How do you measure a relationship? Non-scientific lessons from a target audience outreach project that used social media
How do you measure a relationship? Non-scientific lessons from a target audience outreach project that used social mediaErin Blascos talk at "Defining and measuring social media success in museums and arts organizations"on Feb. 22, 2013 at NMAI, Part of Social Media Week DC. Tweet hello at @erinblasco.Hi, I’m Erin. I used to be at the Postal Museum and now I’m at American History.The social media outcome I care most about: How do you measure a relationship?One day, I was keyword and hashtag searching on Twitter and discovered a target audience the museumwasn’t aware of. Our key audiences were stamp collectors and families with young kids. But I stumbledupon a group of 30-somethings who were making postal-themed, mailable art and using social media totalk about it.Immediately, I thought, we MUST befriend these people. We need to diversify the museum audiencesanyway.So I Twitter stalked them, observing them like an anthropologist, getting to know them.Then I burst into their conversation on Twitter and just said hi. It was kind of a great first flirtation andone thing led to another. After a Google Hangout focus group to determine some shared goals, I decidedto start an outreach project that used social media as a tool. Its goals were to increase their knowledgeabout postal history, make them into museum advocates, and have fun.The outreach project involved a lot of specialized social media but I don’t have time to talk about thedetails of that now. Mainly, the museum and the audience were becoming friends and I wanted tomeasure that. So here’s what I looked at:---Behaviors and attitudes that indicate that a target audience outreach project that uses social media asone of its tools is going well: Humor - You need to know somebody well to really know how to make them laugh. Do they joke with us? Amount and quality of effort - We asked them to take and tweet a relevant photo and use our hashtag. How many did, how on-target were the photos? Introducing us to their friends - How many unsolicited and solicited recommendations and “you should check out...” type things do we get? Are they recommending only content we created for that audience or have they appreciating other parts of the museum’s content? Honesty - Do they like us enough to honestly tell us when they dislike some of our website or find our policies confusing? Bonus points if some of them offer to help fix your web design! How committed are they? We had two local members of the audience volunteer and then intern with us.
Can you finish each other’s sentences? One of their major complaints with NPM was the language and tone we use to talk about artifacts. It sometimes took the beauty out of even the shiniest object. As I adjusted NPM’s interpretive language (where I could), I also noticed that they picked up some NPM vocab words--we were becoming more fluent in each other’s language. Are their goals being met? We wanted them to learn things about out content and advocate for the museum. They wanted to have fun and socialize with each other and us around our shared content interests. “Is the fun enough? Social enough?” were questions I could ask to see how the relationship felt from their end.As I started the meat of the outreach project with my bosss permission, and evaluated all that stuffabove... I realized that they werent friends with the museum. They were friends with our Twitter andPinterest presence.Nobody at the museum really knew who they were except for me and the Education Department. Mygoal had been to start a meaningful relationship between the audience and the museum but most ofthe museum staff didn’t see this audience. They existed online and were invisible. So when we neededto make decisions about what exhibits to do next year or what websites to create, this target audiencewasn’t on their radar as a possible customer of those products.I needed everyone inside the museum from security officers to exhibits department to educators tovolunteers to hold up its side of the relationship. Social media can provide us with some of the tools tosocialize with and befriend a target audience and have a big impact--but its like theyre so powerfulthat we forget how to truly position them to maximize the effect across the whole organization.So I started talking about this audience constantly to my colleagues and got an intern to write a profileof them that we e-mailed to the entire staff. One of the members of the community drew a Venndiagram of the community to map its different sub-sections. Two of the local members volunteered inthe museum and staff would get to know actual individuals.Here are the things I might use to measure if the relationship was healthy on the staff and volunteerside.Staff and volunteer behaviors and attitudes that indicate that a target audience outreach project thatuses social media as one of its tools is going well: Ability to describe the target audience in general. What do they like and not like? What are their demographics? Ability to anticipate what the target audience might like or not like in the museum’s collection, website, exhibits, etc. (Or asking, “Hey, we got this new object... do you think they’d like it if you tweeted about it?”) Bringing up the audience during a meeting where decisions are being made that might impact them Bookmarking a website that the target audience frequents (whether it’s just to stay in touch with what they like or because it is actually interesting to the staff member) Can interpreters and script writers change their interpretation style to better suit the target audience’s preferences and interests?
So in the end, that’s my challenge... if you meet and fall in love with a target audience on social media,try to build a healthy, two-way relationship and let us know what metrics you find most valuable inmaking that case.Creative Commons. Share away but please attribute. :)