Intern Weekly Response: Get Social

Posted on July 18th, 2019 by

Every week we’re asking our summer interns to share some thoughts and responses to various experiences and readings. This week we asked them to explore the world of social media. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here. 

~From Intern Elana: Instagram

This week, each intern was assigned a social media channel to analyze and consider. I was assigned Instagram and I could not be happier with this assignment. Instagram is the social media platform that I have personally used the most and that I have engaged with in museum settings from both a visitor and staff perspective. Therefore, I was excited to take a deep dive into the JMM’s Instagram account and think about what could make it better.

Let’s start with the things I really like about the JMM’s Instagram account. Firstly, I love how much we feature the collection and the different parts of the collection that we feature. Instagram is all about images and the aesthetic. When I scroll through a museum’s Instagram account, I want to see images of the museum, the things it has, and the things that happen in it, not a bunch of advertisements for programs that have long since passed or text posts of announcements. The main Instagram feed is not the best place for those sorts of posts. Generally, the JMM does a great job of maintaining this aesthetic. The photographs used are almost all extremely high quality and show an appealing image, whether it’s of an object, document, or event at the museum. I also really enjoy how the JMM uses “Throwback Thursday” and funny national holidays as an excuse to display the collections. It makes the posts more light-hearted and fun. Similarly, the tone used in the captions and the caption length are great. It is not overly professional or casual. The tone gives the impression that the JMM is simultaneously a place of learning and a fun place to go. The use of hashtags, especially in a place where they are hidden from the initial caption, is great. They allow the post to be seen by more people while not distracting from the primary caption. Lastly, the frequency with which the JMM posts on Instagram is great and helps the museum continuously connect with its followers.

Now, I’d like to move on to what I would like to see the JMM do on Instagram. Honestly, I really like what the JMM has been doing, so the changes would be fairly minimal. Firstly, I would delete posts of events that have passed. Though I do think Instagram is a good way to advertise programming, it might be best to do that within the Instagram stories feature or to delete the post once the event has passed. Because Instagram is all about image and aesthetic, it is best not fill up past feed with advertisements. I would also love to see the story and story highlight functions of Instagram used much more. The story function is not as great at capturing collections as the main feed, but it would be great to capture events in real time. Likewise, I think the story would be an effective way to promote blog posts. The story function allows you to link directly to a post so a viewer could read the post immediately. Then, the highlights feature could be used to show selected parts of past events on the JMM’s account page.

On the other side of the equation, as Jonas Heide Smith highlights in their “The Me/Us/Them Model” article, is the visitor posting of and about the museum. The article discusses the National Gallery of Denmark, which is an art museum. The approach that this museum took is highly different than what I believe the JMM should take, but some of the lessons learned can apply to the JMM’s Instagram. In exhibitions and programs, the JMM can encourage photo taking and sharing. I think the encouragement of sharing in Fashion Statement is great. This encouragement should make sense within the exhibit or program and not be a distraction from the goals of said exhibit or program.

To conclude, I would like to suggest some museum Instagram accounts that I think are particularly interesting:

@metobjectsconservation (or metpaintingsconservation, metphotoconservation, textilesmet, etc.) – This account features the “activities of the Department of Objects Conservation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Although this account has been less active lately, it illuminates the work that the typically “elusive” department is doing and allows the public access to what is happening to the objects that the Met holds.

@Smithsonian – This account is not for just one of the Smithsonian institutions, but for all of them. Thus, it features parts of all of the Smithsonian museums and institutions. I appreciate their posting frequency as well as the variety of parts of their collection that they show, from photographs to objects to archival pieces.

~From Intern Ariella: Tumblr

Fact: social media is important for museums.

If I had to condense all three articles we read this week, that would be the summary. Each of the articles discussed the implementation of social media platforms in museums. The museums that create an online presence range from huge institutions to smaller ones. They use the most popular platforms to engage their audience. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were the most commonly cited.

JMM has a social media platform that wasn’t discussed in any of the articles, though. None of the three discussed Tumblr.

After doing some Googling around, though, I realized why that is. A lot of museums don’t bother to use Tumblr.

It’s hard to explain what Tumblr is, and I say that as someone who has vaguely browsed through various Tumblrs for at least five years. According to the organization itself, “Tumblr is a place to express yourself, discover yourself, and bond over the stuff you love.” According to Wikipedia, it is a “microblogging and social media website.” Basically, it can be whatever the designer wants it to be.

