Social commerce and the museum

Most cultural organisations now understand the value of social media, and big brand destinations like TATE, Guggenheim and MoMA have excelled at creating huge fan bases on Facebook and Twitter.

While promoting the museum offer as a whole and creating engaging posts or tweets has for many become standard practice, one area of the museum which doesn’t seem to have felt this social media impact is the museum shop.

Only a few institutions have Facebook pages or Twitter profiles for their retail operations. The MoMA design store has over 9000 fans, but this kind of success is the exception rather than the rule.

As social commerce becomes the norm for high street brands, are museum shops missing out on a vital channel to promote their offer and increase profits?

What is social commerce?

Social commerce is the integration of social media where people shop, and shopping where people are social.

This could mean selling items from your shop on your Facebook page, alongside a ticket to your latest blockbuster exhibition. Several brands are doing this, and tools like North Social make it easy for you to showcase what your shop sells on the social network.

North Social has a number of other tools which can help a museum to promote it’s retail offer. For example, you could offer exclusive discounts for fans with a ‘fan-gating’ page which requires people to like your institution to access the offer.

This not only promotes your retail offer, but also gives an incentive for people to become a fan.

As well as being active on websites like Facebook, museums shops can benefit greatly from adding ‘like’ buttons to the products in their online stores. Across the web, the Facebook ‘like’ button are clicked 1 million times per day, and this provides an easy way for people to share products that they like.

A recent survey found that 83% of UK consumers want to share information about purchases with friends and family, and people do this before, during and after buying.

Eventbrite, the ticketing company found that a Facebook like was worth on average $2.52 to those selling through their website, whilst a tweet was worth less than a fifth of that at just 43¢.

Another tool that museum shops might find useful is Facebook Connect. This uses information from an individuals Facebook profile to create personalized content. Amazon and Ebay use this to help their customers to select gifts for their Facebook friends, while MoMA used the same technology to create custom events programmes for their audiences.


Big brands see Facebook as a key battleground for the hearts and minds of consumers, but it doesn’t need to cost a fortune to use social media to benefit your museum shop.

Look at how you can add social sharing in to your online store and build from there. Track every click through to purchase with Google Analytics and learn what works and what doesn’t work for your unique audiences.

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