Annelisa Stephan, Manager For Digital Engagement, The J. Paul Getty

Annelisa Stephan’s Bio

My interview was with Annelisa Stephan of The Getty in L.A. California. Stephan has been at the Getty since 2004, where she has held numerous jobs writing and crafting stories for the Gettys social media. In 2014 she became the Getty’s Manager for Digital Engagement. In her new position she has taken her writing and story telling skills to a whole new level of creative engagement. According to Stephan’s linked in page she leads and manages: 1.Content strategy for audience-engagement projects involving social media, blogging, video, and apps. 2.Manages digital media team including the Getty’s only dedicated full-time videographer. 3.Serves as social media editor-in-chief and guide on policy, strategy, and editorial questions. 4.Leads editorial for institutional digital brand guidelines.

The Interview

My interview with Annelisa Stephan was just great! She is a very knowledgeable and kind person who has taken the breadth of her interests, talents and professional experiences to help create an image for the Getty’s online community through social media engagement. The interview highlighted a few key points that helps exemplify our class assignments; thereby, guiding my understanding of a “real world” view of what it takes to create a successful and meaningful social media experience. I would like to share with you today a few valuable takeaways that will surely enrich our understanding of the impact of social media in museum.

Working in Social Media?!
The questions we have been all thinking and are too afraid to ask…
Is it a place for me? What if I don’t have a background in it?

With these thoughts and questions in mind I thought it would be very useful to understand Annelisa’s background and how she has applied it to her work as a Manager for Digital Engagement.

Annelisa, shared with me that her education was in Art History and in Linguistics. Her background of words, language, and images seems to have created the perfect marriage for her said skills to meet her passion of: creating stories. Story telling as a form of communication with in museum learning is a wonderful way to create a meaningful museum experience. With in the world of social media Annelisa can apply her story telling passions by creating a ‘character’ with in the Getty’s content of posts, responses and clever wit of conveying said messages.

In conclusion as new museum professionals our passions, education and skills are all things that can be integrated with in social media for a museum.

Engaging Audiences With Social Media
How do they do that!!?
The Getty is a huge museum and has many different facets encompassing the institution. The museum uses multiple platforms for engaging their audiences such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and the Getty’s blog the Iris.

After speaking with Annelisa it has become clear that audience engagement, for the Getty, is about putting the audiences needs, likes, and wants first even before that of the museum’s. With this in mind Annelisa makes it very clear that social media is a tool for the audience and the Getty is to help their online community flourish with in their learning endeavors. The Getty uses various interpretative strategies with in there approach such as Connecting People to People through their blog and participating in events like #AskACurator day.

In conclusion, the museum is able to communicate with such a vast online audience through a thoughtful unique approach that serves their online community through having a unified voice and staffing people round the clock to meet said needs.

To find out more please listen to Annelisa Stephan’s interview here!

Questions List

1. I would like to learn a little bit more about you and your background. What type of work did you do before you worked at the Getty? Do you feel your experiences have led to your success in the Social Media arena?

2. Let’s talk platforms: The Getty uses
Which platforms do you think are the most successful?
Do you think each platform serves a different purpose?
What type of content do you use on social media and is it the same for each individual platform?

3. Let’s talk little bit about audience engagement!
How do you engage your audience at the Getty? What Interpretive strategies do you employ? Ie: “Connecting people to People”

4. How do you handle the challenge of the Getty’s various other branches? ( “The Getty” and then there’s the Museum, the Foundation, the Research Institute, Conservation, etc.). How do your efforts for the Museum dovetail, complement, or compete with those other voices? What are the pros and cons for an institution that takes the approach the Getty has chosen to take?

5. What was your most successful social media project / campaign? And why?

6. I feel that you have a very important job of acting as the voice for the Getty. Through social media you have the chance to reach, inspire and communicate art to people around the world…

Do you have advice for others: who seek to create a creative and inspiring image for a museum?


  1. Kristen Peterson says:

    Jasmin: Annelisa’s academic background certainly gave her all the skills needed to be a stellar social media manager. Add marketing, and she’d be unmatchable. Her background does give her all the tools for great storytelling. Also, the museum mans their social media 24/7. Impressive!

  2. Rachel Rabinowitz says:

    It was very interesting to hear that Annelisa has had so much history with the Getty. She is able to understand how it has grown from getting involved in e-newsletters to today’s social media. What really struck me was how she described social media as figuring out “the voice. Who do we want to be and what do we want to sound like.” This is really the essence of social media for any organization.