JMM takes that idea and expands it. Its Tumblr is a combination of elements: promotions for upcoming events, themed posts for each day or week, links to blog posts. It’s relatively easy to scroll through. A simple blue background keeps audiences from getting distracted, so the focus is on the posts. Pictures are accompanied by short blurbs, long enough to convey information without boring the reader.

Looking at the JMM’s account, I was impressed that Tumblr was able to be such a viable platform for the museum. It’s more versatile than Instagram or Twitter, and easier to focus on than a Facebook wall. JMM’s Tumblr formats blog posts in yellow, so they quickly catch the eye. It offers videos as well as pictures, making great visual content. It even lists staff emails when they relate to a particular post. All in all, JMM uses Tumblr to connect audiences to the museum, even while they’re remote and behind a screen.

It’s great that JMM is making the effort to use Tumblr, especially when so many other museums have left it behind. But there are some ways it can improve its presence on the site. Most simply, it should be easy to find the account — the Tumblr should be promoted on the JMM website. Both Facebook and Twitter are listed at the top of the webpage, but Tumblr is nowhere to be found. At the moment, visitors are more likely to stumble across the account than to intentionally search for it.

The actual Tumblr can be changed a bit as well. Perhaps a different background can replace the plain blue: a wall from the Lloyd Street Synagogue, for example. Tumblr urges museums to “build rapport with their local communities and amplify their audiences by marketing events, education programs, and more to other localities.” If that’s JMM’s goal, they’re doing a pretty good job.

If you want to see more museums on Tumblr, there’s a couple that also use the platform impressively. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) utilized their Tumblr almost like an additional website. Unfortunately, they’re one of the museums that has abandoned Tumblr for other social media endeavors. But their posts are all online, and definitely worth checking out. The “Teens” section of the site is especially detailed – perfect for drawing in the audience that would be using Tumblr anyway.

Another account to check out is Turning the Book Wheel. Run by the Smithsonian Libraries, the account is much simpler than MoMA’s. Posts highlight the collections held by the Smithsonian’s 21 libraries, often matching up with a theme for the day or month. It also includes a healthy dose of puns, which I will always welcome.

~From Intern Hannah: Tumblr

The Jewish Museum of Maryland’s Tumblr right now features a mixture of links to the Museum’s blog, photos from school group tours, and photos from our collection. Other museums tend to focus on items from their collections on their Tumblr and other social medias, so the inclusion of the school tours gives an emphasis on education, one of the main tenants of museums. This focus of visitor experience is really great, and stretches across all of the JMMs social medias. I love how the JMM’s social media has a large focus on the school and camp groups that come to learn at our museum. As an education intern, that is the Jewish Museum that I know so it’s great to see that same focus on education displayed for all of those who visit the JMM’s social medias. I also really enjoy the #DYK series that the JMM does, where they post a photo from their collection that correlates to a special holiday, like their ones for National Go Fishing Day and World Snake Day. I think that it adds some fun to the posts on top of just posting the great things we have in our collections.

I think that the way that the JMM’s social medias are set up now are great, they emphasize things that are important to the museum, such as our educational programs and staff blog posts. However, I think that it would be interesting to turn to how other museums are treating their social medias and think about diversifying the types of posts included.

Many museums now are actually encouraging visitor interaction within their social media. This means that the museum not only allows, but encourages (non-flash) photography in their exhibits, and inspiring their patrons to post their photos when they leave, with the inclusion of a certain hashtag or while tagging the museum of that the museum might be able to share the post.

This opens up the conversation from just museum administration to the public, who are the ones that the museum is made for in the first place. The National Gallery of Denmark encourages visitors to take photos, with a sign in their lobby that reads “please take photos.” Although some museum professionals feel uncomfortable with the separation between human and exhibit when smartphones are added to the equation, I think that allowing visitors to interact with exhibits in a way that feels most natural to them makes for a more rewarding experience for them. Many museums, including the National Gallery of Denmark have set up exhibits and programs specifically for people to take photos of/with and share on social media. Whole museums dedicated to aesthetic and Instagram-ability is also a very large trend right now.

Museums such as the Egg House offer visitors an experience meant to be captured and shared on social media.

