In this interview, Amy Fox, Social Media Content Manager for the American Art Museum (SAAM) and Renwick Gallery, discusses the ins and outs of her daily social media routines. She breaks down her strategies for planning intriguing content and the best practices for user engagement. Her methods make looking at art a fun experience!
SAAM and the Renwick Gallery are part of the Smithsonian Institution located in Washington, DC. SAAM holds one of the largest collections of American art in the world ranging from colonial to the present time. The Renwick Gallery features a unique collection of contemporary and decorative arts. The Museum’s online presence dates back to 1993 when they first launched their website. Today SAAM has a strong online presence with many active social media accounts. Amy is currently the guiding force for all SAAM social media accounts.
Amy’s background in cultural anthropology and interest in audience engagement led her to social media in the museum world. Her ability to use creative techniques to engage users has proven to be very successful. While she doesn’t aim to appeal to a specific age group or demographic, she does create posts with a certain type of person in mind. The SAAM user tends to be curious, have a sense of humor, or be an expert who wants to know more.
The content for the posts come from a variety of sources including the museum event schedule, upcoming installations, social media holidays, and even artist’s birthdays. Amy strives to create the online experience as something extra rather than an addition of any physical ties or featured exhibitions. By doing this, the user doesn’t feel like they are ever missing out. Some of the most popular posts have been those directly linking pop culture to the collection. For example, SAAM published several posts on Beyoncé’s birthday using lyrics from her popular album, Lemonade, to narrate artwork from the museum collection. The hashtag #HappyBirthdayBeyoncè along with Beyoncè themed emojis were used to link all of the posts together.
A goal while creating posts is to think of what the users will react to such as things will they find beautiful, funny, interesting, or anything that may add to their social currency. This ultimately helps encourage engagement and their desire to share with a friend. Amy also points out that engagement can come as a result of positive reinforcement of behaviors that the users are already doing.
Engagement online as well as the physical space has been a big push with SAAM in the recent months. There is now signage to invite visitors to use hashtags and share their experience. Amy pointed out that most visitors are already taking photos and now they’re invited to share them and translate their experience with others. Photos that are shared can be seen on the live screen in the Renwick Gallery or on the website.
As we all may know, social media doesn’t sleep, therefore Amy tries her best to monitor SAAM’s social media not only during operating hours, but also before and after hours. Time is of the essence when it comes to social media, especially for those who are asking questions to plan their upcoming trip to the museum!