenings have gallery openings that are closer to
the downtown scene and may distract art fans from making the added trip to the Ham. There are
many downtown festivals and musical events that take up people's leisure time, as well as a large
library system, that are all easier to reach using public transportation than the Harn Museum.
2.11 Organizations in indirect competition for funding and visitation with the Harn Museum
include all other forms of entertainment in Gainesville.
Curtis M. Phillips Center for Performing Arts
The Hippodrome State Theater
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Royal Park and Regal Cinemas
Local bowling alleys, shopping centers, outdoor leisure activities, and sporting
Regionally there are a lot of amusement and water parks located south of the city that are
much bigger attractions and can detract visitors from stopping by Gainesville while traveling.
Disney World, Sea World, Wild Waters, Bush Gardens, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Universal
Studios are examples. Florida also has hot summers when the local cold springs or beaches
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Gift of Roy and Sophia Sieber, donated in honor of Anita Glaze
3. CURRENT SITUATION
3.1 The Harn Museum is looking to improve relationships and increase engagements n ith
visitors, volunteers and donors during a time of budget cuts, but has yet to catch up to
current digital communication opportunities.
As a result of the economic downturn, the Ham Museum's main sources of income from
the University of Florida, the state of Florida and private donors, as well as memberships and
visitor purchases have all decreased, while at the same time museum costs have continued to
increase. There is also a noticeable decrease in the overall numbers of visitors to the museum
while goals are still set to work towards doubling attendance.
Communications efforts need to be prioritized in order to boost attendance and donations
back up. While social networking and blogging alone account for almost 10 percent of all time
spent on the Internet,1 social media presents opportunities for museums to expand the reach of
communication efforts to new audiences, deepen relationships with its current audiences and
increase engagement with all of their audiences. These however, are currently being missed by
the museum due to limited time and resources. The inability of the Ham to keep up with current
communication trends is limiting it from advancing the UF mission of provide leading edge
services to the citizens of Gainesville and elsewhere, and it is inhibiting it from fulfilling its own
mission of fostering creative engagement with audiences everywhere.
3.2 Issues Hitting the Museum Industry
Museums all over the country are facing the same financial challenges as the Ham. They
are all trying to find ways to save money with the least amount of repercussions passed on to
their visitors. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, for example, eliminated up to 14
percent of its full-time and part-time staff, enforced a hiring and recruiting freeze, closed more
than half of its nationwide stores, they are receiving $1.7 million less from the city for operating
expenses in 2009, and lost already almost a third of what its endowment, one of the largest in the
country, is worth.2 Cincinnati Art Museum and the Indianapolis Museum of Art imposed layoffs
as well, and the Atlanta High Museum of Art reduced the director's salary. The Getty Museum
reduced its staff size by 62 positions and a quarter of its entire budget.3 Spending in all of these
1 Nielsen Company, The. (2009). Global faces and networked places: A Nielsen report on social networking's new global footprint. New York:
The Nielsen Company.
2 Kennedy, R. (2009, March 12). 74 Are Laid Off at Met Museum; More May Follow. The New York Times. Retrieved June 30, 2009 from
i.i . i. ...... 2, ',, ./13/arts/design/13metr.html?_r=l.
Kaufman, J. E. (2009, January 8) Museums make deep cuts in face of global financial crisis. The Art Newspaper, 198. Retrieved June 30, 2009
from http://www.theartnewspaper.com/article.asp?id 16704.
museums on membership, entrance donations, merchandise, parking, and museum restaurants
has gone down as well. Smaller institutions have suffered similar if not worse outcomes than
these major museums.
3.3 Trends Emerging in the Museum Industry: Social Media
Museums have increasingly become more involved with social media. According to
www.musesphere.com/Facebook, as of October 2009, there were at least 55 U.S. museums and
at least 33 international museums with groups on Facebook and at least 10 museums on
Second Life. There were 495 venues found on Twitter as of September 2009. Many museums
have set up accounts on photo or video sharing sites or have started their own blogs, while
others have found ways to incorporate wikis. Increasingly museums have begun to experiment
with and utilize these social media sites to find new ways to strengthen relationships with their
To allow visitors to follow the
restoration of a collection object
To observe indication of
visitor/volunteer/donor interests, perceptions or misperceptions.
