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One page or two? Facebook in the Museum

A couple of times I’ve been asked about best-practice for using Facebook in the Museum/Gallery institutional context. We’re all familiar with Facebook, the social media gorilla in the room. And if you’re reading this, then you’re most probably familiar with it for your personal use and have interacted with some organisations, retailers, museums, bands, etc in the past.

Although it’s a little presumptuous, I’m going to take it as a given that you want your institution to have a Facebook presence, if only because you see everyone else has one. Given that stance, how to use it effectively in 200 or so words?

  • Commit to posting and responding to users’ posts
  • Post with consistency, even if that consistency is once a fortnight.
  • Stay true to the overall message of the institution, but do so in an active, engaged tone
  • Ask questions of your audience and answer theirs
  • Be a good social media citizen
  • Reward engaged users
  • As with everything, quality over quantity
  • Lastly, make it part of someone’s role to ensure the above is happening

With the above in mind, should organisations create different pages for different departments, events or specific people/exhibits? I would only create pages if they have unique identities and unique~ish audiences – as well as meeting the above criteria. Be wary of allowing a Facebook page for a specific department, as a museum’s departmental structure isn’t always relevant to it’s audience. Creating a page for a one-off event rarely works, as there is no ongoing engagement. Lastly, but mostly importantly, only create them if staff are committed to filling them with content and responding to user posts. If it’s not an articulated part of someone’s role, an ongoing commitment is difficult to ensure.

Using the MCA, where I work, as a case study. We have a successful organisational page http://www.facebook.com/mca.australia – one of the top five most popular Museum pages in Australia. We also have a page for our youth oriented ongoing event series called generationext http://www.facebook.com/mcagenerationext – with different tone, audience and content to our official page. And we’re looking at adding two more, although we won’t launch them until they meet the above criteria.

02/09/2012 EDIT: The MCA has now launched MCA Store (http://www.facebook.com/MCA.Australia.Store) and ARTBAR (http://www.facebook.com/MCAARTBAR) as they met “the above criteria”.