Kerry Burns & Marcie Gordon, Social Media & Marketing Managers at North Carolina Museum of History

In this interview, I spoke with Marcie Gordon and Kerry Burns from the North Carolina Museum of History (NCMOH) in Raleigh, NC. NCMOH is a Smithsonian Affiliate and non-profit museum run by the State of North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. It is dedicated to preserving North Carolina’s history and telling the story of the people. Although it is situated in the heart of the capital city, it sees thousands of students from North Carolina schools and nearly half a million guests from around the world each year.

Marcie is the head of marketing and visitor engagement at the museum while Kerry is the museum’s digital marketing manager. Both of them manage and maintain the museum’s social media accounts. Kerry does the majority of day-to-day posting and planning while Marcie helps plan/create content and posts during special events at the museum.

Like most businesses and museums today, being active on social media is not an option for NCMOH. The museum has long been active on social media but Marcie and Kerry have ushered in a new era of planned, purposeful social media activity. They have begun networking with local organizations and other museums across the country and overseas to increase their reach. Promotion of the upcoming exhibit “North Carolina & World War 1” has led to a good amount of interaction and activity on Twitter, proving that you cannot predict what will “take off” on social media. The exhibit has been a huge undertaking for the museum and Kerry seemed to be pleasantly surprised at the amount of traffic his WWI posts receive. More information about the exhibit can be found here: http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/exhibits/NC-World-War-One. The museum also created the hashtag #NCWW1 for the upcoming exhibit.

Other topics of discussion include the process of planning social media content and creating a social media calendar, what happens when something unexpectedly pops up (Pokemon Go, for instance), and content creation. We also discussed which platforms the museum does and does not use, which platforms garner the most engagement, and, of course, hashtags. The idea of creating content for people who cannot visit the museum also came up. The museum uses YouTube for this purpose, something that even I, a part time employee at the museum, did not know about. Given North Carolina’s long and sometimes dark history, I wanted to know if there is anything they have deemed off-limits or too controversial to post on social media. Their answer is one that I think the vast majority of historians and museum staff would agree with.

Stay tuned until the end for a dose of southern hospitality!

17 Comments

  1. Kristen Peterson says:

    Megan: What was the “off-limits” subject Kerry described? I’ll guess and say the Confederate flag? Regardless of the theme, sometimes we don’t have control over such taboo subjects. When they do arise, I think it’s often best to not reply — it’s more apt to go-away.

    1. Megan Burgess says:

      Kristen, do you have the timestamp on where he says that? I don’t remember us talking about an “off-limits” topic and didn’t find it when I relistened to the end where I ask about taboo topics. Was it in a different part of the interview?

      1. Kristen Peterson says:

        Hello Megan: I was responding to your blog text (final paragraph), “Given North Carolina’s long and sometimes dark history, I wanted to know if there is anything they have deemed off-limits or too controversial to post on social media. Their answer is one that I think the vast majority of historians and museum staff would agree with.”

        1. Megan Burgess says:

          Ah, I see! In my post, I was referring to Marcie saying that history is controversial and you can’t shy away from the bad parts.

  2. Nicole Beddia says:

    Megan,

    It’s great you got to speak with both individuals! I thought the videos on YouTube were interesting to hear about. As an educator, I liked hearing that the education department was in the loop with those types of projects. It really seems like Marcie and Kerry work very well together blending various strategies for success.

  3. Rachel Rabinowitz says:

    Listening to these two people about social media was a great experience. It seems that the museum works together to help create their successful social media posts. I have to say that I loved the “Textile Tuesday” idea; I may need to use that myself. 🙂 I enjoyed hearing how much success the museum has had on Twitter with their upcoming exhibit. When museums can interact with and engage their audience, I believe that they can make lasting connections.

  4. Donny Caltrider says:

    What an awesome tag-team interview! Kerry once again highlighted the importance of knowing your audience when posting targeted content on social media, but I found it interesting that he notes objectivity as one of the most powerful drivers of audience engagement in terms of likes and shares. He didn’t necessarily say that more subjective posts were disengaging- I would be interested to know if they ever ran into a conflict with an overly pro-North Carolina history post or something similar with an audience that wasn’t receptive.

