Research – Museums on Twitter

During April 2011 MuseumNext ran an online survey about Twitter and the way that museums should use it. We were supported in this effort by hundreds of museums who asked their followers to help us with our research.

The segment shown here are people who identified themselves as not working for museums (we may publish those who did work in museums separately), over 1000 people took the time to answer these questions, giving us a significant sample.

79% of those who said they follow museums are over the age of 25, showing that this is probably not the best medium for reaching a youth audience.

So what do the public think that museums should use Twitter for? 98.9% of those who took the survey said Twitter should be used to inform them about exhibitions and events.

Over 21% of those taking the survey follow over 10 museums, and a further 19.5% follow more then five, suggesting real potential for museums to link up to help to promote each other.

Please note: Please credit MuseumNext should you wish to reproduce this survey.

View all answers to this question in this PDF

- To engage with people interested in that museum or gallery. To make people feel special. To have a conversation

- Advertise changes and events 

- To inform about work, exhibitions etc but also to listen and discuss plans and issues

- Promoting new exhibitions & events, news and info about the museum

- Extending the museum experience beyond the gallery walls, exhibit news, discounts, discussions

- Giving interesting or useful information

- To communicate and make young people feel closer to the museum institution

- No idea. Not marketing, that’s for sure

- Tell background stories and share information that will make you want to go and see an exhibition even more: enrich their programme

- Informing people about new exhibitons, news relating to the museum, talking to people about the exhibits if they have specific questions

- It’d be nice if they recognised their place in a wider ecology/community of interest and promoted what others are doing too.

- NOT for retweeting indiscriminate praise – if I follow an institution, I already approve of them

- To show background informations related to their daily work, to allow insights into their collections and archives, to communicate with their visitors, to answer questions

- Keeping me up to date with what’s on; and in the current climate telling me if things are changing/closing because of funding cuts. At least I can contact my MP

- Livetweeting events (sometimes), interacting with other institutions on twitter, participating in ongoing and relevant conversations, and giving behind-thescenes peeks (even if it’s as simple as tweeting a funny office quote or something). A balance of all of the above, plus whatever the tweeter thinks might be interesting to try. In short, they should use the twitter feed to experiment with different ways to talk to other people.

- Ignite enthusiasm, transparency, incentives for participation, establish personalities of people who work there to humanize the museum, listen and respond to museum visitors/online users.

- To keep their fans and members informed of museum events and art world happenings. Museums are missing an opp to reach parents on Twitter regarding family programs. I bookmark several NYC Museum family pages and subscribe to their newsletters, but I don’t have time to pursue so many sources to plan museum activities with my kids. A Thursday Tweet from museums regarding weekend family events or workshops would be helpful.

- Help further its brand — is it a fun place for families and kids? Then tweet funny facts based on the collection. Is it a gallery with amazing art? Tweet about commentary and opinion of that art. A lot of followers are not local, so don’t tweet exclusively about events. Point me in the direction of related topics, for instance, a nat hist museum could tweet about a recent paleo find in China.

- It completely depends on their goals as an organisation and their communication strategies. Keeping people updated about opening times etc is one thing – but there is a great opportunity to engage new audiences in collections and exhibitions in a different way, as long as it is faithful to the intentions of the artist or exhibit. Things like Samuel Pepys Diary being tweeted ’by the man himself’ are interesting examples of historical content being given new life, although that wasn’t by a museum. All museums have brands now anyway, their tweets should reflect the personalities and tone intended in their organisational brand.

- Twitter should not be an old fashioned advertisement – in my opinion twitter is a place to talk, to ask questions, to give answers, to tell, to listen (well, to listen means on twitter that you read …) – twitter should be used like a square where you can meet othersLetting people know what’s happening there, exhibitions, talks etc etc even though I do like it if I get a freebie, I don’t feel this is needed.

- Please post more about your exhibits. Trying to tie current events (Cubs game) or holidays to a painting that has nothing to do with the day is a long stretch and doesn’t really tell me about the museum.

- To engage with people interested in that museum or gallery. To make peoplefeel special. To have a conversation.Advertise changes and events To inform about work, exhibitions etc but also to listen and discuss plans and issues

9 Responses to “Research – Museums on Twitter”

  1. I think by failing to follow their followers most museums demonstrate that they are not interested in the dialogue that Twitter offers, but prefer to try using it as they would any traditional advertising medium. In doing this they miss a massive opportunity to engage with their audience.

  2. [...] their audiences online through social networking (see what people want from museums on Facebook and Twitter). However, these interactions (at least via larger institutions) still seem to target the masses [...]

  3. Monae says:

    How was this data collected? How many respondents were there? How did you distribute this survey?

  4. Is there a possibilities of getting this raw data set? I would love to run some more comprehensive analyses and stats beyond these frequencies and would be happy to send the results right back to Museum Next to publish on this site. There are so many “analytics” and metrics for social media and web use, but they tend to only take us so far. As someone on the audience research/visitor studies side, I would love to help museums push this learning further and make it more usable.

  5. ocarina says:

    Your numbers and blue bars don’t quite match up. (See age of participants, under 16)
    Hope the rest of it is accurate, because it’s interesting reading!

  6. Gina Koutsika says:

    Is there a fuller report that can be disseminated?
    thank you
    G Koutsika

  7. [...] 1) The Things We Could Share – Social media channels allow people to share information more quickly and more easily than ever before to their friends, their family, their colleagues even their enemies. This distribution goes far beyond forwarding funny cat videos, they can share their likes and dislikes on an increasingly frequent basis – loving or hating that might be about your organisation and opinions that have power. Research undertaken by Museum Next (in April 2011) demonstrated that 83% of people were more likely to visit an exhibition if a friend recommended it on Facebook, with this figure rising to 93% for Twitter. [...]