Increased social media interaction increases the amount of people who keep tabs on the museum and their social media, meaning hopefully more visits in the future. Museums are for everyone and I think that holistic experience should extend past your stay at the museum. Many museums are now encouraging their staff to post museum-related posts to their personal feeds, which I think is an interesting strategy, but should be up to personal discretion instead of the rule. Also, the JMM already puts a large emphasis on staff voices through its very active blog. I think that the longform format of Tumblr could be better utilized by the Museum. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter benefit from short captions along with photos, while platforms such as Tumblr and Facebook allow for more lengthy posts and multiple photos. I think that the Museum could better utilize the format that each platform uses to better create interactions with the public, ensuring their following of the account and maybe their visit to the museum.

Two museum Tumblrs that I found that I enjoy a lot are the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Jewish Museum of New York. Honorable Mention: Ashmolean Museum, which is University of Oxford’s Museum of Art and Archaeology.

~From Intern Mallory: Facebook

Social media is an aspect used every day by everyone. It’s a way to keep in touch with those who we don’t see, and to keep track of a wide variety of events and locations. In a world shaped so sharply around social media, it is common to see different companies and organizations using the various platforms of social media as a way of outreach.

For museums, social media is an excellent way to connect with the community. We had to read three articles for this week, each of which are discussing museums and using social media. I found these to be very interesting as, while I consider social media to be a quick and easy way of keeping in touch with others, actually looking at the time and effort placed into some of the things posted is amazing, and those working behind social media have to be able to balance so many aspects and ideals all at once while still getting a message across.

JMM uses several different social media platforms. For this week I was looking into JMM’s presence on Facebook. Personally, while I have a Facebook I don’t use it a lot. Yet I know that Facebook is an excellent way to reach out to the community and to spread information.

Just a quick glance at JMM’s Facebook page makes it clear how frequently they post, with daily posts. Daily posting is an excellent way to get people engaged, a frequent posting schedule providing new posts for the viewer which can increase traffic on the page.

I really like how, while there are daily posts, the posts span all aspects of the museum, not just the exhibits. The posts include events, education, archives, and even more. I really like this as it shows all sides of the museum, not just what the public sees at a visit. As it was said in an article we read for this week’s post, visitors “want to get a sense of how things are made. You want to build an audience before you have the big launch, rather than just sit on something and have it appear” (Keep the Conversation Going: How Museums Use Social Media to Engage the Public), the public wants to see behind the scenes. And JMM does an excellent job highlighting alternate aspects of the museum that visitors usually don’t interact with.

Out of JMM’s many posts, I enjoy the National Day posts the most. They provide not only a unique aspect of the museum and the collection but they also give a fun new bit of information for the day itself. I think that these days are very fun and engaging for everyone, for those already within the community and from outside the community.

For advice towards future posts on Facebook by JMM, personally, I don’t like clicking on links. I know that links can easily provide more information on a simple subject, but when I’m scrolling through social media in my free time I tend to stick to images and descriptions, rarely clicking on links. But, I do think that the mix of links on posts and images are an excellent way to grab attention, as they tend to be colorful and images draw the eye.

A few other museums that I looked at while working on this projects were the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute and the International Spy Museum. For the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, something that really stood with me was how not only would they talk about events, they would post every time they welcomed a new animal to their facilities, which provides a warm sense of connection, introducing the animal by name and providing facts about the species. This created a family-like community connecting the zoo to all who interacts with it. For the International Spy Museum I really liked how they highlight the lives of various spies, talking about their training and achievements. I also like how they provide not only behind the scenes shots but also reposting articles about more current events that relate to their topics.

~From Intern Megan: Twitter

Today I am looking at JMM’s twitter page and discussing what I notice and what I like, including any further ideas I have.

I like how the museum is employing the use of text posts and images. Many twitter feeds either lack captions to photos or lack photos. I like how almost each post has both. I do not think I was necessarily surprised by any posts but I really enjoyed seeing the photos of people from years ago being identified. I think these types of posts caught my attention and probably do the same for others; they open one’s eyes to a piece of history and allow one to relate it back to themselves. In a way, these posts are glimpses of the exhibits at the museum because they are part of the stories that JMM is telling.

Another thing I noticed is that the page is very active. This shows the viewers that a lot is going on at JMM and there are certainly things to get involved in, even outside visiting and seeing the exhibits.

