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Meghan Deana

I think that at Global Kids' Online Leadership Program the 'share the workload' strategy is also where it's at. It seems, like with any group of people, we each have our own strengths and interests. Some of us are die-hard twitterers, while others are more of the reflective blogging types. We all tend to do what's most natural for us and our personality types - and that way our interaction is most genuine, which I think, even in a digital media, comes through in our interactions. I might add that although it's expected that we get word out about our events and programs via our blog - none of us has the main responsibility of using or researching social networking and media as our main job responsibility. We just do it.

Richard McCoy

Thanks for putting Calder up on your blog, Beth. I think he looks pretty good, but cute is in the eye of the beholder.

Though I agree that the IMA is doing a good job using social media to try and engage its audience (and lots of other museums are too), a few big questions always rattle around my head: does it really matter? Are people really interested in engaging with museums?

Personally, I think it does matter and that this sort of work is about the coolest thing going, this engaging others in what we are doing at the museum, this asking for help, being open, and getting folks participate in some way. I think it's cool because it's about art, not say selling Coca Cola or Cadillacs. While the IMA houses some 50,000 works of art, I believe that these works belong to everyone as part of the world's cultural property. So I believe that everyone should feel some kind of “ownership” of this property. Art is about us, so we all should care.

But do we all care and want to participate? I do, but I’ve been working at institutions or in graduate school for more than 10 years now.

With something as new as this it’s hard to know what successful participation is. I think it’s hard to say and hard to measure; and I think this kind of shift in participation is just starting so we may not really know for a while.

Maybe it’s just that I’m bummed because after about a week no one has figured out who carved the sculpture that I wrote about last week. I thought for sure someone in the world would write in the comment section that they have one just like it and it was made by so and so. Ha, ha!

Ah, well.


Beth Kanter

Richard:

I'm curious how your organization has gotten many staff members, curators, etc to participate in your social media strategy? Was there resistance? How do did you educate?

I'm talking the internal culture? How has the implementation of a social media strategy changed the culture of your museum - inside?

BTW, it takes time before you build up an active conversation in the comments of your blog. Sometimes shorter posts that end with questions may work. Chris Brogan did an expert session with NTEN yesterday and this topic came up.

He posted some great links
http://www.chrisbrogan.com/nten-rock/

Daniel

Hi Beth:

We launched this new blog at the beginning of this year. Prior to that, we had done a lot of work with technology – videos, audio guides, web projects and more. All of these projects included staff from a variety of internal departments, so in many ways, the IMA was already used to technology being part of the internal culture. It also helps that our Director is extremely supportive of our technology projects. So far we’ve met very little resistance to any of the blog posts or soliciting blog authors. The Blog team (a cross-departmental group) does a great job of communicating with other departments.

When thinking about a new blog design, we knew that we wanted to post often and offer a variety of different content voices. We identified staff bloggers and started off with a fairly small group – mainly so we could manage the overall process. Since then we have slowly added authors from different departments, because we want as much of the museum represented as possible. We are also working on featuring ‘guest bloggers’ – non-IMA authors from a variety of backgrounds.

In terms of managing this process, Despi Mayes in the New Media department works directly with IMA bloggers and handles all of their posts, images, tags, etc… It is our goal to make blogging as easy as possible for our colleagues and allow them to focus entirely on their content.

It's still early days, but I think everyone is very happy with the blog so far.

Hope this helps!

Beth Kanter

Daniel:

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.

So, tell me, what are some of your learnings in managing a group blog for a nonprofit organization? Your insight about starting small is great. What else? Do you have a schedule/calendar? How do you manage your editorial schedule? Writing for conversation is one part of the blogging process, but community is another. Do staff bloggers routinely comment on other blogs?

I'm curious has anything happened on your blog - perhaps in the comments - that surprised you? Finally, does the blog help inform or enhance the visitor experience and if so, what evidence do you have about this?

