Afua Anokwa, Marketing Communications Manager, The International Spy Museum

(Please disregard from 19:00 to 23:40 due to a power outage in my area. The interview resumes at 23:40)

Afua Anokwa (Agent Double A) has been the Marketing Communications Manager at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC since 2012 and is responsible for all internal communications, eBlasts, partnership coordination, and, since 2014, the Spy Museum’s social media accounts.

Social Media Growth

Since the incorporation of social media management into her position, Afua has been able to dramatically grow the reach and presence of the Spy Museum’s social media channels. What used to be segmented into three separate entities on social media- Spy Museum (proper), Spy Museum Education, and The Spy Store, was brought for the most part under one banner, with Spy Education retaining some of its own pages. Facebook went from biweekly postings and 3000 likes to over 30,000 likes with daily postings, from Today in Spy History to upcoming event information. Similar trends were seen on YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, and she attributes this rise to having a clear strategy, a singular voice, and account consolidation to improve customer service and interaction. Different channels are used for different departments, such as Pinterest being the main home for everything Spy Store related, but she manages everything Spy Social.

Social Media Function

Because up until recently the Spy Museum was a for-profit institution, most of their social media posts were either to push their programming (“put butts in seats”) or for general education about their collection or spy history with the main being to “extend the experience”, either through encouraging additional visitation or reinforcing current museum initiatives. Afua noted that Facebook is the main forum for publicizing their robust programming schedule and also the channel that elicits the most interaction and engagement. Outside of programming she strives to co-mingle educational label copy with fun and popular culture for a seamless transfer to a digital platform. Social media has also functioned as a customer service responder, allowing the museum to handle questions through Facebook messages, Twitter questions, and even Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews.

The Trojan Horse Project (#givethehorsepower)

A new frontier for the Spy Museum in the realm of social media is the combination with the newly created development department as a part of their transition to a 501(c)(3) organization for their new location opening 2018. Their new Indiegogo campaign launched on 10/3/2016 (–2#/backers) and is now a part of their “pay-to-play” social media budget with promoted posts hitting Facebook starting 10/15/12016 at approximately $1000/week. The goal is to raise $575,000 for the construction of the horse and an additional $1.675m for a documentary among other project pieces. It is early in the process but the campaign, with the help of social media, has promise.

Moving Forward & Advice

The Spy Museum will be going “dark” during their move to their new location, and this will require a separate and unique strategy. Afua intends to maintain a “constant drumbeat” of building and maintain hype for the new location while highlighting “Last Chance” opportunities for visitors at the old location. Behind the Scenes coverage of the move, a SpyCam set up at the new location, and exploration into new channels such as SnapChat will all play into this preliminary 3-month plan.

Her best advice for aspiring social media manager is to “Put your hand on the pulse of what (your followers) want” and to use all of your resources, from insights and analytics about exactly who is following you to effective “pay-to-play” promotions to maximize reach,

The Spy Museum can be followed on social media at any of the links on the bottom of their homepage:

All quotes and information taken during a phone interview: (A. Anokwa, personal communication, October 13, 2016).


  1. Kristen Peterson says:

    Donny: Afua uses social media as a customer service responder: that’s brave! During their move, are they actually going dark, or posting unique messages about the move? Hopefully not going dark — there are so many opportunities to infer suspense (no pun intended…ok, I did intend!) leading up to the big opening in the new space.

    1. Donny Caltrider says:

      The museum will be going dark but social media will be very much alive and really the beacon of communication during this time. You are exactly right- there will be a considerable amount of punny and cliche strategy that goes into this content and it should prove to be quite exciting!

      1. Kristen Peterson says:

        Donny: This will be fun to follow — I’ll find them on Twitter!

  2. Rachel Rabinowitz says:

    It was interesting to hear how Afua had to deal with so many different social media accounts when she first came to work at the Spy Museum (which is similar to my interview with Jennifer Lyon). Although it may seem that less is better for one person to manage, sometimes an organization needs more than one account on a platform. It is great that the educators at the Spy Museum have been able to use social media to reach out to their audience to engage this specific audience. Knowing your organization and its needs is key to success.

    1. Donny Caltrider says:

      I agree- you have to recognize where your institutional goals lie and what that means. Because education is such a large part of what Spy does, this account has survived the consolidation and continues to be a solid resource.

  3. Nicole Beddia says:


    I’m glad you were able to discuss a specific project on social media, especially one that has a fundraising goal in mind. I continue to be fascinated by the Trojan horse project from the development to hearing about the $575,000 fundraising goal. I didn’t realize until the Smithsonian’s recent fundraising post for Dorothy’s shoes that this was a possible method. I will be interested to see at the end of the project how much money came from social media avenues.

    1. Donny Caltrider says:

      The project is off to a slow start but I have faith they will gain some traction (maybe even with help from my strategy project in this class!). I am waiting to hear back on whether or not they have determined precisely which donations were generated from social media- this will be extremely valuable information moving forward.