My favorite post included a picture and description of the McKim Center’s camp group visiting the JMM.  I like it because it displays the connectedness that JMM has with its surrounding community. I think the description is the perfect length because it is brief but also tells what the group of campers did while at the museum.

One other museum twitter page I recommend is MoMa’s. I recommend it because just like JMM they make good use of pictures and captions. Further, they use videos and gifs in their post to catch people’s attention. I think this is a good strategy.

Another museum twitter page I would recommend is the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s page. I recommend it because in addition to notifying people about events they also post informational material and allow visitors of the page to be referred to articles and more.


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Performance Counts: Promotions, Marketing, Paul Simon, and the Museum

Posted on October 9th, 2015 by

In today’s Performance Counts we ask the question, “how do you get noticed”?  Well, if you’re a presidential candidate you probably just say something outrageous, but if you’re a small gem of a Museum in Jonestown it calls for a different strategy.  This month you might have seen our name attached to a familiar rock star’s face on a circulator bus or noticed a 30 foot inflatable guitar on the top of our building.  You might have seen an AP story that’s making the rounds (the Jewish Museum of Maryland covered in Idaho?) or looked at this morning and seen a top story from WBAL: “Baltimore museum hosts Paul Simon exhibit.”  You might have even seen something on the front page of yesterday’s Baltimore Sun about our involvement in working with Historic Jonestown.

You might think this is all just good fortune (and we’d be the first to be thankful for all our good luck).  But it’s easier to be lucky when we have a talented team putting our name forward.  Our success to date, and we strongly suspect there is more to come, is based on a combination of four forces – our in-house marketing team (mainly Tracie and Rachel), our colleagues at The Associated, our partners at Visit Baltimore, and our ambassadors on the JMM Board, especially our “ambassador-in-chief”, Board President Duke Zimmerman.  Thanks to this dynamite combo we have already taken more than 300 invitations to opening weekend events and we have already substantially raised our institution’s visibility.  I have asked Rachel to share some highlights of what’s already happened and what’s in store.

~Marvin Pinkert

How do you get noticed? As Marvin mentioned above: hard work, great partners, and yes: luck. As the marketing manager here at the Museum those three tenets are a bit of a mantra for me. It’s been very exciting behind the scenes for the last few months as we’ve tried to figure out the best way to capitalize on the broad appeal and “cool factor” that is Paul Simon: Words and Music. Happily, I think we’re already showing some real signs of success with organic coverage:

A cover story in the Baltimore Jewish Times – plus we especially enjoyed last week’s “MishMash” question on favorite Paul Simon songs!

A travel story in the New York Times online (Special thanks go out to Visit Baltimore for this one!)

A sneak peek tour with WBAL

Even an Associated Press story that has indeed been picked up as far away as Idaho and Florida (and in plenty of places around town – including the Washington Post)!

Marvin has also been interviewed on WJFF and will be appearing live on air with Tom Hall this Monday at 9:15am (so be sure to tune your radio to WYPR 88.1).

In addition to organic coverage we’ve lined up quite a bit of traditional advertising and promotion to further our reach including:

Television campaigns with WMAR/ABC2, Maryland Public Television, and Fox 45

Radio campaigns with WTMD, 100.7 The Bay, and WAMU

Print campaigns with Baltimore City Paper and the Baltimore Sun, the Jewish Times, Overture Magazine, Baltimore Magazine, and the Ravens Yearbook

And our partners at Visit Baltimore donated additional print coverage in AARP magazine and regional travel magazines in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and the Shenandoah Valley, as well as featuring the exhibit in recent editions of their e-newsletter “Baltimore Buzz,” and on their blog with a special entry from Marvin.

My personal favorite part of marketing has to be the social media piece – that is, the materials we create and post on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr. The fast pace and often irreverent attitude embraced by the user groups that populate these platforms make them the perfect environment for playful, often experimental work promoting our programs and exhibits.

For Paul Simon: Words and Music, one particularly cool thing we created is a series of “lip synch videos” to various Paul Simon songs. These short clips star JMM staff members and some very energetic summer interns. You can view the videos we’ve posted already here and there will be more to come! You can also follow along with all our Paul Simon related-tweetings by following the hashtag #PaulSimonBaltimore – you can even use this tag to share your own photos and thoughts with us and we’ll re-tweet our favorites!

