Social Media and UGC Best Practices for Museums

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W. Ryan Dodge, Royal Ontario Museum@wrdodger

Special Guest: W. Ryan Dodge

W. Ryan Dodge, Social Media Coordinator at the Royal Ontario Museum, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss how he harnesses the power of the staff within the museum for social media, the museum’s program to foster user-generated content from social followers, and how he negotiates a world that has no budget for social media.

Social Museum

At the Royal Ontario Museum, Ryan Dodge leads a social media team that includes every staff member in the museum. He encourages social media usage on both the personal level and the professional level across the institution.

Ryan starts by training the museum staff on Twitter. Many of them are already familiar with Facebook from their own personal use of it, but Twitter has been an effective communicator for the museum as a whole. They have a 9-page document outlining social media and content marketing best practices. As a public agency funded by the Ontario government, there are certain guidelines for the staff’s social media accounts (for example, no politics).

10509522 10152545808403147 4097270743178411081 n 425x240 Social Media and UGC Best Practices for MuseumsTo address these issues and more, Ryan holds monthly training workshops where he does a 20- or 30-minute presentation, followed by questions from the rest of the staff. This is not the corporate world, where Ryan would have a budget for social media; everything he does, he tries to do as free as possible. If he needs funding, it comes out of someone else’s budget. So he’s especially careful with all of his resources.

Some of the staff members active in social media under Ryan’s instruction include researchers from more than 30 countries around the world. By building connections with the community through social, Ryan and his team see returns in people buying memberships, visiting the museum, or participating in their paid programs.

Real Life Outreach

The Royal Ontario Museum hosted a “Game Jam,” where 19 different teams came in, used the museum’s resources, and created 19 games over 48 hours. This year, they’re running the program again with the theme The Evolution Revolution. “We want to find ways to reach new audiences, but also provide them with things that they’re into,” Ryan says. “We can really have a two-way conversation with people and work out something together.”

And, in celebration of the ROM’s 100th birthday this year, Ryan and his team asked museum visitors from prior decades to share their experiences in the ROM ReCollects program. Rather than releasing a traditional book about the history of the ROM, “we thought that we would ask people to write our history for us.” People shared their stories of becoming engaged at the museum, getting married or having their first date at the museum, bringing their kids there for the first time, or visiting for the first time themselves in elementary school.

This user-generated content has been a huge hit, both within the museum and without. “It’s about building that relationship,” Ryan says.

Holy Social!

Yahoo! announced a new partnership with Live Nation called Yahoo! Live. The endeavor will air 365 concerts in 365 days online. “Not only are they building this platform and experience that’s on the Yahoo! screen site,” Nick says. “They’re also integrating a lot of user-generated content.

In the unified platform, Yahoo! pulls together relevant posts from Tumblr, RSS feeds, and other content from Yahoo! channels. The mere scope of streaming a live concert every day all year is unreal. Yahoo! certainly has their work cut out for them as they take content creation and unified social platforms to a whole new level.

Social Media Number(s) of the Week: 86, 56, 72

Email marketing is alive and well. Of the American digital marketers interviewed, 86% of them regularly used email marketing as a tool. 56% said that email marketing was the most effective tool for customer retention. And 72% of U.S. users check their email on their phones.

E-mail still provides the foundation for all of the digital marketing we do. Proof positive is the fact that the social media networks themselves use email marketing for customer retention. “If you have an inbox, if you have a social media account,” Jeff says, “you know this to be true because they’re usually pinging you to get you re-engaged.

This may change looking to the future, though, because the youngest email users are utilizing email differently. They use it to sign up for the social networks but then never check it afterwards.

Regardless, social should still be the tool you use to get people into your own environment that you control, whether that’s onto your website, into your email list, or something similar. Earned and paid media should be driving traffic toward owned media.

See you next week!