Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Power of Social Media

Ryan Dodge, Creating a Social Institution: Leveraging the Power of Social Media, MuseumiD, 2015

With over six million objects and specimens in the Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM) collection, the museum has the potential to tell millions of stories. In an effort to enable this ROM have been laying the foundation for a truly social institution. Ryan Dodge – Social Media Coordinator for ROM – on leveraging the power of digital and social media and enabling staff to tell the stories of their behind the scenes activities, their research expertise, the collections and exhibitions.

As part of our shift to become a more public focused institution the Museum decided to organize our over forty research disciplines into eight areas of focus in an effort to make our collections and research more accessible to the general public. This shift came about after consultation with the public and a lengthy strategic planning process. The eight Centres of Discovery are meant to be the public’s access points to our staff, our research and our encyclopedic collections, our expertise and exhibitions. Today, visitors can interact with these eight centres online, which is often the first point of contact and where a person’s relationship begins with many Museums around the world. Our aim is to provide opportunities to deepen the relationship and foster a dialogue between us and our community. If the Centres are to be access points then they must have a strong online presence and that also means a strong social presence. That said, how do you ensure this dialogue and community building can take place without an army of community managers?

“Our aim is to provide opportunities to deepen the relationship and foster a dialogue between us and our community”

Our objectives are to build awareness and stronger relationships with our community through conversation. We do not focus on how many followers we gain, the dialogue with our communities and the connections we build between them, the museum and our collections are our top priorities. Before opening the dialogue, our staff needed the tools and training to become effective and efficient online communicators. In 2010 we redesigned our website and decentralized access, enabling staff (our subject experts) to post content on the museum’s website directly without funnelling through a maze of approvals. There was a lengthy process of training and it took time for staff to be comfortable with this new ‘era’ at the museum. The web team spent a great deal of time teaching how to write for the web but also how to navigate the content management system.

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