Monday, July 21, 2008

Social Media and the Science Museum

Friday morning, I had the pleasure of meeting with a small group of people from the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, made up of the marketing, development, membership, and Web site brain trust for the museum. I was invited by a PRSA colleague to discuss with her and her team about the opportunities for integrating social media in their capital campaign. (Photo:

I was told that most of them had previously viewed the online version of the presentation that Terry Morawski and I had given to GFW PRSA, so I was pretty nervous for expectations that they may have had.

We had a great discussion and what was the first of hopefully many meetings as they embark in what will no doubt be a shift in communication, marketing, and development philosophies. I received permission to blog our progress as a case study on social media dynamics. (Full disclosure: I will also received a free membership for my family to the museum of which I am even more excited. I love science museums!)

What's in place
The group seemed to have a grasp on many social media tools and only stopped the discussion a few times to ask questions about the types of SM technologies. The Museum currently has implemented some solid communication offerings and has dabbled in social media. To name a few:

First Steps

It was apparent from our discussion that many in the group were interested in how they could inject the 'give to the capital campaign' message into as many things as possible. I told them I was familiar with fundraising and understood the development mindset of asking for funds at every turn. The problem I have with this as it relates to SM is that you could try too hard in the asking for money and hurt your image with the community.

I think we steered the conversation to a more general overview of what is possible with a little bit of work and some dedicated time. We agreed on some initial steps to get them going in the right direction:

  • E-mail - They are going to start using Constant Contact for their e-mail marketing campaigns. (I am a huge proponent of CC and have been a user for a while in other capacities.) This step really doesn't fall within the typical SM tool belt, but I think using an e-newsletter with user tracking for feedback has some great benefits for this organization. Plus, it will be easier for them to implement than their current newsletter;

  • Social Networking - Next, the group is going to setup a Facebook profile. This seemed obvious since they already have a MySpace profile; and 

  • Blogging - The most intriguing (to me) of steps for the group is a museum blog or blogs. I showed them samples and we discussed how this could be managed whether it's one blog with multiple authors or multiple single-author blogs. 

My hope is that they can look beyond the fundraising elements and concentrate on the bigger picture of using  social media tools to improve community relations. Let the 'Give to the FW Museum' messaging be subtle and I believe they will have greater success.

The biggest obstacle this group is going to have is the initial shock of how much time using social media technologies can take. A few people asked aloud how they were going to have any time for this stuff. My answer to them (and anyone else with this issue) is this: How can you not have time to work on things for your organization that could potentially energize your community, impress your stakeholders, and inspire your staff? 

There is more to come. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this. Are we taking good initial steps?

1 comment:

Lauren Vargas said...

Great initiative! Awesome to see the different ways our community is engaging. Good Luck!