We’ll play Captain Obvious for a second and say what’s on many museum workers’ minds: there is no stopping the rapid evolution of the digital world and our marketing strategies need to keep up. We know it can be overwhelming and discouraging at times so today we’re stripping what we know down to three essential practices that will turn your online strategy into a strateGEM.
One of the main roles of a museum is to encourage us to look towards the past and rediscover what once was and maybe is no more. While this might work for an artifact or piece of art, it counters the approach we need to take when marketing a cultural organization.
So, do you want to travel back to the future with us? We’ll show you how to raise awareness around your museum’s brand, grow digital engagement, and attract visitors to your unique collection both in the online and offline realm. Come on, hop in, it’s going to be a fun ride!
Brand Awareness: Prioritize an Eye-Catching Landing Page
Here’s what we know for sure: The Audience Agency’s Digital Audience Survey confirms that as much as 57% of online museum users visit at least once a week. And while 43% of respondents have physically gone to the venue since the COVID-19 lock-down period, they are equally engaged online.
Culture seekers have spoken: museums need to claim their digital space and create a destination for their internet audience – that’s the rooftop to sing from. And once you make the decision to move your activity online (we recommend WordPress or Squarespace platforms), you will need a clear, understandable landing page. But not just any landing page, a killer one! Because first impressions are always the most important and your homepage will, in essence, serve as your digital business card.
To make your audience fall in love with your website at first sight, your landing page needs to be esthetically pleasing and as inviting as possible. Humans are simple creatures and if we like what we see, we’ll stick around longer. Specifically, we suggest putting all the crucial information your audience needs to know on the homepage:
- Who we are
- What we do
- Why we do it
- Where to find us
- How to get in touch
These are the basics, yet it goes without saying that we also need a wow factor. Invest some time and energy into telling your story in an engaging way and highlighting your Unique Selling Point (USP). What makes your museum stand out? What value can you provide for your visitors? A carefully crafted digital story and presence will raise awareness of your brand immensely.
We have a few real-life examples for you. Above on the left, there’s a screenshot of Framework Knitters Museum’s homepage and on the right, we have Penlee House’s landing page. Notice how informative, visually stunning, and story-focused they both are. Here are two more – Crofton Beam Engines’ homepage and West Bay Discovery Centre homepage. Aren’t they lovely? We would definitely feel compelled to keep returning to these websites.
Online Engagement: Make Your Social Media More Social
According to We Are Social, in the UK, the number of Brits using social media has been steadily growing. It’s gone up by 8.7% (to 4.6m users) in the past 12 months. Needless to say, prioritizing solid social media strategies will not harm your business in the slightest. Au contraire, social platforms are the perfect tools to attract more visitors both to your museum and website, growing your audience and creating a community in the process.
If starting from scratch, determine where your audience likes to hang out online and begin building a presence there. No point in investing time and energy into TikTok videos if the people you create them for will never see your efforts.
Next, when coming up with ideas for posts, focus on your niche. Does your museum exhibit WWII photography? Wonderful, add interesting historical facts in the captions et voilà, that’s the start of your Instagram grid right there!
Finally, come up with a social media schedule and stick with it. Consistency is key.
We kick off with St Ives Archive. Although they aren’t a museum per se, they’re a cultural heritage center that has organically grown its audience from 0 to 1,000 followers on Instagram in 10 months. With CBA Content’s director Celeste working there as a volunteer, we know that this has led to greater awareness of the Archive, more engagement and enquiries, in-person visits, and even sales of publications and calendars.
Next up is The Richard Jefferies Museum, a small, community-run organization in Swindon. Curious how they’ve used social media to tell their story? Read about it here. When you, too, become a pro at social media, share your journey with your audience like The Richard Jefferies Museum. Your Twitter account might just grow like theirs have.
Last but not least, the Beamish Museum has grown to have a whopping 172,710 followers on Facebook! They are an open-air destination for all industrial heritage enthusiasts and receive hundreds of thousands of visitors each year (we bet there are even more in their digital sphere).
Dear solution seekers, social media is the place to be. It’s free, it’s not that complicated, and it will pay off, we promise.
Law of Attraction: Create Compelling Website Content
If you make your museum website a valuable resource, your digital tribe will want to explore it with you. And what better way to do that if not with a content hub like a blog. Help your readers dive deeper into a subject, encourage them to stay up to date by signing up to your newsletter, and remember your esthetics – it needs to extend beyond your landing page and be consistent with your brand to visually compel your audience to keep clicking.
Also, do you know what works well and saves you time on social media? Blog posts. Once you begin publishing original, informative content on your website, you’ll have plenty of material to share on your social channels and more reasons for your audience to visit your corner of the internet.
Bodmin Keep, Cornwall’s Army Museum, has a fantastic blog page where you can read war stories and learn about the museum’s artifacts and their history – truly enchanting and educational. Separately, when you visit Horniman Museum and Gardens’ website, hit their News and Stories tab to discover all their fun events happening on site. There are also mood-boosting articles about pets, interviews with artists, and much more – this museum’s content hub is the whole package.
Back to the Future
We hope we haven’t fried the circuits of your time machine by now. Still, the future is coming and we need to be prepared. While physical spaces will always be here to gather culture and heritage enthusiasts under one roof, we cannot (and shouldn’t) ignore the omnipresent shift to digital storytelling.
Research confirms that online engagement accelerates artistic contextualization, grows new audiences and enhances our involvement in creative-led missions. With a solid website and social media presence, your museum’s content will reach an incomparably wider audience who will then help spread the word about you to different corners of our world. Such is the beauty of the modern age. Now it’s time your museum seized the digital day and began using these approaches to the best of its ability. The results will be well worth it.
Where to go from here
Not sure how to take the next step with your digital strategy? Our free Content Marketing Scorecard was designed to help you do just that – identify what you’re doing well and what could use a boost. By answering a set of 16 yes/no questions, you will come away with specific recommendations on how to improve your brand awareness, social media strategy and content offering.
P.s. It takes less than five minutes to fill out and is completely confidential.