Next week we’re in Sarajevo to participate in a conference that will help regional institutions develop and increase their capacity. Among the many things we’ll be doing, I will give a workshop about the very basics of web and social media for people and organisations with limited time, budget and other resources. In preparation I’ve updated a list with low-budget and easy-to-do online and social media activities for cultural institutions, which I will give away as a handout and gladly share with all of you.

Since the original list from September 2010 a lot has changed in our thinking and the digital landscape. What hasn’t changed is that I’d love to hear your ideas and additions. Feel free to leave them in the comments. Thanks in advance!

The list of things to do:

  1. Define the ‘why’: what are your objectives with online and social media. Choose one to begin with, e.g. brand awareness, customer service or press relations.
  2. Focus: rather do 1 platform well and work towards 1 objective than doing many poorly and achieving none of your objectives.
  3. Make a list of key words that define your organisation and its projects. Check Twitter and Instagram for matching hashtags that are regularly used (enough for traffic, not too much for spam) and use these whenever relevant.
  4. At least weekly, check Instagram, Flickr and other photo sharing services for new images about you or your projects. Share the best ones on your Facebook page in an album and link to them on Twitter. (The web is visual, after all.)
  5. Install relevant Google alerts, subscribe to the blogs of competitors and people discussing the same topics (e.g. using Feedly) and follow relevant hashtags to know what people are saying and…
  6. …leave at least one comment/encouragement/clarification on an external platform each week in response to somebody else’s content.
  7. If you have a Facebook page, before anything else, follow up daily on your ‘recent posts by others’. Even if it’s not a question, give it at least a thumbs up.
  8. Check your page on Tripadvisor, Yelp or any other relevant rating website and follow up on questions and negative comments.
  9. On every platform you own, make it clear if people can use it for customer support and when you will reply to their questions. Make sure people are never disappointed.
  10. Favourite all constructive mentions on Twitter, blogposts about you, photos on Instagram and other external content. Sharing this anecdotical evidence of web and social media success is way more powerful internally than sharing dull metrics to make people enthusiastic.
  11. That said: regularly share all successes with everybody in your organisation.
  12. Allow and encourage photography and social sharing onsite by adding a useful hashtag to your signage, e.g. on the entrance/exit or walls of your most prominent exhibit.
  13. Add influential bloggers, tweeps, Instagrammers and other ‘new press’ to your press list. Start by building relations with ‘small’ influencers: local press, bloggers, enthusiasts. Even somebody with 1,000 followers can help you move forward.
  14. Also, complete your press list with the social media credentials (twitter handle, Facebook page, etc.) of members of the traditional press. Make sure to ping them on social media whenever you have something relevant to share.
  15. Install a select number of social sharing buttons on your website to let others do the talking about your content. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are a good start.
  16. See your newsletter as social media: don’t write a 1,000-word email once a month but rather send short, relevant and timely updates.
  17. If you really know something and have a reliable source, add it to a relevant Wikipedia article.
  18. At least once a week, bring your product to life: take a picture of visitors, digitise a few guest book pages, interview a customer, show the flowers in your garden, etc.
  19. Start a shared blog where you and your colleagues work together on telling the story of your organisation in short updates, visuals and other engaging content. It doesn’t have to be a full-scale production: just get people in the habit of producing content and sharing it with the world. Tumblr is excellent for this, especially if you have a clear topic.
  20. Make sure the homepage of your website answers the Five Ws and especially the Why-question: Why should people visit you, buy tickets, follow you, etc.?
  21. In every update, every post, every newsletter, be extremely clear about what you want from your audience. Do never assume that what is obvious to you is obvious to them, so ask for comments, hint to pressing ‘like’ and use the subject line of emails to talk about the subject, not the package (“Newsletter #4”).
  22. Add your events to external online calendars and listing websites
  23. Team up with organisations that are like you but not directly competing with you in sharing content, engagement, likes, best practices, even campaigns. Be each other’s biggest fan. Start by inviting the social media/marketing/communication people from these organisations for a coffee and chat.
  24. Offer a number of common rechargers behind the welcome/reception desk and let people know they can recharge.
  25. Open up your Wifi and don’t ask for email addresses.
  26. Simplify the form for newsletter subscription and online ticket sales. If you ask for a telephone number, call people. If you put an * behind the full name, welcome people by full name when they visit. Otherwise, usually an email address is enough.
  27. Make sure liking you on Facebook or following you on Twitter is the last step in any ticket sales process or follow up email after subscribing to your newsletter.
  28. Use and advocate the use of Creative Commons and other open licenses on your original content and the original content of partners.

You will notice the list focuses heavily on using the web and social media to listen to your audience, then respond to them and only in the last place to talk to them. When time and money are limited, spend them on building and maintaining deep relations with few rather than worthless relations with many.

Of course there’s much behind these simple recommendations and some of them might seem off or counterintuitive if you read them without context. Feel free to ask for clarifications, but also use Google to find out more. There are countless great blogs and videos available online that will help you put these simple ideas to practice step by step.

Photo by Eden Politte on Flickr.

  • Mylee Joseph of the State Library of NSW pointed me to the following, very useful resource to learn more about emerging technologies, 2.0 and social media. Specifically focused on libraries, but the ideas apply much wider. Thanks Mylee:

  • Silvia

    Thanks Jasper and lovely picture with the teddy bear!