We are now living in the age of click and snap-happy visitors, but it’s not enough to simply count on the fact that they will post about your organization on social media when visiting. Even if tech-savvy visitors do post, who’s to say that they will be sure to tag you? A genuine social media shout out from a happy visitor is fantastic for marketing your arts and cultural institution; consider it like a testimonial but not as arduous to solicit. Consumers are naturally driven to trust each other more over marketing collateral. Spotlighting content from happy visitors allows you to turn those socials media shout outs into powerful marketing tools.
According to The Art Newspaper’s annual survey in 2021, visits to the world’s 100 most-visited museums plummeted by 77% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. As arts and cultural organisations around the world are reopening their doors and welcoming visitors back in person, it’s more important than ever to encourage visitors to engage with your organization on social media platforms which can provide authentic advertising and help to build back those visitor numbers. In this article, we’ll discuss a few ways to encourage visitors to share their positive arts and culture experiences with their networks and go over some ways for you to make the most of those posts when it comes to marketing for your organization.
Social media challenges
Consider reaching out to your visitors and offering them a unique opportunity to engage with your organization and community with a social media challenge. These challenges can take on many different shapes and forms depending on the organization and platform being used. If your organization is still closed or in the process of reopening, you can still use your social media channels to engage visitors with your collection and mission, especially if you happen to have an online catalogue.
Here are some ideas on where to start with social media challenges:
- Ask visitors to vote for their favorite collection works and then spotlight a special exhibition or reel of “crowd-curated favorites”,
- Host a selfie contest encouraging visitors to snap pics with their preferred objects or in their favorite spaces,
- Plan a treasure hunt with clues offered via social media channels.
Visitors love to see themselves reflected within arts and cultural spaces – literally… According to 2019 European research from global smartphone brand HONOR, selfies are on the rise with 85% of Brits admitting to taking more selfies than ever before. This trend is undoubtably sweeping the globe with #selfie totalling 457,000,000 posts and counting on Instagram as of September 2021.
If it’s probable that visitors are going to take selfies while visiting, why not use this trend to your advantage and set up a selfie station in your space to help them snap that perfect shot?
Here are some top tips to creating a corner that will be too good not to “gram”:
- Match your space – selfie stations can be direct or subtle with simple directives or all out prop closets,
- Use clear messaging to let visitors know they are invited to get their phones out and snap away,
- Use props safely and make sure that all items are cleaned regularly,
- Make spaces “accident-proof” and be sure to keep any breakable objects at a safe distance!
Hashtags are a great way to collect social media content in one place to make it easily accessible. Using exhibition hashtags also allows you to see your space through the eyes of the community. By advertising a specific hashtag for your arts and cultural organization or exhibitions, you are encouraging visitors to engage with your space on social media by either posting and tagging their own content or browsing and enjoying others’ content.
When creating an exhibition hashtag, think about distilling your organization/exhibition name down into something catchy and memorable. It’s important to remember that the hashtag must relate directly to the organization/exhibition and be short enough to not interfere with the limited character counts on some social media platforms.
Visitors are more likely to tag you when they share thoughts and photos from their visit if they know that someone is paying attention on the other end. Therefore, it’s important to monitor organizational social media channels and acknowledge visitor posts.
Here are some great ways to let visitors know that you appreciate the social media shout out:
- “Like” their posts and comment if appropriate,
- Send them a direct message to thank them for visiting,
- Repost their photo(s) (with permission and appropriate credit),
- Add their content to your story on Instagram or Facebook,
- Put together a video or Instagram reel highlighting visitor posts (again, with permission) and add to social media channels,
- If you come across a loyal and avid visitor via social media, follow them back!
Let’s be real. Coming up with social media content for arts and cultural organizations can sometimes be challenging. Despite the plethora of amazing objects and stories, writer’s block is often inevitable! By encouraging visitors to post about your space, you are working smarter, not harder to create that valuable content which ultimately has more authenticity coming directly from visitors rather than your arts and culture organization itself.
One of the most important things to remember when trying out any of these methods to encourage more visitor posting is that consistent messaging is key. The rule of seven is one of marketing’s oldest principles which states that on average it takes seven exposures to a marketing message for it to be received by the consumer. Consistently inviting visitors to post about their experiences and to engage with your arts and cultural institution on social media will pay dividends in time.
Now, go forth, work smarter not harder, and start encouraging those valuable visitor posts!