  4. Caroline Rohe says:

    It’s wild to think that by adding more post throughout the week that follower numbers would go up. Then again with more post being made the more people these post reach. I’ve had the opposite response at times, with more postings scaring away followers. Nevertheless, 3,000 to 30,000 followers is a decent amount with those changes being made.

    1. Donny Caltrider says:

      I think it was essentially a snowball effect- more people saw and liked and shared and that kept the ball rolling, where a single post a week just never had a chance to gain momentum.

  5. Jasmin Mitchell says:

    Afua works at an awesome museum! I love how part of her content strategy is giving visitors a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of the museum. I think that, that would be a great way to increase visitors onsite as well.

    1. Donny Caltrider says:

      The “behind the scenes” posts will become a larger part of the strategy moving towards and into the museum move. It has great implications for making “for spy eyes only” as well as temporary “top secret” Snapchat content of both the current collection and the new location under construction.

  6. Lauren Szady says:

    I think it’s interesting that Afua is calling the move “going dark” on social media when in fact it seems to be doing the exact– as you describe in your post, with “last chance,” a live camera feed and coverage of the move. Much like Kristen mentioned earlier– this seems like a fantastic opportunity for the museum to do more behind-the-scenes type posts (that they already seem fond of!). I guess I’m a little confused– are they just “going dark” in terms of what their traditional posting is? Or just using that term because things will be changing at such a fast pace that they can’t guarantee regular posting?

    1. Donny Caltrider says:

      Sorry for the confusion- their social media will not be going dark at all, only the physical location of the museum (at least this is how I understand it). As far as I know, posting will actually increase as this will be the main way they communicate with their audience and visitors. I should know more soon as the strategy is currently under development!

  7. Megan Burgess says:

    What a great interview, even with the power outage in the middle! Kudos to Afua for actually answering customer service questions on social media! So many times it feels like those questions never even get looked at, let alone answered. More and more, people see social media as a way to get information, especially when they can’t find it on the website, don’t want to look on the website, or their question doesn’t warrant an email.

    1. Donny Caltrider says:

      Thanks Megan! I couldn’t believe the power outage- three weeks to schedule the interview and then that- well laid plans I suppose. I definitely think it brave to tackle a glut of customer service issues online but am glad that this is something they do. You are absolutely right, so many times these things go ignored and nothing ever good comes of it!

  8. Katie Montecuollo says:

    Donny, I would agree that it is important to develop your own voice. It seems that Afua’s experience highlights the importance of having a content strategy that we talked about last week. Each of the different platforms that she describes may be reaching to different groups, but each of the different platforms work together and “fit into the larger story you are telling” (Miller, 2012, pg. 1).

    1. Donny Caltrider says:

      I absolutely agree Katie- she consolidated but segmented in one fell stroke and it seems to have made all the difference in creating the “larger story” of their social media strategy

  9. Sabrina Sanders says:

    Wow- it was smart that Afua consolidated all the various splintered social media platforms being run by the different department at the museum. It was interesting to hear how they break out the content for each platform: history for FB, Youtube for programming, Pinterest for the store. I think a for-profit museum could easily get caught up in utilizing social media in a traditional marketing fashion, so it was good to hear that she considers social media as an extension of the museum experience and not just a sales driver.

    1. Donny Caltrider says:

      I love the idea of the segmented approach as the Great Chain of Being- a place for everything and everything in its place. They all seem to work together under the overarching strategy just like a well-oiled machine!

  10. Melanie Claros Rodriguez says:

    First off, Afua has an really cool job! I was a little jealous of how much fun her job seems to give, especially with the subject of her museum. I also liked how they use the public’s curiousity to create great content on their social media pages. For example, who doesn’t want to see what happens behind the scenes at the museum? Overall, Afua is very talented at her job and she’s using all social media platforms to make a visitors experience even better.

    1. Donny Caltrider says:

      I got to meet her and some of the awesome staff at Spy as I have been working on this project and it does seem like every day there is just a blast. I think the idea of curiosity will continue to be a big component of upcoming campaigns- its the foundation of their espionage discussions and should translate very well.

  11. Jeana Wunderlich says:

    It’s amazing that Afua handles so much social media content by herself! I loved that she went to Twitter to try to figure out why your power went out, Donny. I think that shows exactly how someone in her position thinks – Twitter is a wealth of information available at your fingertips!

    1. Donny Caltrider says:

      She definitely has her plate full- I would guess that when the museum moves to the new location they will need to add either a sole Social Media person or at least someone to help share Communication Manager responsibilities.

  12. Jason Rusk says:

    I like the fact that she has a calendar for posts. She mentions e-blasts each Monday and also says her goal is to get people into the museum through social media. Social media is a powerful tool no doubt, but I wonder how powerful it can be when trying to keep pumping life into a museum that relies on visitors to remain successful.

  13. Craig Hadley says:

    Interesting in her approach and view that their social media is an extension of the museum experience, which I whole-heatedly agree with. I find it interesting that she keeps saying they are the “Authority” on the history of spy craft. I wonder if the CIA or NSA or MI6 or other intelligence agencies would have anything to say about that? It is interesting how they are folding their sales and fundraising into their social media.

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