To enable visitors to collect, upload and share artwork from museums, from their own
work or to hold visitor-contributed photography contests.
To mixed reality and the virtual world to create new levels of experience for some types of
To partner with other museums for online events.
To increase the use of dialogic communication practices with visitors, volunteers and
To further personalize communication efforts.
Analysis of Social Media Uses
3.4 Current Position
Currently the Ham Museum turns mostly to traditional media outlets to distribute
messages to its key audiences. These include local and regional papers, local event and online
calendars, flyers, direct mailers, posters, local and regional magazines, brochures, newsletters, a
quarterly publication, and rack cards. Printing is a major cost in the marketing department. All of
these, however, are also forms of one-way communication and do not allow for much
engagement from audiences. This use of one-way communication is also prevalent in the
museum's current use of social media sites. For the moment, the museum uses social media most
frequently for event posting, reminders, and promotional use.
Facebook: The museum's Facebook fan page is currently updated by the public relations
and marketing department, but there is no way to access it directly from the museum's home
page. For the most part, it is updated every few days but is mostly used to advertise upcoming
events. There are some photos and a few video links posted. Currently there are more than 500
fans to the page, but there does not seem to be much dialog between fans and the site. There has
been a number of people using the "like" button with museum posts but there is little
commenting. Currently online, females ages 18-24 make up the largest demographic on the
museum's Facebook page.
There is also a problem with consistency. Over the last two years the Harn has tried to set
up Facebook accounts several times. Although it has tried to corral the majority of fans to the
correct fan page, there are still six related old group accounts and one old fan page account that
have not been closed.
Twitter: The Twitter page is also not accessible from the home page and even harder to
find using the search function on Twitter. The museum sends the link in many newsletters and e-
mails. The museum has 163 followers, however, many of the followers on the Ham's Twitter
page are other UF affiliated groups not individuals. Although the research shows that part of
online engagement is to be connected and engaged with other groups, the new social media plan
aims to reach more individuals. On an optimistic look, people are tweeting about the Harn on
their own accounts. Within just one week in October 2009 on Twitter, there were people
independently writing about upcoming Ham Museum events. One was positive in overall tone
and the others were neutral in tone.
MySpace: The museum also has a MySpace page with 62 current "friends." The site is
also used for posting messages about upcoming events and photos of museum objects. There
does not seem to be any ongoing dialog between the museum and its MySpace fans. The
museum's MySpace is made up of a younger crowd than the other two social media sites.
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YouTube: There are three videos from the
Ham uploaded to YouTube. There are four
subscribers to the Harn's YouTube page. The most
viewed video has been seen 262 times, but there are
no ratings or comments. There are also a few videos
on YouTube that feature an event at the Harn that
were posted by someone else. There is however
interest expressed by visitors wanting to see more
videos, particularly of lectures or symposiums as
there are usually several people asking if a video
will be available online later, after such events.
Measurement tools: Google Analytics,
Google Alerts and the Facebook and Twitter stats options are all currently looked at to monitor
online activity. For the moment, numbers of follows and demographics are mainly looked at.
There are currently no other social media sites in use. There were no results found when
typing the Ham Museum into Technorati, the blog search engine site.
3.5 Competing Forces Online
Indirect competition over the museum's target audience spreads online. Not only do all of
the previously mentioned competitors have their own online initiatives, but also many
restaurants, cafes and other businesses, around town or regionally, are competing for the same
audiences' time online. Additionally, virtually any organization all over the globe can compete
for audience attention online since the Internet provides instant and endless access.
3.6 Public Relations Role i //h the Harn's Current Vision
The Harn recognizes that close working relationships with the college and university
communities, city and county tourism officials and the media are essential to successful
promotion and awareness efforts. The public relations department has set goals to focus on team
building within the museum, relationship-building within the community, and seeking additional
avenues for communicating with students, faculty, staff, alumni, local young professionals an
families. For the moment, word of mouth seems to be the most common method of why visitors
make the trip out to the museum.
Increasing multimedia connections with visitors was also added as a priority of the 2008-
2013 strategic plan. The e-mail list serve is steadily growing, but the department would like to
double the number of e-mail addresses over the next five years by finding ways to improve
effectiveness of their marketing efforts.
