Last November, 14 museums and one monument all around the world got a shot of creativity and innovation thanks to Museomix, which allows teams made of makers, mediators, content experts, communication experts, coders and designer to create innovative device for museum audiences. I got lucky enough to work on social media communication with the co-organizers of #MuseomixEst, the first Museomix that took place in Eastern France: the CMN (with an amazing team led by Laure Pressac, who spoke about her work with startups at WAM16) and Saint-Ex Reims, a digital cultural center. The event took place in Reims at the Palais du Tau, a place where coronation feasts took place after French kings got crowned in the nearby Cathedral and that is now filled with statues gargoyles from the Cathedral, ancient tapestry and the precious royal treasure.
Here’s a look at the social media strategy I built with the co-organizers and how I implemented it before, during and after the event on Facebook and Twitter.
(Most of the links are in French, I am very sorry about that.)
Before the event
On social media
There are three things that we all should keep in mind when building a social media strategy: know your audience, know your goals, know what and who you can leverage.
Here, our goals were pretty clear: raise awareness about Museomix Est and highlight innovation within the CMN as well as the Palais du Tau itself to attract visitors and participants.
The core audience was, I guess, quite typical for a Museomix event: on the one hand, museum and monuments lovers; on the other, techies and innovation actors. The challenge here was to reach everyone who would fall not only into those categories, but also anywhere in between: content experts, makers and coders are definitely not enough for a team, so you have to be able to reach graphic designers, facilitators, communication experts that would want to join a creative adventure in a monument. Finally, a much broader audience of locals had to be turned into visitors who would come to test the devices on the third day of the Museomix Est and during the following week.
Of course, Museomix does not happen in a blank ecosystem and there are plenty of actors that we could rely on: First of all, co-organizers: the CMN and Saint-Ex, then partners and sponsors that are easy to find, and finally influencers that take a bit more work to map out but are are always happy to share content that fits their own audience. For us, those influencers included individual bloggers and Tweeters as well as institutions like the Cité de la Tapisserie in Aubusson, an institution dedicated to tapestry.
The other local Museomix teams also were of precious help, creating a real global dynamic.
To leverage them properly and encourage interactions, it was essential to share different types of content for each community (locals, art historians, makers…) by still building a real bridge between historical artefacts and digital culture (unicorns on tapestry!).
Highlighting the Museomix Est community, we started a face campaign with pictures of participants and quotes about why they wanted to join the adventure (I fully understood the strength of Canva thanks to this mission).
Outside of social media
During the months leading up to Museomix, each team has Aperomixes – drinks with all the contributors to the event – to brainstorm and find the best ways to create an environment in which everyone can make the most of their creativity, digging deeper into the preparation every time.
Different spaces for cater to all creative needs
Here is what you could find at Museomix Est:
- A fablab packed with amazing stuff, from Arduinos to 3D printers and laser cutters, plus the art and design school workshop with bigger devices, like wood cutters.
- A workshop where each team had their own space and stone-carvers and champagne experts were available to help.
- A huge dining room where we also had our plenary sessions (and where coronation feasts used to be served when France still was a kingdom)
- A mixroom that served at meeting point for the organization and communication teams.
- The whole Palais du Tau ready to be remixed.
During the event
I arrived at the Palais du Tau the day before but most of the team was already there to prepare the venue, create working stations for each group, check last logistic details. My role mainly was to take some backstage preparation picture for social media and attend the latest briefings for the 3 days. Day 1 started with a little ice breaker and a visit of the Palais du Tau after which the participants started brainstorming around there very first ideas. Goal: creating 7 teams around 7 projects (with themes that were defined in advance but non-binding) and going into greater depth of each project during the afternoon and the evening. The first evening was spent at Saint-Ex around drinks, some teams still brainstorming, some relaxing after a rich first day. The second day was all about hard-core prototyping between the fablab and the Reims art and design school. That night, we found some Museomixers still working on their project at 2am in our hostel. On the third morning, all project had to be finalized quickly for the crash-tests and then for the opening to the public at 3pm. Everyday at 6pm, we watched video recaps from all the other venues around the world, show our own made by our great video makers and got a presentation of each project from our own teams.
Contrary to most local editions, prototypes created by the teams stayed at the Palais du Tau for the whole week, which required the mediation teams to know how to handle the device and sometimes fix it.
One thing very quickly becomes obvious during Museomix: The 100+ people you are about to spend 3 days with are your temporary family from a parallel universe with private jokes, references that seems clear right-away, vocabulary that would not be understood by outsiders.
When communicating on social media, it is essential to take step back and remember for whom and why you’re posting: Even after 5 years, Museomix is unknown to many and a bit obscure to some, so sharing part of the private jokes (we had the most amazing puns) is what gives the event its identity, but it has to be conveyed in a way that is understandable to the masses.
Some local Museomixes did not impose anything in terms of communications, we just made everyone set a Twitter account to document their progress. We wanted something that would not take too much time but would still make my life easier by being social media eyes and ears throughout the event: I could either repost their content or choose to go and see by myself if something seemed interesting.
Obviously, strategies and posts need to be different for each social network: You are expected to post much more on Twitter than on Facebook.
Moreover, it is important to find the right balance between sharing content about the teams’ activities and giving them enough space to prototype their projects without disturbing them.
It is also crucial to remain flexible in your content creation: Some are Must-Have (tweets and Facebook albums for the big moments, daily video recaps), some are Nice-To-Have (a Mannequin Challenge, a video where everybody sums up their experience in one word…). If you don’t have time to do some things but have spontaneous ideas for others, it’s fine.
After the event
The Museomix website gathers descriptions of all the prototypes ever created – which is of course useful to introduce them to your audience. The teams in Reims created 7 prototypes, so I did a one prototype a day action on Twitter and Facebook, and share various content both thanking the Muxeomixers and showing fans and followers how they can keep interacting with the co-organizers.
While for me the “after Museomix” lasted 2 weeks on social media, I know that some museums in the Eastern area already want to organize a 2017 edition, so I cannot wait to see what they will do. It would be interesting to set an Instagram account showing a more day-to-day evolution as Switzerland did or to organize small gatherings and visits throughout the year as Ile-de-France does. It will be really interesting to see how they use the existing community to expand it to another city and another institution.
Then, one of the things that makes it hard for some people to wrap their head around what Museomix is is the fact that very few past prototypes got perpetuated – partly because of the lack of funding. Launching a crowdfunding campaign would be a great way to keep the community engages by making them feel like they are making the prototype possible through its funding.
Can you leverage other people’s creativity in your museum?
Sure! It will take you around a year to prepare, and I strongly advise you to first take part in a Museomix as a regular team member so you can understand their needs. But it is definitely worth it: you will be exhausted but incredibly happy to see how complete strangers can reinvent your institution and give you ideas about how you can innovate! It is impossible to create a long-term device in three days, but it is definitely possible to have great ideas that will make long-term projects possible? So if you want to see by yourself and be part of the Museomix 2017 edition, stay tuned for applications in June!