6.5 Million Stories: The Royal Ontario Museum Online


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PodCamp Toronto 2012
Talking about the what the Royal Ontario Museum is doing as it moves further online: social media, content management, mobile strategy, augmented reality, and more.

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  • Today I’m going to be talking about:The social media we’re usingThe team behind those mediaOur content management strategyHow we support ROM staff in the use of these media and in developing new contentSome of the innovative technologies we’re in the process of rolling outWhat’s coming next
  • Canada’s largest museum, founded in 1912. The first building went up in 1914.Celebrating our 100th anniversary.About 1 million visitors per year.33 galleries.Hundreds of staff.Hundreds of volunteers.Millions of online visits each year.Approximately 6.5 million objects in our collectionsHow do you tell 6.5 million stories?Because that’s the most important thing – storytelling, curation, content marketing, whatever you call itMy job is to get the heck out of the way and let the storytellers do their thing
  • Set up an online teamOpen invite to anyone in the museum who is interested in, not only social media, but online communications broadly speaking.Meet monthly for a tech deep dive (more on that later) and a round-table check-in so that everyone can find out what the other areas in the museum are working on, whether online or off. This gives us a chance to see if there’s an opportunity to leverage offline research or work that’s being done elsewhere in the museum through an online forum, such as through the blog or Facebook, in order to promote our work and the museum.It also lets us know what everyone else is doing online, so we’re all in the know, to make sure we’re not duplicating effort, stepping on toes, etc.Our vision is to:Build momentum and support for online mediaEducate and inform ourselves as a group about online media in a collaborative non-hierarchical wayGrow participation in these media across the museum.Collaborate and coordinate efforts across the various parts of the museum.Set up a steering group for this teamSome people stepped up, based on their enthusiasm and involvement in the medium, and self-organized.Meet every two to four weeks to coordinate efforts, plan new online communications.
  • Facebook is the platform of choice for organizing ourselvesWe originally went with pbwiki, in order to collaborate on documents, share information, etc.But we found even an accessible wiki like pbwiki represents a barrier to entry for some people.Facebook works as an internal platform for sharing information and research about social media & online communications, and to let people know what new initiatives you’re working on.It’s used extensively for sharing links to news and research in the online world.Letting everyone else know what you’re working on (hopefully) avoids duplication and stepping on toesAlso avoids having people starting new channels without checking with the rest of the group. It also helps us ensure (hopefully) that no opportunities to promote the museum and its work are ‘left on the table.’
  • Also created the Toronto Museums & Culture Online Collective53-member group of online museum & gallery professionals from across southern Ontario. Meet every month or two to network and share information.This is a way for museum & culture tech professionals to share information and build a community that can support each other.Next meeting will be at Ryerson’s DMZ, to get presentations about what their online entrepreneurs are doing.
  • Current Facebook properties:ROMROM Library & ArchivesICC
  • Quick poll: how many Twitter accounts does your organization have?
  • We have 21 (or close to it – a couple are inactive and one actually isn’t ours)Our approachDifferentiated audience + differentiated message = unique account.If only one or none of these conditions exists, send messages through the main ROM account to start. Then you can graduate to a dedicated account when and if conditions permit.In fact, start with the main ROM account, regardless as a best practice.
  • blog.rom.on.caFormerly, the museum had its own Library & Archives blog, which is now part of the main blog.A lot of research ends up here. A lot of promotions as well.This has been a real success story for the ROM: it’s gotten to the point where we’re getting enough content that we may need to split the blog into two at some point in the forseeable future.
  • Downloadable toursAccessibility podcastsLectures & eventsOtherCan play directly from the website in a Flash player, or download as MP3s
  • Serializing video (and blogs) is something new for usAlberta project: “Summerasaurus.” Took an iPad and went down to southern Alberta with Dr. David Evans to shoot a dino dig.Very low-fi approach, which is a departure for the museum, but gives it a real gritty, immediate, first-person flavour.Very easy to do, too – ‘point & shoot’. Cheap, fast and simple. Cut the movies on the flight home using iMovie & exported directly to YouTube.Other ROM video properties:Iconic objectsOut of the vaultsBackstage pass
  • AppMobile-enabled website.Moving away from apps. Mobile web allows you to create content once, and publish it in many ways.I’d recommend anyone do the same, unless you have a specific game layer in mind, or you really need access to the compass, GPS, accelerometer or camera.