Kehinde Wiley, American, born 1977
Dogon Couple, 2008, oil on canvas
96 x 84 in. (243.8 x 213.4 cm)
Museum purchase, funds provided by the David A. Cofrin Acquisition Endowment
3.7 Current issue:
How can the museum most effectively utilize social media to expand the reach of
communication efforts and strengthen relationships by increasing engagement with
their audiences online?
Social media can work towards strengthen new and existing relationships through several
ways. It is easily accessible and enables instantaneous dissemination, making communication
able to be faster from the Ham Museum to their audiences. Its dialogic nature can be used to
easily personalize communications and allows a more two-way communicative approach for
the museum to engage with its audiences online. It also allows for new ways to receive feedback
so that the museum can deliver content with increased appeal to fans' and visitors' concerns and
Most importantly, social media provides access to a widespread global audience, which
will allow the museum to expand its overall reach. Looking forward to the opening of the Ham's
new Asian art wing, the marketing and public relations department is looking to clarify and
refine brand awareness of the Ham, in Florida and beyond. Social media can be used as a tool
along with traditional media, to work on heightened awareness for the museum by providing
greater visibility, additional partnerships and, ultimately, more visitors.
Fortunately social media can also work with limited marketing budgets, which the Ham
Museum is currently experiencing.
The museum would like to particularly focus its social media efforts to target students,
faculty and staff, local young professionals and families.
Social media and two-way communication require effort, strategy and monitoring,
however, should be an active task, and compliment not supplement non Web-based public
relations efforts. Therefore to insure social media efforts are effective, it is important to develop
a comprehensive social media plan.
3.8 SWOT Analysis
* People like spending time in museums
and positive experiences associated
with museums spills into online
engagement as well.
* The Harn continues to successfully
bring in large numbers of visitors.
* For the most part there are no fees
involved with using social media.
* There is a good deal of support
internally for the use of social media at
* Online, the museum experienced more
than 27,000 visits to its Web site
between January 2009 and October
* Interns are often available.
* Can encourage engagement between
* Can increase positive relationships with
* Encourages two-way communication.
* May lead to increased attendance.
* Brings new tools to gather feedback,
opinions and other information from
* Capable of expanding the museum's
reach. Specifically, the use of social
media may be a chance for the Harn to
reach a younger population.
* Limited manpower and resources
* Social media takes time.
* The pr and marketing department does
not have a lot of extra time to spend
learning or implementing something
* There is no current way to collect visitor
* If used passively, social media
becomes inefficient and ineffective.
* All other websites as well as social or
entertainment engagements are
competing for museum audience's
Opportunities of Using Social Media Threats to using Social Media
Opportunities of Using Social Media
Threats to using Social Media
4.1 Why become involved ii ith social media?
Social media is a type of media designed to be dispersed through online social
interactions and takes on a variety of forms including social networking sites, blogs, wikis,
podcasts, photo and video sharing, social bookmarking, and
virtual environments. Some examples of these are
Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
Facebook has more
than 250 million
Advantages: active users.
Expands an organization's overall reach
Can work with limited marketing budgets
Can be used to easily personalize communications
Can incorporate many two-way communication principles
Transparency and liability issues.
4.2 Before being able to make decisions about which types of social media to use at the Harn, it
is necessary to investigate what other museums are currently using and why.
A survey was created and administered using the Web-based survey software, Qualtrics,
and e-mailed to museum practitioners working all over the country. Nine in-depth personal
interviews were also conducted. The purpose of this exploratory study was to advance
understanding of how American museums are currently using social media. More specifically the
study questioned practitioners on current practices by looking at tools used, purposes,
importance, effectiveness, measurement, satisfaction and success.
4.3 There was a total 315 fully completed online surveys. The following is a summary of research
Results indicate that use of social media does differ by museum size.
The majority of museums are using 1-2 staff members to work on their social
media efforts for an average of 45 minutes a day and targeting both new and
current visitors equally but concentrating on young professionals and families
Those who describe their social media efforts as successful, are more likely to
spend over 30 minutes a day on social media.
Time, staff and an understanding of key publics online are seen as needed
most to work towards social media effective among respondents.
