Thursday 10 April 2014


Despite not being there, Museums and the Web this year gave me two things. One was some deeper thinking about the DMA Friends programme (already talked about that). The other was the announcement by Shelley Bernstein from Brooklyn Museum of changes to the Museum's social media focus.*

Now, that might not seem like a big deal in the scheme of things. But if you've been following Shelley and the Brooklyn Museum for as long as I have - and with the same level of admiration for her/their smarts, insight, bravery and sheer ambition - then it's a bit like being told ... oh, I dunno, that Bruce Willis has been dead all along or something.

Shelley explains the switches in this way:

As part of a social media strategic plan, we are changing gears a bit to deploy an engagement strategy which focuses on our in-building audience, closely examines which channels are working for us, and aligns our energies in places where we feel our voice is needed, but allows for us to pull away where things are happening on their own. 

In the rest of the post, she details what this really means right now - from leaving Flickr and the Commons to deleting their FourSquare page. As Shelley said at the time in a tweet: 'we owe it to the active when the community is. we owe it to them to leave when we can't be.'

Where this links inside my head to that DMA stuff is that phrase 'focuses on our in-building audience'. The amount of time we spend online having fun with people who might never (or only very irregularly) visit us is something I think about frequently these days. Those thinks are still cloudy, but they're coming together in something that I hope will make a rational appearance soon.

*The announcement wasn't made at the conference, but I daresay the timing is not coincidental.


Robyn said...

This got me thinking about a couple of things. I had a look at the comments from Shelley's announcement and there are a few people who seem really upset that the Brooklyn has gone and deleted all their photos (and therefore user comments) from Flickr. On one hand, it seems a bit cold-hearted of them to have done that, but on the other hand, what's the alternative? Flickr don't offer any sort of way to elegantly shutter an account.

Also - I follow the Dowse on Twitter and I enjoy the account, but here's the thing. I don't really care much about what's happening at the gallery when I'm not around to see it in person. If I'm in the Hutt, I'll happily go along and see what's on at the Dowse (and probably spent too long there and get all obsessed with it) but eight hours drive away, the Dowse is only an interesting Twitter account that posts interesting photos.

Courtney Johnston said...

Shelly's response to Ed Summers making the same point about comments makes good reading here

Having administered a fair less active Flickr Commons account, my observation is that the proportion of 'hey nice photo' comments vastly outweighs the meaningful. Now, you could argue that 'meaningfulness' is in the eye of the commenter, but do any of us expect the (generic) museum to save for posterity every interaction we have with them?

I am sketching a survey about museum twitter accounts at the moment, and your second point is something I think over a lot. What's the value of interaction (to both sides, but *especially* to the not-museum side) if the museum is not your local, and therefore a not place you're physically as well as intellectually/emotionally attached to?