5 lessons from museum social media tactics

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At 21st century, social networks is an essential tool that can be used to promote a brand or business and create and animate a community. This is especially true for the art world, often accused of being too elitist and out of reach. And if social media, especially hashtags and TikTok Videos — have been key to making arts institutions more widely accessible? And how can entrepreneurs and startups use these tactics to their advantage?

1. Create your own unique thematic hashtag and invite your audience to contribute

Some institutions are ahead of the game when it comes to social media tactics and generating online engagement. You’ve probably seen the #mygirlwithapearl hashtag floating around. This campaign was created by the Mauritshuis in The Hague when its most famous work, the work of Vermeer a girl with an earring, left for an eight-week exhibition in Amsterdam. The concept is quite simple: the museum is asking the public for new versions of the painting, which will be exhibited as a replacement for the famous painting. It is open to all and all materials are allowed. This creative opportunity attracted more than 4,900 entries which are skyrocketing in terms of reach.

The museum deftly took advantage of a less than ideal situation (its most famous painting being away for two months) and used it to generate engagement and advertising. If they can, so can you.

Related: Learn how to grow your social media following with hashtags

2. Make these videos and make them short, sweet and fun

Another museum generating tons of social media engagement is the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Despite being one of the UK’s most respected art institutions, the museum doesn’t take itself seriously on social media, especially on ICT Tac. The V&A’s social media team took a bold, hilarious and irreverent approach to their collections, sharing perfectly packaged informal short videos for the Gen Z’s sense of humor.

A video is notoriously titled “Bums of the V&A” and takes viewers through the museum, showcasing the best bums from the institution’s many statues. This specific video has nearly 40,000 likes. The museum’s TikTok account has 81,000 followers and more than 2.3 million total likes.

3. Maximize your content opportunities: go behind the scenes!

Likewise, Madrid’s Prado has over 400,000 followers on TikTok. The museum mainly publishes behind-the-scenes videos, as well as short educational clips. It has amassed over 3.8 million likes. Museum staff, like curators and restorers, appear in videos, answering questions or just showing off their skills. The fact that the museum has managed to build such a large community and generate so much engagement is amazing, especially since their videos are mostly in Spanish. This proves the power of social media when it comes to connecting a museum to its audience, and similarly for any business.

Related: 9 tips for growing your small business with social media marketing

4. Create memes and post more pets (Yes, it works on business accounts too!)

Not many museums take advantage of the power of social media. When they do, however, the numbers are incredible. Take the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), for example. The museum has launched a #DogsOfLACMA campaign, which features photos of visitors and their dogs in the museum’s outdoor spaces. This prompted visitors to submit their own photos by adding the hashtag, generating great engagement for the museum.

LACMA currently has 873,000 followers on Instagram and the #DogsOfLACMA hashtag has been used over 1,400 times. LACMA social media accounts are also notable for usage memes showcasing works of art housed in the museum. An Instagram post, which says “I’m risking my whole career and my future for 5 more minutes of sleep” on Mallet’s Venus and a Sleeping Cupid (1810), amassed over 12,000 likes. Their “meme” posts are more popular than more regular photographs featuring works from their collection – by far.

Related: It’s time to take memes seriously. 5 strategies to incorporate memes into your marketing strategy.

5. Make those scrolls!

A final example is New York’s MOMA, the world’s most followed museum on social media, with over 5 million followers on Instagram alone. This number is rather staggering. However, WOAgri’s engagement rate is actually quite low. Likes are hovering in the low 100s, which isn’t a lot for an account with over 5 million followers. The posts that generate the most engagement tend to be coils. This shows that the more personal your posts are, the more engagement you will have. This goes for any industry or business. Posting sterile, color-coded images may look great on your feed, but won’t drive engagement and build community. To start connecting with people on social media, letting your personality, originality, and sense of humor shine through is the way to go.

It may be controversial that official art institutions like the V&A and LACMA publish art memes, but these tactics work. Memes are relatable, funny, and more likely to be shared than other posts. The best way for museums to create engagement on social media platforms is to adopt an informal tone to become relevant while remaining educational. Similar to these historical institutions, new businesses in the cultural field must try to be more creative and less traditional on social media to stay authentic and connected to their audience.

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