Intern Weekly Response: Get Social!
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 read a selection of articles on Museums and Social Media, and write a brief response focused on the JMM’s use of social media in a particular channel. We also asked them to recommend other museums’ social accounts and to try their hand at creating their own posts for the JMM’s twitter, tumblr, and instagram channels! To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.
The Wonderful World of the JMM Instagram
By collections intern Joelle Paull
The JMM instagram @jmm_md shares stories from the collections and exhibits, behind the scenes looks featuring JMM staff, and highlights from programming at the museum. Ultimately it is what you would expect from an institution like the JMM. My favorite recent posts are the series of weddings related to the ongoing Just Married exhibit. Who doesn’t love looking at wedding photos from weddings throughout the decades? They are the perfect way to engage followers with fun stories and share content related to the exhibit.
It would be interesting to see the account taken over by a staff member in a different department, visiting curator, or even a partnership with another museum or institution. Whether a day or a week, it would be a change from the institutional voice of the account and could equally engage long term followers and new users alike.
My Instagram feed is often full of posts from museums around the world. Two of my favorites are the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (@hammer_museum) and the Storm King Art Center (@stormkingartcenter). Hammer often posts images of visitors interacting with the exhibits, permanent collection, and their Thomas Heatherwick Spun chairs. Especially during rainy weeks like this one, who wouldn’t welcome images of the beautiful open air museum on their Instagram feed? The incredible views of the Hudson Valley and great art inspire social media envy. The Storm King Art Center, like the Hammer, often reposts posts from other visitors. It is a fun way to see how people interact with the landscape and art in a unique way. Check both of them out!
Tweet a little tweet on twitter!
By exhibitions intern Ryan Mercado
The world of Twitter is a crazy one! Almost everyone is on it expressing opinions, announcements, policies, or winners to contests. It’s no wonder that museums eventually got into this practice too. This week, we interns were asked to look at a social media channel and respond to the JMM’s use of it after reading an article. I got Twitter as my assigned channel, and I read the article, “The Institution as a user: Museums on social Media.” The article is mainly about how social media can make a museum seem more human and personable. Some examples listed in the article include museums responding to questions that visitors tweet at them.
Does the JMM have a specific voice on social media, specifically twitter? Scrolling through the twitter account of the JMM is like scrolling through a current event’s page of a catalog. There are many articles and links to the museum’s website and to the blog. Pictures of images are showcased with beautiful resolution images, and of course, retweets from other institutions!
However, there are some personable tweets that make you feel more connected to the museum. #MapMondays is a weekly tweet of cool maps that I otherwise would not see, #marryingmaryland also appears on the twitter page to showcase stories of weddings, and like any social media account, throwback Thursdays or #TBT are tweeted as well. Those posts are interesting and give me, the user more insight into the museum, and into things I would not normally see in exhibits. The Twitter page therefore does have its own voice, it’s a more personal voice that shows us more of the JMM than what we normally would not see.
The JMM on Tumblr!
By exhibitions intern Tirza Ochrach-Konradi
I like that the JMM posts very consistently on this platform. There is a steady stream of original content going up on the blog. My favorite post is one that I found got significantly more interaction then most other posts. This was the canoe day post. I think this post did so well because it was photo heavy and text light. All of the content was readily available, without needing to click through to reach a full text or to follow a link to a different website. I also appreciate the tags used: canoe day, canoes, boats, summer, boating, collections, and museums. Good tags do a lot to get posts in front of people’s eyes. In comparison tags are doing less work for a post from this past week which links to a magazine article entitled, “Solving the Mystery of ‘La Estrellita,’ the Spanish Dancer who was Really a Nice Jewish Girl from Cincinnati”. The tags on this post are: la estrellita, stella, hurting, dancers, jewish, and tablet magazine. La estrelllita, stella, and tablet magazine are all relevant tags, but they are not tags that will help the post spread. Good tags to add for this picture could include: dress, beaded dress, sepiatone, San Francisco, California, nice jewish girl, museum, and museums on tumblr.
I love that the Tumblr site links to the JMM’s other social media, but the theme lacks a search bar. There is a lot of careful tagging of posts which is awesome. By having a search bar and a list of the tags associated with each exhibition people would be able to search the site to finds all the posts the Jewish museum made about Just Married, Beyond Chicken Soup, or whatever caught their fancy. One of the museum blogs I’m recommending does this particularly well, Museums on Tumblr. (Although it isn’t strictly a museum Tumblr blog.) It reblogs the best content from museum blogs across Tumblr so you can find a bunch of museum blogs through browsing its archive. This is where it’s search-ability comes in handy. If you want to find all of the posts they have shared from the Exploratorium’s blog you can search for them. My other museum Tumblr recommendation is the Tate Collectives blog. This blog is incredible for its level of interaction with the Tumblr user community. Lots of its content is rebloged for other sources and it also offers young artists the chance to have their art featured on the blog. This isn’t a level of investment that is possible for the JMM, but it’s exciting to see the breadth of what is possible!