This is fun - a veritable cafe chat with IMA staffers/bloggers here in the comments.

ersin

you are very sensitive. thx.

Daniel

Here goes...

We have a lot freedom to use our own voice and experiment with new ideas on the blog, so we have definitely learned to be appreciative of institutional support. Blog content needs to be honest, flexible and at times willing to take risks. This could not happen without internal support. We also looked at a lot of museum blogs before launch and spent lots of time talking with Shelley Bernstein at Brooklyn Museum. It always pays to look around you.

Yes, we keep a calendar and rotation of bloggers. We try to post at least every day. Bloggers are aware of their days/dates, but it always comes down to Despi posting.

We obviously proof every post, but rarely make any changes. When we do, it is usually related to spelling or grammar. It always comes down to an individual’s voice.

Our comments are a good mixture of staff and non-staff. I am still surprised by what posts get comments and which ones don't. The blog is fairly young, so perhaps this will change.

I feel like the blog definitely enhances the visitor experience. Our main goal is to provide visitors with a behind-the-scenes look into the operations of an art museum. Blogging is the perfect platform for this, as well as hearing directly from an IMA employee. In terms of evidence to support this – I think we are still gathering, but we are aware that our blog visits and comments have steadily increased since the launch.

Richard

Here’s a kind of lengthy commentary, one that partially answers the topics at hand and also covers some new ground.

There was a real transition going from a private employee of the IMA – one that barely sees the light of day – to one that represents the institution to the public by blogging. This can be an eye-opening experience to suddenly be “out there,” when previously you worked in a somewhat secluded environment. I was taken a bit by surprise when after a few posts I was talking to people in different countries about what I had blogged.

The thing is, most people don’t blog about their work; they blog at home about things unrelated to their work: secret obsessions, music reviews, beer making, you know this sort of thing. When blogging at home you can practically say and do whatever you want to the blog. But we're in a different world here. There’s more at stake when blogging about work.

When I first agreed to write for the IMA, I said I thought a true test of this blog’s success would be if I got fired or given a raise. I doubt either will happen to me (but I can hope for the raise, can’t I?). But my thought was that in order for the IMA Blog to be good everyone has to be willing to let it hang out in the wind a bit. To take the risks that Daniel mentioned.

I think that the IMA has done a good job in letting its bloggers take ownership of what they are doing, to let them run their own show. This isn’t an easy thing here because the IMA is a really dynamic institution, with a museum, historic house, historic landscape, and soon an art and nature park all in one spot. That’s a lot of different stuff going on and each person is going to have a different angle, perspective, and even a goal that they are trying to accomplish.

I think it is very important for each writer to be in charge of what they are doing and have a kind of goal for what they are doing. Even if that goal is to just be fun and light hearted about what they are working on here or what they think about “art.”

I see some real potential for the use of social media in my profession of conservation. I know that there are some projects in the works that are sponsored by some of the professional associations that are making use of social media. Conservators are constantly sharing very specific information amongst themselves and I think we are beginning to realize in what way it can benefit us as a group, how it can allow us to pool and share our information, resources, and experiences. This sharing will make us better at what we do.

So that’s one of my goals of participating in the blog, to begin engaging folks about what I do and sharing what I’m doing, and also to experiment a bit with social media. Personally, I think this also enhances the visitor’s experience, to let them understand more about the art that is on display, and to see what kind of life it lives here.

Obviously there are a lot of other reasons people to write for the blog and these relate directly to their role at the IMA. I haven’t really thought about what the potential is for the departments upstairs in marketing or development, for example.

Irvin

Beth, I was alerted to the fact you have my blog on "Simply Halston" linked to the word "curator". I am not a curator. I do mention our curator of Textile and Fashion Arts, Niloo Imami-Paydar, in that post and perhaps that is where the confusion lies. I am the Horticultural Display Coordinator at the IMA and normally write plant related entries but was asked to do an opinion piece on the show. Thanks for the plug for the IMA blog.

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