  5. Caroline Rohe says:

    I would have never have thought to use Pinterest for a museum, nevertheless, I kinda understand why Kerry does not use the platform much any more. Considering the North Carolina Museum of History has only 310 followers on Pinterest compared to their 12,000 plus followers on Facebook. In relation to follower numbers, I would drop using Pinterest and focus on Snapchat or another site.

  6. Melanie Claros Rodriguez says:

    I really learned a lot by listening to this interview, what a great collaboration that they have at this musuem! I connected the most with Marcie’s statement that non-profits have to try to stick together and form partnerships to help one another out. A lot of museums are non-profits and their existance depends on the partnerships that they form and nurture because of the audience that their partners might connect to. I mean, to have Krispy Kreme following them? WOW!

    1. Megan Burgess says:

      Melanie, Marcie is a phenom at marketing! At the museum, we have a docent station that has various food products that were born in NC like Krispy Kreme, Pepsi, and Texas Pete hot sauce. One Saturday, while there were other events going on, she arranged the items on the station, took a photo, and posted it to Twitter saying something about what great food products/companies we have here in NC. She then tagged the companies in the photo, which I thought was such a great idea!

  7. Lauren Szady says:

    I think it’s really cool how they tag-team to social media posting/content work! It sounds like they have a great relationship with their online audience to try to post things that interest them, as well as to promote the museum. I love the ending– Marcie is so right in saying that social media is a continual work in progress and that no one has all the answers!

  8. Jasmin Mitchell says:

    I love the fact you spoke to 2 fabulous people! I enjoyed the collaboration and open communication that happens with in the departments. I feel like this has really added to the success in the way they approach social media engagement. It was great that non-profits were mentioned in regards to partnerships.

  9. Katie Montecuollo says:

    Megan, I thought the idea of creating a content calendar to give you a general idea about content, but also to ensure that you are being flexible and adaptable to accommodate things that are becoming “trendy” on the different social media platforms (9:30-9:50) was a great idea. It reminded me about when we talked about creating a content strategy, which requires a similar balance.

    Knowing what is going on, both on a local level as well as a national level, can help to build collaborations between different organizations. As I have been following different social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook, I have seen several museum re-post and re-tweet other organizations had originally posted, as long as it was in line with their institution’s goals. It can both lead to a crossover between followers (as the North Carolina Museum of History found) as well as becoming more creative in the postings when resources are shared.

  10. Jeana Wunderlich says:

    Marcie and Kerry were so pleasant to listen to! I liked being able to hear two perspectives from the same team on this subject. I loved hearing about engagement using other companies (like Krispy Kreme) to reach people. It does reflect a strong sense of community to work with North Carolina-based companies!

  11. Sabrina Sanders says:

    Another museum thinking to use Snapchat! And, I did not realize using Google + can help your Google search engine optimization! I have heard the same sentiment from a number of interviewees that “It takes a village” to make social media happen- utilize curators, development staff, and education staff to help build content. Using a content calendar for two months ahead to communicate with the staff is a great tool.

  12. Jason Rusk says:

    It definitely does take multiple people to run a successful social media campaign. It was interesting to hear that these two run as a tag team on posting content. Of course they must like working together and make it work but I wonder when, if at all, they have their differences in content planning, strategies, etc. As I’ve spoken about before, many people seem to have their own agenda in the business world, it just really depends on how strong they believe in that agenda when it comes to being able to work and collaborate together if those agenda’s don’t necessarily mesh together.

  13. Craig Hadley says:

    I love the idea of creating content for YouTube that is geared specifically to those people who cannot make it to the museum to see a particular exhibit. This is a great concept that not only reaches an audience that cannot make it to the museum, but gives the wider audience a taste of everything that the museum is doing and illustrates its versatility. That is something I might look into doing ourselves in the future. BTW, love Krispy Kreme and dressing up like a pirate. Too cool for school 🙂

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