Speaking with W. Ryan Dodge was an inspirational experience. His passion for engaging communities through meaning-filled interaction is evident and contagious! In this interview, we focused on some key areas including the importance of user generated content, social media strategy and increasing digital capacity throughout the museum. Mr. Dodge is also the Digital Content and Community Manager for the Museum Computer Network and he briefly touched on the exciting direction this year’s conference is taking. Stewardship and relevance were the core themes in our conversation. We spoke about how to connect people through digital engagement, finding what works in the physical museum space, and translating that to create meaningful experiences. Ryan is committed to developing “long-term relationship(s)” with the community through dialogue and by observation of what impacts their lives in relation to current events, museum programming and exhibits. His projects have encouraged users to contribute and by doing this, it validates their input and demonstrates the museum’s interest in their voices.
We discussed how designing relevant content across platforms that speak to what truly matters requires an understanding of your audience and respect for their time. With so much information on the web, the best practice to approaching a comprehensive strategy to attract and keep people involved is by producing original and thought-provoking digital content. Ryan pioneered the training of experts at ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) to increase their digital involvement by demonstrating the reach that sharing their expertise could have. By using analytics to track user involvement, museum professionals were shown how their unique knowledge base in their respective fields could enhance the educational experience. Revisiting the concept of making museums relevant is fundamentally important in constructing an online presence and increasing user participation. In this constantly evolving space, Ryan stresses that recognition and acknowledgment of the value that people in the community contribute to a museum is paramount to achieving the type of partnership that can lead to greater learning and contemplation. This enlightened approach to digital engagement provides a rich soil that can water the seeds of possibility and nurture the growth of unlimited potential for future generations to come.
Click below to hear the full interview with Ryan and benefit from his engagement expertise: