Connecting with Facebook groups to share a Facebook page’s content is transforming the reach and audience of one museum’s online presence Francesca Cox explains.
Like many people working in small museum, somehow I’ve ended up as the ‘social media person’ by default and it has just ended up being added to my growing to-do list.
I had no real clue what I was doing but threw stuff out there regardless. Some of it stuck, much of it didn’t. It felt like an uphill battle that we weren’t winning.
Then came lockdown and we had to close our doors. It was scary. What could we offer our public? What could we offer them to let them know we were still there and had something to offer them? That part of the job that I couldn’t have felt less confident in was suddenly our lifeline.
So I sat at home making content. Doing step-by-step crafts for families locked inside with little to do using stuff they might have to hand. It was tough to start with. We didn’t have that many followers and the Facebook algorithms were a real problem.
The success was encouraging but when I experimented with other types of content that I thought would appeal to our older visitors, our fabulous archive of historic photographs, the result was tumbleweed.
I was ready to throw in the towel and just accept that there was just no on-line audience for that type of thing.
Then the opportunity came along for some actual training and I grabbed it with both hands. I had no idea if it would help but figured it was all good experience. The Essential Comms Skills Booster sessions run by Dan Slee were hugely informative and very enjoyable and it was really interesting to exchange experiences with trained comms people who were struggling with their own social media issues in lockdown.
But we’ve all been to training sessions where we’ve been fired up in the moment but weeks later it’s all fizzled away. But some of the ideas were so do-able that I took the plunge and put them into practice.
For me the hallelujah moment has been his advice to share content to Facebook groups. I started tentatively at first, sharing the museum’s content with a group I’d long been a member of. Straight away the results were obvious and the reach went up by 91 per cent. Buoyed by this, I looked for other groups and picked out a couple that might hit a different target audience and found a couple that were based around sharing photographs of the area.
I shared some more of our lovely photographs that before had sunk without trace. The result was quite frankly astonishing. Not only in the sheer numbers of people that we were reaching but in the reactions. Hundreds of likes, hundreds of comments – real interactions with the public that museums dream of and a dramatic increase in followers
People were sharing their stories, catching up with people they’d lost touch with and sharing their own photographs.
Four posts reached over 42,000 people compared to four similar posts that managed a very dispiriting 1,835 in total – a rise of over 2,000 per cent.
As we come to the end of a full covid year, our total reach is up over 1,000 per cent on the previous year and I couldn’t be more pleased. This terrible year has counted for something. I feel so much more confident that the museum has something to build on. So, does this expert stuff work? You’re damn right it does.
Francesca Cox is Assistant Curator at Walsall Leather Museum.