As Marvin mentioned above, we’ve also been delighted with the coverage from the Jonestown Brand Unveiling, held on October 1st here at the Museum. Reporters from the Baltimore Jewish Times, Baltimore Sun, the Daily Record, and the Baltimore Business Journal attended the event which featured the Mayor, Jonestown State Delegates Luke Clippinger and Brooke Lierman, and the President of Historic Jonestown Inc, Lindsay Thompson.  You can read their articles at the links below!

Jewish Times:

Baltimore Sun:

Daily Record:

Baltimore Business Journal:

So now that you’ve noticed us – why not share with your friends and family?  Forward our e-newsletters, send links to our blog posts, or just check-in on your phone when you come to visit! Every little bit helps when it comes to catching the public’s eye.

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Performance Counts August 2014: Top Six Ways YOU Can Help Market the Jewish Museum of Maryland

Posted on August 22nd, 2014 by

You don’t have to be a media mogul to come to our aid this August as we prepare for the launch of Mendes Cohen. Here are six practical things you can do to help us grow our visitor population this fall.

Top Six Ways YOU Can Help Market the Jewish Museum of Maryland

1. Write a review in trip advisor – Many of you know that is one of the most frequently use travel sites on the web. People consult this site in deciding on their trip itinerary. As of this morning we ranked #28 among 158 attractions in Baltimore on trip advisor, not too bad, but we can do better. We have overwhelmingly positive reviews, but to move up the ranks we need to increase the quantity of our reviews. That’s where you come in. A quick description of a recent visit is all that’s needed. Our short-term target is to push up to position #14…one step above the Basilica…we can do it!

Leave a review:

2. Support JMM and public television on the same night! – we have been invited to participate in an upcoming MPT pledge night on Sunday, September 28th . We have been asked to bring 10 to 15 volunteers to MPT studios in Owings Mills. The volunteers simply need to answer the phones when people call to pledge to the station during the reprise of The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama. In return for this service we will have the opportunity to make a live pitch for the Mendes Cohen exhibit. This is in addition to the fact that our promotional fifteen second spots will also run that evening. MPT has said that it will provide kosher meals for all our callers. For more details (and to sign up) contact Rachel Kassman ( and join in on the fun.
Email Rachel to volunteer:

3. Talk to your rabbi – For those of you who are affiliated with a congregation, our upcoming Mendes Cohen exhibit combined with represents a couple of unique possibilities. One is the ability to incorporate some piece of the Mendes Cohen story into an upcoming sermon. This might be something about a time when America was under the barrage of rockets – and the Jewish defenders who came to the aid of their nation. It might be about thriving in a place of refuge, another theme where history and contemporary life come together. Or even something about how all of us try on various identities (professional and personal) and the role that our Jewish identity plays in that development.

While you are talking with the rabbi you might mention that we are organizing a Synagogue Night on November 6, 2014. We are marking the 50th anniversary of the re-dedication of the Lloyd Street Synagogue with a special event for rabbis, synagogue directors and synagogue board leadership from across metropolitan Baltimore.

4. Pass it forward – Don’t be shy. Do you have a friend or relative who shares your interest in Jewish history? Or who loves museums? Or is looking for things to do with their kids? Feel free to take any of the newsletters we send you (or our blog posts at and simply forward it. The newsletters and blog posts serve as terrific conversation starters for old friends who may have once lived in Baltimore but have moved out of town – and, of course, provide valuable information about a great place to visit if they come back to the city.

5. Become a friend – on Facebook. If you are not already a follower of our Facebook page, come join us. And now Mendes Cohen has his own Facebook page too – since the Cohen family home was the first in America to have plumbing for gas lights, it seems only natural to connect Mendes to the latest technology. When you become a friend, you not only improve our web statistics, you raise our overall visibility on the Internet making it easier for potential visitors to find us.

Friend Us

6. Send us a photo with Flat Mendes– when you visit the Mendes Cohen facebook page you will notice that his alter ego, “Flat Mendes”, has really been getting around this summer. We’ve not only spotted Flat Mendes at Locust Point and the Amtrak station, but at the Kennedy Library in Boston and out in San Francisco. Every journey Flat Mendes creates another opportunity to promote our upcoming exhibit. So download Flat Mendes today and don’t forget to pack him on your Labor Day travels.
Download Flat Mendes:

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