The person that I interviewed for my guests expert interview was Helen Wahle. After graduating with a journalism degree from Indiana University, Helen served as the social media intern for several non-profits. She eventually was hired by the Museum of Tolerance as their Social Media Manager, helping to build their social media platform. She would then transition to the “profit” world, becoming the Digital Strategist for Westridge Outdoors. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/helen-wahle-a75a0a54?authType=OUT_OF_NETWORK&authToken=VIb6&locale=en_US&srchid=2669267121476663002151&srchindex=1&srchtotal=319543&trk=vsrp_people_res_name&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A2669267121476663002151%2CVSRPtargetId%3A193610105%2CVSRPcmpt%3Aprimary%2CVSRPnm%3Atrue%2CauthType%3AOUT_OF_NETWORK). In this interview we focused on how to best engage the audience and some best practices to use. We started off by talking about the platforms that the Museum of Tolerance currently utilizes. Primarily they focus on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest as these were the platforms that their audiences primarily use.
For Instagram, this was primarily used to “connect objects with people, places, purpose” (Morrissey and Worts, 1998 pg. 159), primarily the different objects in the exhibit. One of the main projects that she worked on while at the Museum of Tolerance was an Instameet for the new Anne Frank exhibit. The Anne Frank is “a visually stunning space just begging to be photographed” (Blasco, 2016, pg. 1). Using the hashtag #emptymot (https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/emptymot/), well known Instagramers in the Los Angeles area were invited into the exhibit. They were invited to take pictures of the different artifacts in the exhibit and post them to their Instagram. This helped to generate positive interest in both the Museum as a whole and the specific exhibit.
Facebook, in an effort to “connect people with people” (Morrissey and Worts, 1998, pg. 160), to post articles about events occurring at the museum and articles related to the topics addressed by the museum. Since the topics presented at the Museum are challenging and difficult to digest due to the issues in human rights that they present, the articles posted focused on positive, uplifting and inspirational stories about human rights. Pinterest, in an attempt to, as Morrissey and Worts (1998) state, “connecting people to resources” (pg. 161) has different resources that teachers can use. She talked about how she picked which platforms to use. Her advice, like Bohan (2013) stated, was to “Determine where your audience (and future audience) is most likely to interact with you” (pg. 1). She initially tested the different platforms and found these three were the best to focus on.
We then transitioned into coordination with other departments within the museum. As the Museum of Tolerance is a small institution, Helen was often the primary contact for facilitating the social media content. When she initially entered into the museum, she did encounter some challenges in convincing the other departments in the value of posting content, events, etc. on the social media platforms. However, as she continued to build relationships with these other departments, they began to see the value in it. By taking the time to build the relationship with her colleagues, as was stressed in the Visser (2013) reading, she was able to gain more autonomy and trust with her colleagues.
Lastly, we focused on the differences between the “for profit” realm and the “non-profit” realm. The main importance that non-profits, especially museums, can learn from the “for-profit” realm is to be creative with how they use social media. It is important remain educational, but also to be fun and engaging to your audience. While educational posts can be interesting, if they are not visually engaging, many visitors will pass them by.
I found my conversation with Helen to by very insightful and useful as we proceed with developing social media content for the institutions we work for. Hope you enjoy.
Blasco, E. (2016) Best practices for live social media events that engage museum audiences: The Twitter Q&A. https://medium.com/@erinblasco/bestpracticesforlivesocialmediaeventstha tengagemuseumaudiencesthetwitterqa5dabad3f312c#.2x52zxldo
Bohan, A. (2013). Marketing Your Arts Organization on Social Media: 7 ThoughtStarters for Creating an Effective Strategy. http://artsmarketing.org/node/1725 4.
Morrissey, K., and Worts, D. (1998). A place for the muses? Negotiating the role of technology in museums. In S. Thomas and A. Mintz (Eds.), The virtual and the real: Media in the museum (pp. 147171). Washington, D.C.: American Association of Museums.
Visser, J., & Richardson, J. (2013). Digital Engagement in Culture, Heritage, and the Arts. http://digitalengagementframework.com/digenfra3/wpcontent/uploads/2016/0 2/Digital_engagement_in_culture_heritage_and_the_arts.pdf 5.