  • Twitter Q&A with David EvansTweet-up by Amanda Fruci for the Hockney exhibitionTwitter wall in CurrellyFacebook photo galleriesBlog & video serializationFlickr: we have a group of enthusiasts that self-organized, and a ROM account I uploaded some Alberta photos toVirtual Museum of Canada: Burgess Shale exhbition.Foursquare
  • Just dipping our toes in: a series of 360 panoramas stitched together with hot spots for navigation, for various galleries.But it’s an important first step: allows people to get a sense of what the galleries are like before visiting, and allows visitors who may not otherwise get a chance, to experience the museum in some way.
  • Interactive geo-located scavenger hunt.Received a grant form SCVNGR in the US to run 25 free ‘treks’.First one was on Family Day: Burton & Isabelle Pipistrelle. It was a prototype and time-limited (lasted 3 hours)Running “around the world” trek during March Break. Will be much longer time span with more points on the trek.
  • A new medium which is driving more referral traffic than YouTube, Google Plus and LinkedIn combined. And it’s poised to overtake Twitter in this area.PublicisitsAmanda Fruci & myself set up boards.Gotten a few likes / re-pins / commentsSFMOMA has really embraced this
  • Google maps interface to geo-locate tree species in Toronto. Working with a partner, who’s handling the geo-location side of things.Looking to bring this technology to other of our properties, so that people dynamically pin species and other things in real time. Perhaps users will be able to pin fauna & flora they find in Ontario.
  • Working on a new app with Kensington Communcations, the producers of the “Museum Secrets” tv series that featured the ROM.Interact with objects through a game layerCould be a variety of interactions – perhaps a user will be able to take a virtual x-ray of an object or something similarTake you through the museum and allow you to interact with objects in a whole new way using that game layer
  • Dino exhibiton: in-gallery augmented reality & out of home placements.Starts June 23Based on the ability to interact with specific dinosaurs visually throughiPad interfacesInteractive multi-player ‘game’ wall as well
  • Haptic interfaces based on Xbox KinectCan interact with a video ‘wall’ that shows a scene – your proximity and motions will affect what happens on the wall.
  • Working with the Wikimedia foundation to try to coordinate an event with Wikipedians at our museum.Behind-the-scenes tour.Wikipedians get to see exclusive behind-the-scenes content at our museum, and in return, these expert content-creators produce content for the world’s 6th most popular websiteWe get awareness, referral traffic, content and more.We learned about the ROI of this from Xerxes Mazda at the British Museum.There is no cannibalization of content. Adding content online via objects, wikipedia, and other platforms does not dissuade people from visiting the museum.
  • If you’re sitting there sharing your experience online, why not help the ROM promote itself in the process?Pilot to see what kind of response we get, what works, what doesn’t. People sitting in these areas are all over their cell phones.Give people specific prompts on tent cards in waiting areas such as this, to share their experience online through Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.If successful, it could be applied in other areas such as front of house
  • Looking at ways to putt ROM Magazine and our publications in a format that’s friendly for e-readers, iPads and so on.
  • Deep dives15-20 minutes at the start of each online team meeting.Previously we’ve talked about Facebook success, the SCVNGR platform, Twitter, online collaborative tools, and so on.Platformation, Positive Fabulous Women’s network, and so on.Next meeting I’m going to be doing a deep dive on Google Analytics.Tech ThursdaysCasual drop-in session for people curious about technology.Creates a safe space to experiment, ask questions and learn about the possibilities of mobile devices, social media and more.Play with an iPad, try out Twitter, live stream yourself to a computer in the studio, learn about Twitter clients andmore.Creates a safe space for people who want that assurance that they’re not going to screw up.Social media guidelinesDeveloped a comprehensive document for this and a “cheat sheet” we’re going to disseminate at our next meeting.We focus more on guidelines instead of policy. Policy is proscriptive, guidelines are encouraging. And at this point we definitely want to encourage – want to give people the confidence that they’re doing things correctly and well, so that they’ll want to engage with social media. You can’t do that by giving people a formalistic document and an endless string of “don’ts”.We focus more on the “dos” but there are obviously still some “don’ts” necessary.NMR has also run training sessions on content creationBloggingPhotographyVideo productionWriting for the online worldAlso an intro to web design, less for content production, but valuable for people that rely on our web designers.