  3. Nicole Beddia says:


    I always find it interesting to know the background of someone who comes into the museum world. It seems like no two staff members are the same in that aspect! I was impressed when Annelisa was discussing the team effort of social media for the Getty. It’s great that they have several staff members that can rotate responsibilities after hours and weekends rather than going dark. Lastly, her comment regarding a personal yet formal voice was a big takeaway!

  4. Donny Caltrider says:

    Annelisa’s expertise in “words” seems like such an asset to someone who works within the social media sphere- as she said it is integral to the art of storytelling, especially across mediums (read: platforms for social media application). The idea that a tweet can be written well or not-well is very next level thinking, going beyond what an institution is saying and taking into account how they are saying it!

  5. Caroline Rohe says:

    “Going beyond token participation.” I found this statement by Annelisa Stephan to be rather interesting, considering she was talking about how if her site does not have anything really meaningful to give in a #hashtag event then the Getty doesn’t need to participate. Too often museums, or even park service sites, get involved in a social media event and are not able to keep up during the day and end their participation rather lackluster.

  6. Lauren Szady says:

    After listening to many interviews where the interviewee was either one of a few or the only person dealing with social media, it was an interesting dynamic change to listen to Annelisa talk about the staff at the Getty and how they share the responsibilities for the channels so that there is a continual monitoring of the content. It was interesting to hear about the size of the staff working on it compared to her comments about finding “a voice” for the social media interactions. I wonder if it was difficult to try to find that “voice” with several individuals working on it? Can you tell the difference between who is posting/commenting?

  7. Megan Burgess says:

    Annelisa said something in the first few minutes that really made me think: before social media, museums didn’t worry or think about their “voice” so much. I had never considered this before but it’s true. As she said, most museums had brochures and label copy and that’s about it. Those two things can certainly showcase a “voice” but to a much, much smaller extent than social media.

    And posting five times a week on the blog is insanely impressive! They should be very proud of that.

  8. Katie Montecuollo says:

    Jasmin, This interview was really interesting to listen to. The Getty is such a large institution and it can be quite intimidating to reach out to a large institution. By identifying key words that the Getty wants to be about and creating that voice that is approachable and friendly, it makes it much less intimidating, which definitely helps with engagement. A theme that I have noticed among the different interviews is to keep your audience in mind, both in creating content and how they are going to interact with you as an institution.

  9. Melanie Claros Rodriguez says:

    I’m really amazed at the job that Annelisa does at the Getty. I’m really envious of how they’re able to have rotating staff so that the museum’s social media sites don’t have any blackout hours throughout the day. I think that for a museum of this huge scale, this is important and worthwhile because they have fans and potential visitors from all different time zones. It was also eye opening to hear about what they thought of their voice and how much they protect it. I mean, it’s more than just their voice, it’s their brand.

  10. Sabrina Sanders says:

    Writing and storytelling is a solid background for someone who works on social media, it probably allows them to see a holistic view of how to craft the content for an organization. It is important to know that the Getty pondered what their voice on social media should be in the beginning stages. It is a good example for anyone beginning to creating content for an organization Another gem of information Annalisa provides is that people are on social media to achieve their own goals, not the museum’s goals, so keeping this in mind will help drive what kind of content you have.

  11. Jeana Wunderlich says:

    Jasmin – Great formatting for you post! I think listing the questions you asked was very helpful in following along with the interview. The person I interviewed was a one-woman show, so I liked hearing from another professional works with a whole team to produce content. I definitely think that running social media pages can have a danger of burning out, so I liked hearing that Annelisa’s team takes turns making content.

  12. Jason Rusk says:

    It was good to hear that they continue to look at the successes and failures of their social media outlets, specifically the blog. Always analyzing the directions that social media outlets may take in the business world is an important part to keep up with as we know how fast social media can, and does, keep on changing. What works one month might not work the next and it sounds as if she really tries to keep up with the changes, as difficult as it may be.

  13. Craig Hadley says:

    Interesting to contrast a larger institutions approach with a team as well as the time the team takes to discuss their own online identity, or what she called “the voice of the Getty.” I was especially impressed with the group meeting discussing the adjectives they wanted to highlight that would go into crafting the Getty voice, such as “witting” and “knowledgeable” while contrasting others such as wanting to be “informative” but not “authoritative.” This shows a great amount of thought and insight into how to make sure all of their social media platforms speak with one voice and in a voice they have created to make it as approachable and engaging (another two adjectives) as possible. Great interview!

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