Damn, What a Gram!
By education intern Sara Philippe
The JMM does a great job of including a great variety of material on its Instagram account. The account consists of everything from professional-looking images from the museum’s archives to casual, often humorous posts that are very clearly from a real person (Rachel, the social media manager), to promotional material for upcoming events at the museum. It is clear, after going through many posts, that there is an effort to humanize the museum through snapshots that provide glimpses into daily life at the museum and the work the staff does, while emphasizing the museum’s principal role as a place that houses valuable historical artifacts, some of which can be accessed through visiting its exhibits, and others of which can best be shared on a social media account such as an Instagram. I really enjoy the posts that give the public access to some of the many of the museums treasures that are not physically available to the public.
For example, this post! It consists of a telegram sent by Henrietta Szold, an important figure in Baltimore Jewish history, congratulating parents on their daughter’s wedding in 1927. I love that this post offers a tidbit of insight into the life of a fascinating historical character while also keeping things current by keeping with the theme of weddings and reminding followers to check out the museum’s wedding-related information and artifacts on display in person at the museum itself. One suggestion I have for the museum’s account would be to post more photographs of visitors to the museum, and to then use this a platform to encourage followers to post their own photos that highlight their trip to the museum. I also would love to see more video posts, which would make the JMM’s Instagram all the more exciting!
The Field Museum in Chicago has a great Instagram account that features beautiful images accompanied by very interesting information about animals, plants, and other items from its collections. The account is full of fun facts and detailed descriptions that make you want to see what else the museum has to offer by making a visit. You really get the feeling that experts are contributing their scientific knowledge to the content of the Instagram. Check out their account here.
I also recommend the Studio Museum of Harlem’s account, which showcases wonderful photos of its artwork, videos of talks and events hosted at the museum, and images of people at the museum, engaging with and enjoying its exhibits. Check them out here.
Getting Social: The Use of Twitter and the JMM
By collections intern Amy Swartz
This week, we learned about social media and museums and read three different articles about the ways a museum can use social media. However, one of the key themes I drew from the readings was about how museums have a dual identity in social media. Often in many social media accounts run by museums there are posts catered to different audiences. There are posts that feature accessions and objects in the collection and there are more personable posts such as blog posts and retweets, and then there are promotional posts such as events. However, museums are increasingly trying to bridge the gaps between the Me/Us/Them or the Museum/Museum Employees/Visitors or Guests.
The Jewish Museum of Maryland (@jewishmuseummd) uses all three forms of content on their Twitter channel. The account frequently displays various accessions, often related to daily holidays and has trending hashtags for exhibits. It also features blog posts from employees and interns in its posts which fulfills the Us in the museum content. However, there are less posts by guests or visitors on the JMM channel. One thing that the JMM account does particularly well is its use of catchy hashtags for exhibits. One of the best examples is the current hashtag #MarryingMaryland and #JustMarried. These are successful for two reasons. Firstly one is the name of the exhibit and the other is catchy (the use of alliteration is often successful as a hashtag) and can be used by anyone married in Maryland.
Two other great museum accounts to follow are the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Twitter account @metmuseum and Highclere Castle’s Twitter account @HighclereCastle which not only provides cool background looks into its collections but also caters to current pop culture. The best example of this was a recent post that the Met posted regarding a recent series of tours centered on the 50th anniversary of the well-known book “From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” The Highclere Castle account also caters to pop culture, fully accepting its identity as the place where the tv show Downton Abbey was placed, using the hashtag #TheRealDowntonAbbey and hosting events related to the series.
By education intern Erin Penn
The Jewish Museum of Maryland’s tumblr serves as a great site to display all of the happenings of the museum. As a one-stop shop, JMM’s tumblr contains recent blog posts, interesting articles, and photos from the JMM’s collections. I really enjoy the range of posts and the continuous flow from pages. There is a culmination of posts directly related to the museum and pieces for all museum lovers. For example, “Ink for the Arts” hangs next to an intern blogpost.
Other museum tumblrs use this social media platform to share exhibits and show behind the scenes of museums. I recommend the George Washington Univeristy Textile Museum and The New York Public Library. The GWU textile Museum tumblr page shares not only great high-resolution images but also shows close up shots on how the employees manage and display these textiles. This website even has several posts showing the storage units—a real behind the scene treasure! The New York Public Library’s tumblr is great for several reasons. I personally love seeing their book suggestions for subway reading. It’s cool to picture scrolling through this tumblr while riding public transit from your smart phone.