  • Seriously big project.Working with agencies in New York & Ottawa on the design, construction & migration.Migrating hundreds of pages, several databases, several legacy systems, Raiser’s edge integration, real-time third-party ticket purchasing, connecting to multiplepayment systems and more.Took a look at several different options:Custom building it ourselvesHire someone else to custom build itBuy an off-the-shelf systemImplementing an open-source solution
  • Ultimately it really came down to open-source vs. build-it-yourself, because no one I’ve talked to that’s bought an off-the-shelf solution (or had someone else build it) has every really been satisfied.
  • So we decided on DrupalPowers something like 2% of website in the world.It’s a framework as much as a CMS, which gives you ultimate flexibility, but which means there’s more work up front.We needed that flexibility to accommodate our internal stakeholders and all the legacy functionality we needed to port over.One of the advantages of Drupal is the community behind it and the transparency in security. This means that you benefit from the work of hundreds of thousands of people, and if there’s a security exploit or something like that, it gets found out and fixed that much faster.Had to go through extensive discovery phase, content mapping, migration strategy and more.A real strength is its modularity. Thousands of modules being developed, some by and for museums, all being re-submitted back to the community.
  • We’re know we’re in good company
  • GovernanceOnce we’ve solidified some ideas for social media governance, circulate them to key players around the museum for comment.Biggest challenge will be to come up with ways to break down silos so that people from different areas operating on different media can collaborate better across departments and across media.Another challenge will be coordination – making sure people consult before creating new social media channels, for example, and they receive the proper training and support so that we’re always following the industry’s best practices.AccessibilityFurther mobile development13% of visitors are mobile today. A year ago that was 4%.Drupaltheming – separate mobile-optimized website.
  • 6.5 Million Stories: The Royal Ontario Museum Online

    1. 1. Mark Farmerflickr.com/photos/905bosun/4081842460
    2. 2. A little about us flickr.com/photos/jdbsound/3559755771/sizes/l/in/photostream
    3. 3.  Online team Steering group
    4. 4. Facebook
    5. 5. Even more Facebook!
    6. 6. Established media
    7. 7. Even more established media!
    8. 8. Tonnes of Twitter  ‘Official’ accounts  Unofficial / personal ○ ROMToronto ○ wrdodger ○ ROMKids ○ nomantoronto ○ ROMPalaeo ○ ogradyelizabeth ○ ICCattheROM  TBD ○ ROMWalks ○ ROMVisitors ○ ROMSouthAsia ○ GreenROM ○ ROMGovernors  Other ○ YPCROM ○ ROMSandbox  Individual accounts ○ ROMSingles ○ janetcarding ○ davide_ROM ○ marksROM ○ museumgirlROM ○ KimTTait ○ davehireland
    9. 9. Blogging
    10. 10. Podcasts
    11. 11. Video
    12. 12. Mobile
    13. 13. Recent Initiatives
    14. 14. Virtual tours
    15. 15. SCVNGR
    16. 16. Pinterest
    17. 17. Trees for Toronto
    18. 18. Mobile gameification
    19. 19. Augmented reality
    20. 20. Haptic interfaces
    21. 21. Wikimedia Foundation
    22. 22. Tent cards flickr.com/photos/emdee_guy/4223592118
    23. 23. E-publications flickr.com/photos/arsart/5540376931/sizes/z/in/photostream
    24. 24.  Deep dives Tech Thursdays Social Media Guidelines Content creation classes
    25. 25. • Adobe • Ontario Science Centre• AGO • Oracle• Australian Museum • Percussion Software• Balboa Park Online Collective • Playground Digital• British Museum • San Francisco MOMA• Canadian Museum of Civilization • Smithsonian• Civic Actions • Smithsonian NMNH• EpiServer • Squiz Software• Indianapolis Museum of Art • The Working Group• Imperial War Museum • V&A• MOMA • V51 Consulting• Museum Victoria • Whitney Museum• National Gallery, Washington
    26. 26. Seriously big project
    27. 27. Content Management
    28. 28. Current users
    29. 29.  Governance Accessibility Mobile
    30. 30. Upcoming events  facebook.com – March 8  mycharityconnects.org – June 12 - 13  nxne.com – June 12 - 15  indiecan.com
    31. 31. Thank you E-mail: markfarmer@webness.biz Website: webness.biz Blog: webheresies.com Twitter: markus64 Facebook: markus64