Dr. Lynda Kelley
I'm here in Sydney, Australia and just finished an informal workshop and discussion with Powerhouse Museum staff and other museums. (Will post reflections shortly) I met Dr. Lynda Kelly, a blogger and the Head of Audience Research for the Australia Museum. She also just set up a social networking site on Ning where museum professionals are discussing the future of museums in a Web 2.0 world. The site is called Museum 3.0.
Many nonprofits are grappling with questions about where to find reliable information about the merits of different tools for a given objective. The key is understanding your audience and their online social activities. The short answer: ask them, do research. During the meeting, she shared some insights from a recently published research study she conducted on the social activities and technographics of people in Australia.
1. Tell me about your research?
We took Forrester's technographics research model and adapted it for Australia, surveying over 2,000 people from Australia. We asked simple questions about their online activities. Other questions were about museum attendance. We compared the findings between non-museum and museum goers. Some key findings: People who visit museums and galleries are engaging in social media and more so than people who don't. The two things they do more than other activities are to post reviews and rate their experiences. They are mostly looking for word of mouth recommendations. (A paper based on the research findings can be found here)
Our research also focused on young adults and their web behavior. We recruited people based on the Forrester online social activity categories and interviewed them about their online participation.
I've done many studies on Web 2.0 activities of visitors, particularly with school students. We are trying to understand what young people are doing online and the implications for exhibit design and marketing. We invited these young people into the museum back of house and asked them for input on how we should represent the museum on the social web. The young people said they wanted a physical experience of interacting with the objects - no screens in the museum. They told us, "We can all the computers and screens at home - we want something we can't get at home - the objects and interacting with people in the physical space."
We brought in a small group of young people and interviewed them about their experience. The telling quote was: "We'll go home and google the answers. We want to be here and look at the museum with our friends." I'm sharing the research notes on the Museum 3.0 site.
2. Can you tell me more about your Museum 3.0 site?
Facebook is interesting to have discussion with peers, but difficult. Many of my peers don't want to "come out on Facebook." (That is let people from work know who their friends are) When someone showed me Ning, I thought it was great to try for a community of practice because it is about the network and a good way to introduce people who are new to social media and give it go. It's much better than sending me an email and having 6 people responding. I've been inviting people at the beginning, but now more and more people are joining.
3. What advice would you offer to other museums and nonprofits who want introduce web2.0 strategies into their programs or marketing?
They have to jump in and start experimenting. There was a great quote. Museums are great at touring exhibitions, but we're not good at touring the web. Go to the people where they are and give it a go.
You've got to have a champion in the organization who can help you get on with it. Have a supportive director is important. We've got to stop saying "no" and say "yes, if." We're moving from No to Yes, If.
We're trying to make that change in the organization now - we're using a private ning site to follow up with a strategic plan. We've had Facebook Fridays - get people in the museum to sign up and we help them. You have to reserve space to let people ask questions like "What is RSS?"