We had an interview with David Strauss, Director of External Affairs and Diya Vij, Designer and New Media Specialist of the Queens Museum of Art (QMA). The following includes a few key points that I found particularly helpful in regard to using social media for marketing and fundraising.
Serving a diverse audience
Queens, New York as “the most ethnically diverse locale in the country” has great impact on QMA’s mission, philosophy, exhibitions and educational offerings. The museum tries to be as inclusive as possible and fosters cross pollination of cultures, experiences and ideas that spring out from such ethnic diversity. In David’s words, “by becoming hyper-local, the museum is actually becoming more international.” QMA started to increase community engagement using social media about 3 years ago and Diya is currently the mastermind behind all that. While most of QMA’s physical audience are local (93% from NYC), the museum has a much wider online audience geographically speaking.
Digital media for marketing and fundraising
In the marketing perspective, their online efforts mainly aim to
- draw attendance to the museum by building exposure around exhibitions and programs
- create context for its offerings by bringing more people into the conversation
For fundraising, however, digital media has not been so successful except for a couple of special events. They found that audiences are still looking for more personal interaction with the museum and traditional channels such as community word of mouth are still more effective. On another level, their online efforts do help strengthen the relationship with major or corporate donors as additional outreach means.
Budget and ROI
Marketing accounts for 4% of QMA’s operating budget and 25% of that is dedicated to social media. In regard to ROI, the team finds it difficult to have a generic set of quantifiable metrics for their social media efforts. It’s because social media is fundamentally for building relationships and also each tool they use for each initiative they do has different goals and therefore different measurements.
Cohesive online-offline marketing
When QMA has a new offering, a unified plan will be developed to include both online and traditional marketing efforts and to ensure that these efforts coincide as close to perfect as possible. Diya shared an interesting experience that sometimes using social media to communicate with digital personnel of traditional media can be more efficient (skipping through traditional editorial processes to be published online directly) and also more effective (benefiting from the media’s reliability and fan base).
Cohesive online-onsite experience
For QMA, the key to ensure a cohesive online and onsite experience for visitors is to be honest. The team does not oversell or overhype anything that is on offer at the museum online; what they do mainly is to offer context and create a dialogue that engages people in the virtual space.
From the interview I found that social media has become an important component not only in the overall marketing picture for museum but also in the overall experience for the audience. Although it can be difficult to measure quantitatively, the goodness in social media for the museum to disseminate information, raise awareness, create context and build conversations for its offerings is tremendous. That said, we really need to constantly learn from and evolve with our experience along the way in order to make the most out of using these tools.