In general social media is believed to be important and that it is improving the
speed of communication with museum publics.
Respondents answered as using social media most often for event listings or
posting reminder notices, to reach larger or new audiences and to post online
promotions or announcements.
Facebook is seen as being the most effective social media site and Twitter is
seen as second most effective.
MySpace was rated the least effective site.
Perceived success and tactics
Those who describe their social media efforts as successful, tend to use social
media for more dialogic efforts than respondents with less social media success.
A majority of those describing their current efforts as successful rated number of
comments and tone as either important or extremely important.
Tactics more influential in encouraging dialogic engagement online are believed
to be quality of content and type of social media site used.
Those that use social media more frequently for dialogic engagement tend to rate
direct calls for fan participation as a motivational factor.
Google Analytics, Google Alerts, and Facebook Stats are the top three social
media measuring tools used most often.
Of those who take measurements, 40% of respondents answered as taking
measurements monthly and 25% answered as taking measurements quarterly.
4.4 Summary of Interviews.
Facebook, Twitter and blogging are the most prevalent social media sites
Twitter and Facebook are updated every day, usually several times a day.
Flickr, YouTube and blogs are updated anywhere from weekly to monthly.
Strategies and Tactics
Content quality is important.
Efforts will ultimately be futile in this medium if they concentrate on one-way
messaging strategies only.
Being witty, light-hearted, interesting, intriguing and funny were all
characteristics that practitioners described as working towards effective
"Direct calls for participation" motivates online participation.
Examples: Asking questions, posting trivia to guess at, asking people to
post photos of their experiences at the museum, hosting raffles or
competitions and trying social media-specific promotions, such as
entrance fee discounts.
Adjust topics as needed to fit perceived online interest.
Personalize communication and be quick to respond to posts by others.
Photos also are a successful tactic in promoting engagement.
Practitioners retained the right to remove inappropriate comments that would be
hurtful or disrespectful to others; but have not generally set related legal policies.
Time and Measurement
Only the practitioners who reported being able to spend 1.5 3 hrs a day on
social media were for the most part satisfied with current efforts.
Using the interface HootSuite can help save time
Facebook stats, Twitter stats and Google Analytics are monitored on average
once a week to once a month.
Some type of web analytics, such as Google Analytics, should be used as a
minimum measurement tools to include in an evaluation plan.
Effective use of social media includes setting realistic and definable goals.
Goals that can measure a bottom line, such as in donations, attendance and
member sign-ups, is the key to social media success.
Interpretation and Application
4.5 So what can be pulled from the surveys and interviews that can be used towards developing
the new Social Media Plan for the Harnm?
In terms of the social media plan for the
Ham, the present research suggests to start
small and focus on content quality, instead
of trying to implement too many aspects at
Since the museum already currently uses
Facebook and Twitter, this plan focuses on
improving effectiveness within these two
sites. Hootsuite is suggested for use in
planning and pre-scheduling as a time saver.
The Harn should consider removing its
MySpace account completely, since it has
been shown to be an ineffective site. Since a
YouTube account has already been started,
it will be kept but be worked on as a long-
term project, pending available resources.
The use of Twitter is proposed to
continue for event listings and more one-
way messaging. Its aim is to establish a
consistent online presence where visitors
and the media can have a consistent place to
take a quick look at daily events and
ongoing at the museum. Retweeting related
museum and art tweets by site followers is
encouraged as a way to show a form of
appreciation and a bonding of common
The use of Facebook focuses on using
interactive features, like increasing the use
of photographs from the collections and
events. Tactics call for online participation
from fans in an effort to increase dialogic
engagement on Facebook and include
posting questions, trivia, jokes and fun facts
to maintain an energetic and light-hearted
An initial survey of social media use by
those on the museum's e-mail list serve is
recommended as one of the first steps to
take in order
to more fully
understand According to a 2009 report
the museum's out by Forrester Research,
public almost 1/3 of all Americans
pbi use a type of social media
online. at least monthly
to strengthen their use of measurement and
evaluation. This plan outlines a goal and
objectives to ensure efforts are effective and
The web analytics program Google
Analytics (among others) is proposed to use
Given the speed at which digital
technology evolves, this social media plan is
created as only a three-year plan, from May
2010- May 2013.